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Bend Don’t Break —- Frustrating!


Smonroe
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7 hours ago, Superman said:

 

Some catches are going to be allowed. Can't stop 'em all.

 

Far be it from me to tell anyone they shouldn't be frustrated. You're well within your rights, of course. And I agree at times, the opener for example was very frustrating. My objection is primarily with saying zone defense = soft defense. When it's executed properly, and the pass rush is effective, the defense can be really good.

 

One more thing, unlike the Dungy defenses, this current defense can actually stop the run. 


Big emphasis on stopping the run lol… I like where this defense is heading. I’m not even an optimist it’s just how they’re trending that has me excited. Good times ahead for Colts fans with the way our front office and coaching staff have been jelling on bringing in the right pieces.

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Historically the weakness of the Cover 2 scheme is stopping the run.  Which is why I feel like a big and physical four man front is best served in combination with it.  But under Flus the Colts have been in the top ten in that metric.  They've also been in the top ten in big plays allowed.  The latter is by design.

 

I get that some folks don't like the scheme.  But it's basically slow strangulation over the course of 3 hours when played correctly.  In particular it punishes explosive passing teams by forcing them to check down over and over.  From that perspective it's an ideal scheme for a passing league which is what we have today.

 

Where the Colts have come up short is turnovers.  Look at those Dungy defenses and they did a couple things that the Colts don't do...  First they punished pass catchers underneath.  Much of that was a Hall of Fame MLB prowling an enormous range and delivering timely and crushing hits, but they also had safeties coming down hard who could hit.  Second they forced turnovers with heads up plays all across the field.

 

If you take the stretch of games last year where the defense struggled they all have one thing in common: losing up front and in particular losing up front in the passing game wrt pressure.  So there's a reason why their first two picks were DEs.  2021 is a new season.  Let's wait and see how these pieces fit and if one of them (i.e. just Paye) is an impact player for them we'll see a nice uptick in QB pressures which should translate into more turnovers which is the primary weakness here.

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You can’t rely on turnovers. They are great when you force them but teams can be good at protecting the ball. Checkdowns that still get you downfield are just as effective.

 

This defense needs to do more dictating like the offense does. Quit sitting back and playing passive. 

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On 7/11/2021 at 9:53 PM, NewColtsFan said:

Young players get better.

 

Young players who have only had limited opportunity get better as they get more opportunity.  
 

It’s not unreasonable to think that out of Paye, Lewis, Turay, Muhammed, Banogu, and Rochelle we can’t put together a better than expected pass rush.   Notice I didn’t even include Dayo who I wouldn’t expect before November at the earliest , and then only play very limited snaps. 
 

If you believe in this front office and it’s ability to spot and develop talent, then you have to give them props for being brave enough to let proven guys walk and replace them with young, and unproven players.   The front office and coaches believe in these players, so I will too until they give me reason not to. 

i wont ballard has had too many misses on his picks

 

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23 hours ago, Wentzszn said:

You can’t rely on turnovers. They are great when you force them but teams can be good at protecting the ball. Checkdowns that still get you downfield are just as effective.

 

This defense needs to do more dictating like the offense does. Quit sitting back and playing passive. 

You say they need to quit sitting back and playing passive but Ballard hand picked Eberflus to run a Cover 2 base scheme for this team.  He even kept him as DC after *nozzle fell out of the head coach consideration.  This goes back with Ballard to his conversations with Dungy.

 

As to Cover 2...  Dungy took an old Steelers prevent split safety shell and turned it into a great base defense.  And he did that by having great players at each level. You can really play any scheme you want if your players are good enough.  Btw and for the record I'm not a huge fan of a straight stick Cover 2.  I think having an extra level of QB confusion irt reading coverages is crucial in today's league and Cover 2 is a really basic read and progression.  But the Colts are all in with it and from that perspective in mind where they need to get better is turnovers.

 

Now how they do that starts with pressure.  This coverage scheme does have a strength in allowing DBs to play heads up.  Meaning they're ready to jump on that ball or route when it's played correctly.  Pressure up front magnifies this.  Errant passes due to pressure, or bad decisions by the QB made under duress have a really high chance of being a turnover compared to man heavy schemes because the DBs are heads up which is the strength of them sitting back as you say.  But the player quality at DB matters too of course, if a guy doesn't have the hips or wheels he's gonna have to give up more cushion than he should, or if he lacks instincts in zone he's never gonna break on the ball with anticipation.

 

But anyway.  You say we can't rely on turnovers.  Of course not.  But the fact remains that is the area this defense needs to improve to help this team take that next step.

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3 hours ago, Boondoggle said:

playing passive but Ballard hand picked Eberflus to run a Cover 2 base scheme for this team.  He even kept him as DC after *nozzle fell out of the head coach consideration.  This goes back with Ballard to his conversations with Dungy.

 

As to Cover 2...  Dungy took an old Steelers prevent split safety shell and turned it into a great base defense.  And he did that by having great players at each level. You can really play any scheme you want if your players are good enough.  Btw and for the record I'm not a huge fan of a straight stick Cover 2.  I think having an extra level of QB confusion irt reading coverages is crucial in today's league and Cover 2 is a really basic read and progression.  But the Colts are all in with it and from that perspective in mind where they need to get better is turnovers.

 

Now how they do that starts with pressure.  This coverage scheme does have a strength in allowing DBs to play heads up.  Meaning they're ready to jump on that ball or route when it's played correctly.  Pressure up front magnifies this.  Errant passes due to pressure, or bad decisions by the QB made under duress have a really high chance of being a turnover compared to man heavy schemes because the DBs are heads up which is the strength of them sitting back as you say.  But the player quality at DB matters too of course, if a guy doesn't have the hips or wheels he's gonna have to give up more cushion than he should, or if he lacks instincts in zone he's never gonna break on the ball with anticipation.

 

But anyway.  You say we can't rely on turnovers.  Of course not.  But the fact remains that is the area this defense needs to improve to help this team take that next step.

 

I could be wrong BUT I thought McDaniels picked Eberfus to be DC. :scratch:

 

No, I wasn't wrong......

https://patriotswire.usatoday.com/2018/02/22/hired-by-josh-mcdaniels-colts-dc-matt-eberflus-has-no-hard-feelings-for-almost-head-coach/

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On 7/13/2021 at 1:30 PM, Boondoggle said:

Historically the weakness of the Cover 2 scheme is stopping the run.  Which is why I feel like a big and physical four man front is best served in combination with it.  But under Flus the Colts have been in the top ten in that metric.  They've also been in the top ten in big plays allowed.  The latter is by design.

 

I get that some folks don't like the scheme.  But it's basically slow strangulation over the course of 3 hours when played correctly.  In particular it punishes explosive passing teams by forcing them to check down over and over.  From that perspective it's an ideal scheme for a passing league which is what we have today.

 

Where the Colts have come up short is turnovers.  Look at those Dungy defenses and they did a couple things that the Colts don't do...  First they punished pass catchers underneath.  Much of that was a Hall of Fame MLB prowling an enormous range and delivering timely and crushing hits, but they also had safeties coming down hard who could hit.  Second they forced turnovers with heads up plays all across the field.

 

If you take the stretch of games last year where the defense struggled they all have one thing in common: losing up front and in particular losing up front in the passing game wrt pressure.  So there's a reason why their first two picks were DEs.  2021 is a new season.  Let's wait and see how these pieces fit and if one of them (i.e. just Paye) is an impact player for them we'll see a nice uptick in QB pressures which should translate into more turnovers which is the primary weakness here.

 

  We certainly need a front four that is better at pressuring the QB.
When combined with playing with a lead that then puts our opponent in more passing situations... that will help a lot. lol

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I agree with the comments about the two magnificent passes and catches but our past rush was ridiculously bad. I have no doubt that as Ballard watch that game he wish he had a few more guys that could rush the quarterback. He went out and got two players that are dynamic and very quick. No of course they have to pan out but you got a respect what Ballard is doing in shoring up the lines 

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What I like:

  • Run D
  • takeaways. 

 

What I don't like: 

  • 3rd down D is very average
  • RZ D is below average
  • pass D in general is below average
  • We blitz at a near league low. That's predictable and allows teams to settle in. Our sack % was actually pretty decent (ranked 11th), so clearly not personnel given we only rush 4 most of the time. Yes, it felt like QBs had all day at times, but the sack % of nearly top 10 while employing a conservative rush scheme is pretty impressive if you think about it..... 

 

General thoughts

  • People say services like PFF aren't reliable because we don't know what the play call is, but one could say the same thing when people say it's execution, not scheme. Overall, I don't think it's a reach saying our D is/was very conservative on the whole. 
  • I'm not sure, but seems like we gave up a lot of cushion at times. Some specific teams, others, at specific times during games. I'd love to see some type of measurement/metric on average cushion by team. My guess is that we're among teams giving up more than average.
  •  Our D seems to be employing more rip/liz. Again, hard to tell how much exactly since we don't know what the play call is. I think we saw a few guys take steps back in coverage (especially at LB), so not sure what to think.
  • I'm not sure if the added rip/liz dimensions are requiring more thought/decisions, instead of letting players play fast. Again, hard to quantify.
  • Would love to see more DB blitzing. I don't what to be blitz happy, but we were pretty effective when we did send our DBs. Leonard was fine blitzing too, Oke was ineffective, but would like to see a few more LB blitzes too. 

At the end of the day, it seemed like good pass Os ate us up. Call it scheme, execution, talent level, whatever...... Regardless, our pass D seemed to declined as our schedule got harder. And IMO, it's one of the primary reasons we got knocked out of the playoffs. Whatever you call it, it's up to the coaches/GM to improve, either by drafting the right guys, developing the guys, or adjusting the scheme to fit the personnel.

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On 7/15/2021 at 1:44 PM, LJpalmbeacher2 said:

 

I could be wrong BUT I thought McDaniels picked Eberfus to be DC. :scratch:

 

No, I wasn't wrong......

https://patriotswire.usatoday.com/2018/02/22/hired-by-josh-mcdaniels-colts-dc-matt-eberflus-has-no-hard-feelings-for-almost-head-coach/

Yes.  But this isn't about who picked him first.  It's about the commitment to him that Ballard showed after McDaniels ran out and before there was a new HC hire.  The GM told Flus he's gonna be the guy and the new HC Reich had to sign on with that.  Ballard is committed to him and scheme.  Here's a snippet from a great Athletic article from last year:

 

Chris Ballard was in the bleachers in Miami for that Super Bowl, getting rained on, watching the team he scouted for, the Chicago Bears, come 13 points shy of a championship. Matt Eberflus was in the middle of an eight-year run as the defensive coordinator at the University of Missouri, and he credits a meeting with the two head coaches from that game — the Colts’ Dungy and the Bears’ Lovie Smith — as one of the biggest reasons he became sold on the 4-3.

 

Their paths would cross 11 years later in Indianapolis. By 2018, Ballard was the Colts’ general manager, Eberflus a respected linebackers coach in Dallas. When Ballard tapped Josh McDaniels to be his new head coach — at least for a few hours — McDaniels tapped Eberflus to become his defensive coordinator.

 

When McDaniels pulled out, Ballard refused to scramble.

 

Angry as he was that night, Ballard walked straight into Eberflus’ office and made him a promise: He was running the defense no matter who he hired as head coach. After watching Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 give up the third-most points during the 2017 NFL season, Ballard was amped to return to the 4-3 he’d grown up with in Chicago. He wanted a scheme built on speed, one that would take advantage of eight games a year on the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium, one that would take the ball away as Dungy’s did back in the early 2000s.

 

One thing I'll add is that the Colts like many teams do run Cover 4 now too, so I don't mean to insinuate they only run Cover 2.  But was just trying to draw a parallel with his background being what it is.  Flus is not going to reinvent himself.  But hopefully his defense is going to be a heck of a lot better if they can get more consistent pressure going.

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Although I can’t stand Eberflus’ soft D at times, to play devil’s advocate here he didn’t exactly have a wealth of options due to our severe lack of pass rush. It’s hard to play aggressive D when you can’t pressure the QB. Hopefully that will change this year.

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9 hours ago, chickenMan said:

Although I can’t stand Eberflus’ soft D at times, to play devil’s advocate here he didn’t exactly have a wealth of options due to our severe lack of pass rush. It’s hard to play aggressive D when you can’t pressure the QB. Hopefully that will change this year.


Yep.  I know that the D Flus played best suited the talent (or lack there of) that he had.  Statistically, it worked.  It also helped that we played some bad QBs last season.  
 

The pass rush needs to work right on the jump.  The start of the season is brutal.  Ball control offense is our best defense.  

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23 hours ago, Boondoggle said:

Yes.  But this isn't about who picked him first.  It's about the commitment to him that Ballard showed after McDaniels ran out and before there was a new HC hire.  The GM told Flus he's gonna be the guy and the new HC Reich had to sign on with that.  Ballard is committed to him and scheme.  Here's a snippet from a great Athletic article from last year:

 

Chris Ballard was in the bleachers in Miami for that Super Bowl, getting rained on, watching the team he scouted for, the Chicago Bears, come 13 points shy of a championship. Matt Eberflus was in the middle of an eight-year run as the defensive coordinator at the University of Missouri, and he credits a meeting with the two head coaches from that game — the Colts’ Dungy and the Bears’ Lovie Smith — as one of the biggest reasons he became sold on the 4-3.

 

Their paths would cross 11 years later in Indianapolis. By 2018, Ballard was the Colts’ general manager, Eberflus a respected linebackers coach in Dallas. When Ballard tapped Josh McDaniels to be his new head coach — at least for a few hours — McDaniels tapped Eberflus to become his defensive coordinator.

 

When McDaniels pulled out, Ballard refused to scramble.

 

Angry as he was that night, Ballard walked straight into Eberflus’ office and made him a promise: He was running the defense no matter who he hired as head coach. After watching Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 give up the third-most points during the 2017 NFL season, Ballard was amped to return to the 4-3 he’d grown up with in Chicago. He wanted a scheme built on speed, one that would take advantage of eight games a year on the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium, one that would take the ball away as Dungy’s did back in the early 2000s.

 

One thing I'll add is that the Colts like many teams do run Cover 4 now too, so I don't mean to insinuate they only run Cover 2.  But was just trying to draw a parallel with his background being what it is.  Flus is not going to reinvent himself.  But hopefully his defense is going to be a heck of a lot better if they can get more consistent pressure going.

 

Just reading back through the exchange (not just the above post), I'd say the following.

  • I don't necessarily agree our top 10 ranking in big plays allowed is by design in a C2. Giving up yardage yes, but big plays, IDK about that.
  • While we do play C2 at times, we also play C3 (single high) and all kinds of rip/liz sets. In short, I wouldn't say we're simply a C2 or T2. Willis is playing shallow a ton, way too much for a traditional C2. It's pretty funky to me in general, but I'd say for the most part it's simply conservative zone. I really wish we had cushion stats readily available.
  • And I really wouldn't fault lack of sacks. We were top 10ish in sack %, while very average or even below average in passer rating allowed (coverage). If pressures is your hot button, I'd say the fact we blitz at a near league low, is a huge factor. And of course you have to factor in our poor SOS, and poor quality of QBs we faced last year.
  • As someone else noted, Ballard didn't really pick Eberflus. Yes he kept him, but it would have been poor optics to drop him after he already left Dallas and accepted the job. I actually though he'd bring some of the aggressiveness from Dallas, but he seemed to go back to scheme from Missouri which also gave up a ton of passing yardage and points whenever he played one of the decent teams from the B12 South.
  • In short, not sure a few drafted DEs will really change the tone of our D. We have other issues as well IMO.
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On 7/12/2021 at 2:23 AM, NewColtsFan said:

Lol….   Who said he was?   
 

The point was not that it only happened once — it clearly didn’t.    The point is that we DON’T play a bend but don’t break defense.  

 

Sometimes we do, regardless what it's called. When you often give receivers large cushions and when Hooker played he was often so Deep he wouldn't even be in the camera shot. 

Of course I think all teams play soft in certain situations,  like 3rd & very long, up by multiple scores in 4th quarter etc...  But the colts scheme is soft more often.

 

As far as the Pass Rush, ALL DEFENSES would benefit from a strong pass rush from the front 4..... so far we haven't seen it here yet, maybe with the progression of a few previous draft picks AND this years top 2 picks that will change? .....we'll see.

 

 

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