All the reports coming out of Anderson University suggest that Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has been quite pleased with the defense thus far.
In contrast to last year, when they lacked the right personnel to be effective in a 3-4 defensive alignment, the Colts spent $140 million in free agency and then added 7 players from the draft, all hand-picked for their suitability for the 3-4.
It’s players like safety LaRon Landry, who is a larger version of Bob “the hitman” Sanders and an automatic upgrade over Tom Zbikowski. And then there’s Josh Chapman and Aubrayo Franklin, both of whom represent an upgrade at the nose tackle position. Rookie Montori Hughes is another defensive lineman who brings both size (6-4, 335 lbs.) and quickness. And let’s not forget cornerback Greg Toler, the up-and-coming Vontae Davis, linebacker Eric Walden, and defensive end Rick Jean-François. Together with established veterans like Antoine Bethea and Robert Mathis this is a much bigger and more physical defense right off the bat, and almost certainly a better one.
When asked first-round draft pick Bjoern Werner, he suggested that the rookie would likely be used to attack opposing quarterbacks from both sides. Werner has apparently shown great strength and agility thus far in training camp drills. He will need to develop quickly if he is to replace what was lost when Dwight Freeney departed in free agency.
“We’re definitely closer to a true 3-4 now,” Manusky said. “From the standpoint of knowledge of all the calls we had defensively and players and their physical ability, we’re way ahead of where we were last year.
“It was frustrating at times last year (not being able to implement the full scope of the 3-4). You want to expand the system and keep growing it, but they didn’t know it from the knowledge standpoint so you’re limited in the calls you can make.”
One moment that stood out from Day 6 of training camp came when defensive end Robert Mathis line up opposite Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo. With cat quickness Mathis beat Castonzo, who was left banging his helmet in frustration. But rather than celebrating his victory, Mathis chose instead to educate Castonzo on how he went wrong, and how to avoid it in the future—talk about being a team player!