I don’t think there was one person against the Indianapolis Colts moving from the old Cover 2 base 4-3 scheme to the new hybrid 3-4 system that the new coaching staffled by head coach Chuck Pagano brought over. The move was made to get better pressure on the quarterback and help stuff the run by attacking gaps.
So far, the Colts’ defense has done pretty good at doing both. They held star running back Adrian Peterson to 60 yards rushing last week and have six sacks in two games so far. The six sacks in two games ranks fourth most in team history and second in the AFC thus far.
Robert Mathis is leading the charge at the quarterback as he has half the team’s sacks with three. Fellow linebackers Jerrell Freeman, Kavell Conner, and Jerry Hughes each have registered a sack a piece this season and have helped this defense transcend into the 21st century of defensive pressure.
The four linebackers have proven to be tough to stop and defend this season. This is an added bonus as most didn’t think they would adapt this quickly. Many predicted the Colts line backing unit would have to rebuild the next few draft’s and be the unit holding the team back. So far, they’re the unit leading the team.
Mathis was one of the best pass rushers from the defensive line in Colts history. He had 86.5 sacks from the defensive end position in just 10 years. That ranked second all-time to Dwight Freeney who played opposite of Mathis with 102.5. Both have moved to outside line backing spots and are trying to make the most of it.
So far, Mathis has had at least one sack in each game in the new system and has registered a sack in five straight games dating back to last season.
Freeney, was hurt early in the Chicago Bears game in Week 1 and hasn’t played since. I don’t expect to see him this week with a high ankle sprain as the Colts have a bye week next week before taking on Green Bay Packers in two weeks. I think they will allow him to rest so he’s ready for the Packers game.
If Freeney, can adapt like Mathis then the Colts may have one of the deepest line backing cores in the league. They would have Mathis and Freeney on the ends with a healthy and rested Pat Angerer and Conner in the middle. Add surprise star Freeman as well as Hughes coming in off the bench and that’s a dangerous six man rotation.
I believe the Colts should put a ton of pressure on Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert on Sunday and add to their sack total. That alone could be the key factor in winning Sunday’s game and could help spark some much needed momentum heading into the bye week.