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Scott Pennock

Different Breed of Linebacker....?

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This is a dink n dunk league, teams will eat you up if you can't stop

the 5 yard throws. Ballard and Reich are figuring out this enigma.

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16 minutes ago, chad72 said:

As far as LBs go, how quickly they read and react is what will determine their success. I know we all get enamored with the RAS scores but I felt that Ballard put more stock into those mainly with his skill position players and OL/DL more than anything else, not across the board.

 

If you looked at Darius Leonard's RAS score, it was by no means a good one amongst the 2018 draft class:

 

https://relativeathleticscores.com/2018/03/06/2018-nfl-draft-class-ras-relative-athletic-scores/

 

It was his intelligence and instincts that propelled him to where he is now. That is why Bobby Okereke and E J Speed were drafted, their instincts and the ceiling Ballard and the coaches felt each of them had. 

 

When they play Kelce with the Chiefs, Keenan Allen with the Chargers, Michael Thomas with the Saints, McCaffrey with the Panthers etc., guys who relish those underneath zones, that is when we will find out if we have taken a step forward. 

His RAS was low due to the bum hamstring otherwise he would have been in the 8 to 9 area.

 

Having said that, from the limited amount of film I've seen I agree with your instinctual trait as being one Ballard covets as well because they all displayed it.

 

If they can read and react with that speed, lateral agility and long arms/wingspans that should close up holes in the zones pretty quickly AND due to their length it will be difficult to put touch passes over their head but in front of the DB's.

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12 minutes ago, dodsworth said:

This is a dink n dunk league, teams will eat you up if you can't stop

the 5 yard throws. Ballard and Reich are figuring out this enigma.

 

About bloody time too, Pats have been doing this for decades (it seems) and we have just been "ah well, what can you do" passive. :Cry:

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Yeah, Ballard's talked more and more about athletic/physical traits being very important, along with character of course. It sure seems like arm length/wingspan is becoming a priority or at the very least a major plus. That along with instincts, like another poster mentioned. That was the first thing I noticed when looking at Leonard's college tape and what I noticed with all three of Bangonu/Okereke/Speed.

On the topic of forced fumbles, I did notice that Banogu seemed to have a knack for trying to do just that pretty frequently. Hopefully it becomes a strength.

Also, I think Ballard mentioned this at the town hall in regards to the 4/4 thing. I don't think each pick was necessarily their #1 target (some of them could've been), but that they all were in a group of guys that they considered "best case scenario" targets at each pick.

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This is all overstated in the media and OP.  There is nothing freakish about this new crop, but Ballard does seem to be narrowing up the athletic profile with less compromise for average athleticism.

 

 Its as if 6’3” 235# LBs running 4.55 to 4.65 is some sort of renaissance...Ballard is just less negotiable on non conformance.

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They are just getting guys that fit an attacking 4-3 DE...and can play fast on the turf. I think we got used to the 3-4 Pagano defense and poor talent evaluation...and assumed that LBs looked and moved like Sheppard, Morrison, DJax, etc. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, ztboiler said:

This is all overstated in the media and OP.  There is nothing freakish about this new crop, but Ballard does seem to be narrowing up the athletic profile with less compromise for average athleticism.

 

 Its as if 6’3” 235# LBs running 4.55 to 4.65 is some sort of renaissance...Ballard is just less negotiable on non conformance.

I was more focused on the length and even spoke more about it while comparing it to Adams, Walker and Franklin who don't have it. 

 

I guess you read what you wanted to read though.

 

 

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20 minutes ago, shastamasta said:

They are just getting guys that fit an attacking 4-3 DE...and can play fast on the turf. I think we got used to the 3-4 Pagano defense and poor talent evaluation...and assumed that LBs looked and moved like Sheppard, Morrison, DJax, etc. 

 

 

I'm sorry, but look at Leonard, Speed, Okereke and Banogu and compare their measurables with Walker, Adams and Franklin and there is a rather distinct difference in body style and measurements.

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31 minutes ago, Scott Pennock said:

I was more focused on the length and even spoke more about it while comparing it to Adams, Walker and Franklin who don't have it. 

 

I guess you read what you wanted to read though.

 

 

 

There is no doubt that Ballard is a metrics guy...and he likes those long arms...

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1 hour ago, shastamasta said:

They are just getting guys that fit an attacking 4-3 DE...and can play fast on the turf. I think we got used to the 3-4 Pagano defense and poor talent evaluation...and assumed that LBs looked and moved like Sheppard, Morrison, DJax, etc. 

 

 

 

Right now, it seems like we’ve more horses for the back 7 than the front four, unless we plan to wear out Hunt and Autry in the middle as the season goes on. New stars have to emerge in the middle this year, I’m sure we’re counting on Ty Lewis, Stewart and Jihad Ward for additional answers.

 

Belichick and the Patriots DL crashes the middle vs Mahomes to flush him to the side they had the spy on for the most part instead of Mahomes dictating it, great game plan that worked for the most part. We either scheme the pressure down the middle or have to hope for a few guys to exceed expectations there.

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33 minutes ago, ztboiler said:

 

There is no doubt that Ballard is a metrics guy...and he likes those long arms...

 

Bet he would have like Ted 'mad stork' Hendricks.

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2 hours ago, chad72 said:

 

Right now, it seems like we’ve more horses for the back 7 than the front four, unless we plan to wear out Hunt and Autry in the middle as the season goes on. New stars have to emerge in the middle this year, I’m sure we’re counting on Ty Lewis, Stewart and Jihad Ward for additional answers.

 

Belichick and the Patriots DL crashes the middle vs Mahomes to flush him to the side they had the spy on for the most part instead of Mahomes dictating it, great game plan that worked for the most part. We either scheme the pressure down the middle or have to hope for a few guys to exceed expectations there.

That is what I'm hoping for is a steady rotation between Hunt, Lewis, Autry and Ward to keep everyone fresh throughout the season and we need Stewart to step into the Woods role when needed.

 

It does worry me that we do not have another big bodied DT to rotate in or for goal line and short yardage situations. Danny Shelton comes to mind....

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10 minutes ago, Scott Pennock said:

That is what I'm hoping for is a steady rotation between Hunt, Lewis, Autry and Ward to keep everyone fresh throughout the season and we need Stewart to step into the Woods role when needed.

 

It does worry me that we do not have another big bodied DT to rotate in or for goal line and short yardage situations. Danny Shelton comes to mind....

 

or even Bennie Logan. That would be a plus.

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5 hours ago, Scott Pennock said:

I'm sorry, but look at Leonard, Speed, Okereke and Banogu and compare their measurables with Walker, Adams and Franklin and there is a rather distinct difference in body style and measurements.

 

This is the time of year when posters have so little information,  that they play connetct the dots where there are no dots to connect.

 

This revelation on what we now prefer at Linebacker has always been the desired trait.

 

The reason we're not seeing it fully realized until this year is that the team needed so many new players that we couldn't make all the needed changes in one season.   We got Walker in 17.   He is the long-term answer?    Probably not.   Especially with Ballard saying they want to start Okereke off at the MIKE.

 

You're reading too much into Adams and Franklin.   Why would they have top desirable phystical traits?    They were both 7th round guys who weren't even invited to the Combine.    They're more likely stop-gap guys.    That's what is available in the 7th round.    The one LB we took high (Leonard has the desired traits)   

 

We took Leonard in the 2nd,  Bonagu and Okereke in the 3rd.   And the primary reason Speed dropped to the 5th is because he played at Nowhere State University A&I.     Otherwise,  he goes to a better school and is likely drafted much higher by a different team.

 

What we drafted this year is what we wanted to draft all along.   We're trying to build the fastest, most athletic defense in football and that takes time.    So you draft what you can get and make due with that until you can get better.    You draft Walker, and Adams and Franklin until the Big 3 LBers we got this year can reach starting performance levels.     We didn't wake up one day this off-sseason and say "Hey, Leonard worked out great,  maybe we should get more guys like him"... we always wanted more guys like him.    It just takes time...    but Ballard and ME have been talking about a fast, atheltic defense since they both arrived.   Those are your signals that this isn't something new they just thought of....

 

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During the peak of the Dungy year's, the defense was fast and

swarming and I believe we are there this year.

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BDB definitely appears to have a fetish for length across all positions. He just wants guys that can measure up to him. 

 

Honestly though I hope he isn’t living and dying by the measurements as much as it kind of seems. For instance, he’s shown a desire for long interior dlinemen but statistically the better DTs have been of the shorter, low center of gravity types like Donald and Atkins. It remains to be seen how the defense will perform and I’m not trying to be a blasphemer. I like lengthy corners and LBs, but I did take issue with some of our usage of draft capital and free agency. 

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The guys Ballard targets are either good pass rushers, good pass defenders or both. Stopping the run is becoming a thing of the past due to offensive trends in the league. That’s why Ballard let go of Hankins and Morrison who excelled at stopping the run but not much else. The LBs we are getting are meant to counter the short passes to the middle of the field which is where our defense struggled the most last year. 

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8 hours ago, NewColtsFan said:

 

This is the time of year when posters have so little information,  that they play connetct the dots where there are no dots to connect.

 

This revelation on what we now prefer at Linebacker has always been the desired trait.

 

The reason we're not seeing it fully realized until this year is that the team needed so many new players that we couldn't make all the needed changes in one season.   We got Walker in 17.   He is the long-term answer?    Probably not.   Especially with Ballard saying they want to start Okereke off at the MIKE.

 

You're reading too much into Adams and Franklin.   Why would they have top desirable phystical traits?    They were both 7th round guys who weren't even invited to the Combine.    They're more likely stop-gap guys.    That's what is available in the 7th round.    The one LB we took high (Leonard has the desired traits)   

 

We took Leonard in the 2nd,  Bonagu and Okereke in the 3rd.   And the primary reason Speed dropped to the 5th is because he played at Nowhere State University A&I.     Otherwise,  he goes to a better school and is likely drafted much higher by a different team.

 

What we drafted this year is what we wanted to draft all along.   We're trying to build the fastest, most athletic defense in football and that takes time.    So you draft what you can get and make due with that until you can get better.    You draft Walker, and Adams and Franklin until the Big 3 LBers we got this year can reach starting performance levels.     We didn't wake up one day this off-sseason and say "Hey, Leonard worked out great,  maybe we should get more guys like him"... we always wanted more guys like him.    It just takes time...    but Ballard and ME have been talking about a fast, atheltic defense since they both arrived.   Those are your signals that this isn't something new they just thought of....

 

Perhaps you are right or perhaps not....however, all of Adams, Franklin and Walker have relatively the same speed and agility marks as the new crop minus the length. 

 

Walker played his tail off and Adams started to show good signs in the latter part of the year as well. None of that screams replace me - which drafting 3 more linebackers almost indicates.

 

Maybe their plan all along was to find 3-4 Leonard type backers and this draft afforded them the first opportunity to do so? 

 

I was thinking along the lines of baseball where teams find a market deficiency and ecploit it with their draft picks and free agent signings. Example, extreme ground ball pitchers in the era of the homerun or high onbase percentage hitters in the era of the strikout.

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18 hours ago, Mr. Irrelevant said:

 

About bloody time too, Pats have been doing this for decades (it seems) and we have just been "ah well, what can you do" passive. :Cry:

My thinking is that Ballard and Reich know the SB still goes

through NE so they are trying to take away Tommy boys'

bread and butter underneath stuff and have his 43 year old

arm try to make plays downfield.

 

If u make him throw downfield then a few ducks should fly

this year. I want to see if he can consistently hit the 20 yarders.

Get him out of his dink n dunk game and see what happens.

 

 

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16 hours ago, chad72 said:

 

Right now, it seems like we’ve more horses for the back 7 than the front four, unless we plan to wear out Hunt and Autry in the middle as the season goes on. New stars have to emerge in the middle this year, I’m sure we’re counting on Ty Lewis, Stewart and Jihad Ward for additional answers.

 

Belichick and the Patriots DL crashes the middle vs Mahomes to flush him to the side they had the spy on for the most part instead of Mahomes dictating it, great game plan that worked for the most part. We either scheme the pressure down the middle or have to hope for a few guys to exceed expectations there.

 

I think Ballard has his eyes on an interior DL or two that could become available. I can't imagine this is the final group the Colts will take to camp...but who knows.

 

I also think Ballard and Reich recognized a major weakness of this team...and that was TEs and RBs in the passing game. So they targeted guys that can add speed AND versatility to the defensive the LB group and secondary...and better defend that aspect.

 

As for the pass rush, I think we are going to see a lot of stunts this year to create pressure up the middle...and blitzes as well.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Scott Pennock said:

Perhaps you are right or perhaps not....however, all of Adams, Franklin and Walker have relatively the same speed and agility marks as the new crop minus the length. 

 

Walker played his tail off and Adams started to show good signs in the latter part of the year as well. None of that screams replace me - which drafting 3 more linebackers almost indicates.

 

Maybe their plan all along was to find 3-4 Leonard type backers and this draft afforded them the first opportunity to do so? 

 

I was thinking along the lines of baseball where teams find a market deficiency and ecploit it with their draft picks and free agent signings. Example, extreme ground ball pitchers in the era of the homerun or high onbase percentage hitters in the era of the strikout.

 

 When it counted come playoff time Walker became more of a 2 down player and Adams was embarrassing. That is what i saw anyway.

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17 hours ago, Scott Pennock said:

I'm sorry, but look at Leonard, Speed, Okereke and Banogu and compare their measurables with Walker, Adams and Franklin and there is a rather distinct difference in body style and measurements.

 

If we are talking about length...I could see that. And I am glad he is doing so. That's why I wanted guys like LVE and Fred Warner last year. I prefer taller guys everywhere, except maybe the interior DL. 

 

I think part of it is that those guys are all early picks...and Ballard didn't feel he had the luxury of addressing LB like he wanted to in previous drafts. Now that the roster is deeper...he was able to go after them.

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7 minutes ago, shastamasta said:

 

If we are talking about length...I could see that. And I am glad he is doing so. That's why I wanted guys like LVE and Fred Warner last year. I prefer taller guys everywhere, except maybe the interior DL. 

 

I think part of it is that those guys are all early picks...and Ballard didn't feel he had the luxury of addressing LB like he wanted to in previous drafts. Now that the roster is deeper...he was able to go after them.

That's a valid point

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The Colts finally got tired of getting ate up on din and dunk and crossing patterns.

 

Sweet!

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23 hours ago, Scott Pennock said:

It seems to me that Ballard/Dodds/Hogan (and Eberflus) have identified a "prototype" of what they desire out of their linebacking corps and attacked it in this years draft! They obviously are using Leonard as the mold (why wouldn't you?) and they found 3 backers of similar skill set and LENGTH. This doesn't mean they'll be All-Pro's, but, the athletic ability and physical traits are there to be molded.

 

Darius Leonard

6'2"

234

34 3/8 arm length

4.55 (estimated based off of play speed 4.7 if you count the one with the bum hamstring)

80+ inch wingspan

 

E.J. Speed

6'3"

230

33 1/4 arm length

4.60 40

80+ inch wingspan

 

Bobby Okereke

6'1"

239

34 1/2 arm length

4.58 40

80+ inch wingspan

 

Ben Banogu

6'3"

249

33 5/8 arm length

4.62 40

80+ inch wingspan

 

And if we take it a step further with the "dime backer" in regards to Marvell Tell III, he's 6'2" and 198 lbs with 33 1/8 inch arms and an 80+ inch wingspan himself.

 

Is this just coincidence or pre-determined traits they were looking for. That is now 4 backers and our proposed dime back all with long arms and wide wingspans. I hope they all have the ability to punch the ball and wrap up the tackle at the same time like Leonard can.....if so I can see the ball on the turf A LOT moving forward. Plus, even when Leonard slightly outran a tackle or a sack he was able to use his massive wingspan to compensate and still make the tackle.

 

Compared those measurenents to the more compact guys they drafted previously in Adams, Franklin and Walker. They all fall into the 6'0" to 6'1" and 230-239 range with 30" to 31" inch arms. They all had good bench reps and ran well too. 

 

Is this a changing of the guard for what to look for in the future? 

 

One anecdote to add after rewatching the draft episode, a lot of us thought that we traded out of the 1st round because of Hollywood Brown - none of them batted an eye when it was announced that the Ravens took him!

 

Additionally, I can't get over the fact that it "seemed" like the Okereke was the "surprise" in the 3rd so they took him even though they had identified Willis with that pick. And the whole war room being excited about the 4 for 4 picks leads me to believe those were their guys that they wanted to draft - they weren't a second or third choice.

 

 

 It is important to understand what it will take to play in today's rules at a high level.
 Don't you think Ballard and his staff had a good vision last year and picked Leonard so high because of their forsight?
 It is interesting that CB stuck to his vision this draft and didn't make exceptions to his apparent LB model. I love our length now, and expect our DB's to do a lot of drills looking for tipped passes. 

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6 hours ago, Scott Pennock said:

Perhaps you are right or perhaps not....however, all of Adams, Franklin and Walker have relatively the same speed and agility marks as the new crop minus the length. 

 

Walker played his tail off and Adams started to show good signs in the latter part of the year as well. None of that screams replace me - which drafting 3 more linebackers almost indicates.

 

Maybe their plan all along was to find 3-4 Leonard type backers and this draft afforded them the first opportunity to do so? 

 

I was thinking along the lines of baseball where teams find a market deficiency and ecploit it with their draft picks and free agent signings. Example, extreme ground ball pitchers in the era of the homerun or high onbase percentage hitters in the era of the strikout.

 

Looking back, I screwed up calling Banogu a third rounder.   Sorry about that.

 

Din’t get me wrong,   I really do like all our LBers.    All of them.   And I hope we can find a way to keep them all.   But at some point you have a numbers crunch.

 

Highly doubtful we will keep more than six.   So...  Leonard and Walker, and now we have three more,  Banogu, Okereke, and Speed.   There’s five.   So that leaves Adams and Franklin fighting for one spot.   

 

Ballard has said a number of times since he was hired that he knows we’re doing things right when other teams are snapping up our late cuts...   that’s going to happen this year all over our roster...  

 

PS....   Scott, you haven’t been a member all that long, but you’ve been a favorite of mine since you first arrived.   If the tone of my previous post seemed unduly harsh, I wanted to apologize for that.  Wasn’t my intention.   

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5 hours ago, throwing BBZ said:

 

 It is important to understand what it will take to play in today's rules at a high level.
 Don't you think Ballard and his staff had a good vision last year and picked Leonard so high because of their forsight?
 It is interesting that CB stuck to his vision this draft and didn't make exceptions to his apparent LB model. I love our length now, and expect our DB's to do a lot of drills looking for tipped passes. 

I harken it to the Cubs Theo Epstein and finding a market deficiency and exploiting it.

 

Ballard found his and is exploiting it as well. I do love the length added and should help to create a no fly zone across the backend.

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4 hours ago, NewColtsFan said:

 

Looking back, I screwed up calling Banogu a third rounder.   Sorry about that.

 

Din’t get me wrong,   I really do like all our LBers.    All of them.   And I hope we can find a way to keep them all.   But at some point you have a numbers crunch.

 

Highly doubtful we will keep more than six.   So...  Leonard and Walker, and now we have three more,  Banogu, Okereke, and Speed.   There’s five.   So that leaves Adams and Franklin fighting for one spot.   

 

Ballard has said a number of times since he was hired that he knows we’re doing things right when other teams are snapping up our late cuts...   that’s going to happen this year all over our roster...  

 

PS....   Scott, you haven’t been a member all that long, but you’ve been a favorite of mine since you first arrived.   If the tone of my previous post seemed unduly harsh, I wanted to apologize for that.  Wasn’t my intention.   

It's all good, this is a forum and sometimes its difficult to determine tone....

 

Sadly I didn't include Gerri Green in my first post who can play SAM as well. Though it seems they will keep him at end. 

 

Skai Moore, Ahmad Thomas, Tre Thomas, and likely one of Adams or Franklin will likely be cut to keep the 6 or 7 backers that Ballard wants.

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Instincts is quickly becoming the football terminology like Location is to Real Estate!  It’s what it’s ALL about!  I don’t care what you ran, what you lifted or what you did in a 3 cone drill as CB is quickly making the old combine analogies of track stars is a tell all.  We all hear the term, basketball IQ or Instincts that is so more important than speed because your always ahead of the play!  Instincts is > than track speed but if you get Instincts + track speed, you got a secret ingredient.  Shhhh don’t let it out

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1 hour ago, Scott Pennock said:

It's all good, this is a forum and sometimes its difficult to determine tone....

 

Sadly I didn't include Gerri Green in my first post who can play SAM as well. Though it seems they will keep him at end. 

 

Skai Moore, Ahmad Thomas, Tre Thomas, and likely one of Adams or Franklin will likely be cut to keep the 6 or 7 backers that Ballard wants.

 

Goodness, I forgot Skai Moore, and I really like him.   But, you can tell it’s off-season and I’m not in peak form!  

 

Shaking my Damn Head, indeed!

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Several times during the draft process, Ballard said that the guys they put on their draft board have certain bottom lines they have to hit from a height, weight, and speed standpoint. He also remarked that they like long athletes. So there is absolutely a prototype that they desire at the position. And that’s what they went after during the draft. Ballard also said it’s an important position in their defense. Leonard was just a taste. This season we’ll get to see what the LBs can really do in this system now that they seem to have a full arsenal.

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The more tape I watch on Okereke and Speed(tough finding anything but highlights on Speed) the more I like. We'll see if they're the real deal once camp and preseason games start, but it looks like we got a couple of really really nice LBs here. I can remember a time when I've ever been this excited about a Colts defense! 

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9 minutes ago, Matthew Gilbert said:

The more tape I watch on Okereke and Speed(tough finding anything but highlights on Speed) the more I like. We'll see if they're the real deal once camp and preseason games start, but it looks like we got a couple of really really nice LBs here. I can remember a time when I've ever been this excited about a Colts defense! 

 

I agree, I can't either.  But, if you asked me if I am more excited about offense or defense, it would be tough to anwser.  Both are shaping up to be one of if not the best in the NFL.  

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Two things I've been hoping the Colts would add to the roster for a long time: speed on defense, especially at linebacker (I'll never forget how the Chargers sliced up the middle of the field in 2013; and the Chiefs game last year looked similar, but mostly for a different reason); and a true change of pace RB. 

 

I think we have good options at both spots right now. I'm hoping that our LBs are more than just fast and long, that they tackle well, that they read plays at the snap and react quickly, hopefully they can cover on critical downs... 

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