Published: September 15th, 2009 | Tags: David Garrard, Derek Cox, Derrick Harvey, Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jim Caldwell, Mel Tucker, Peyton Manning, Robert Mathis, Sean Considine, Terrance Knighton
A blue collar slug fest has become the norm whenever the Jaguars and Colts hook up for an AFC South tussle. However, a closer look at the Colts’ 14-12 win that I called on Sunday revealed some new wrinkles in the make up of both teams.
Jacksonville arrived in Indianapolis with a new look on defense with 22 new players on their 53-man roster. Known to primarily use a base 4-3 defense, the Jaguars new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker used variable personnel groupings to morph into a 3-4 front while using five, and sometimes six, defensive backs to confuse and befuddled QB Peyton Manning in the early stages of the game.
Jaguars rookie CB Derek Cox intercepted Manning on the Colts’ first offensive possession while S Sean Considine dropped what would have been a another pick on Indy’s second possession.
The Jags moved rookie DT Terrance Knighton to NT in their 3-4 scheme, while asking last year’s first-round pick, DE Derrick Harvey, to stand up and become an outside linebacker. Despite having a young team who traveled to play a tough divisional opponent, Jacksonville’s new-look defense allowed them to keep the game close before Manning was able to crack the code and find enough answers to win the game with only 14 points.
While curiosity compelled many of us to watch every move of the Colts new coach Jim Caldwell, his new defensive coordinator, Larry Coyer, gave us even more to notice. The Colts were known as an exclusive Tampa 2 defense under former coach Tony Dungy, which employed a 4-3 front and a Cover 2 look in the secondary. Dungy’s defense almost never blitzed linebackers or defensive backs, choosing instead to rush exclusively with their four down lineman. Even with DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis combining for 22 sacks one year ago, the Colts believed they needed to do more this season to help their defensive line get more pressure on the quarterback.
Ultimately, the Colts sealed the deal by using MLB Gary Brackett on consecutive blitzes to pressure Jags QB David Garrard and take over the ball on downs. When Coyer sent Brackett on a blitz, both Freeney and Mathis were left one-on-one with Jaguars rookie OT’s Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton.
The Bookends vs. The Rookies. Thanks to Coyer, guess who won?