Colts Authority's Colts Notebook for November 16th, with quotes and information courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts Public Relations Department.
Priority One: Make Them One-Dimensional
The Colts’ focus against the Patriots Sunday is no secret. They will look to take a dimension away from the New England’s high-scoring offense. But which one? The Patriots average 430 yards and 33 points per game. Their rushing attack is formidable this year, averaging 146 yards per game, their tight ends are an exceedingly difficult matchup, and Tom Brady is Tom Brady.
Colts Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky talked yesterday about both the importance and the difficulty of making the Patriots offense one-dimensional. “Anytime you get a team one-dimensional either running the ball or throwing the ball, it helps you out defensively,” he said. “We’ve got to take away the run and the pass both which is difficult because they lead in a lot of categories in the NFL; they’re up in the top 10. It’s a challenge like it is every week.”
Over the past four games, while the Indianapolis offense has averaged 138.5 rushing yards per game, the defense has quietly given up an average of just 72 yards per game on the ground. What changed from the preceding three-game stretch in which opponents ran the ball so effectively? According to Manusky, it’s about health and teammates getting comfortable on the field together.
“We get a couple guys that are healthy that are coming back,” he said. “It’s always a process and Chuck (Pagano) always talked about the process and that’s what it is. They feel comfortable with guys around them starting to play a little bit better and feel better with the guys in front, what they’re going to do, and the guys behind just playing together as a unit, and together.”
It may not sound like much, but cohesion is very important in football. All eleven specialized parts working together properly can be a significant boost to any unit on the field. And healthy starters certainly don’t hurt matters.
Taking on Tom Brady
No lead up to a Colts-Patriots game would be complete without compliments and mutual respect. As the Colts defense works to find a way to stop, disrupt, and generally wreak havoc upon the New England passing attack, they had nothing but kind words about the Patriots’ star quarterback.
Colts Inside Linebacker Jerrell Freeman on Brady: “(Tom) Brady has total control of that offense. Definitely going to try and not let him get in a rhythm. Get off the field on third downs; they have one of the top third-down percentages. We’ve got to get them off the field and that’s all Tom Brady.”
Colts Outside Linebacker Dwight Freeney, on whether it means more to be able to sack a player like Tom Brady: “Tom’s an amazing player. To be able to get to him, he’s not the fastest guy and all that, but he throws that ball quick and he understands the timing of certain pass plays and how to get rid of the ball and how not to get hit. I guess that’s the formula of him playing for so long is to have that. So yeah, it’ll be a little bit special. I always like to get Tom.”
On how to prevent Brady from getting into a rhythm, Greg Manusky said, “Tell me, I’d like to know that one too. He does get in a rhythm. Like most quarterbacks, you try to get him out of that rhythm. It’s hard to get good quarterbacks out of that rhythm, but we’re going to try.”
Never Been to Foxborough
With such a young group of players, so many of whom are rookies, most of the Colts roster has not yet played a game in Gillette Stadium. Although this would likely prove true with most non-divisional away games right now, much has been made of so many players getting their first taste of such an unwelcoming environment.
Jerrell Freeman doesn’t wish to concern himself with the collective lack of familiarity with unfriendly confines of Gillette Stadium. It will be loaded with the opposing team’s fans, as would any other away stadium. “I mean a crowd is a crowd,” he said. “We get big crowds everywhere. You’ve got to be professional about it. You’re out there to play a game so that’s what we are going to do.”
“No concern,” added Colts Linebacker and New England (Connecticut) native Dwight Freeney about the young guys playing their first game in Foxborough. “You just have to prep them on the history and I’m sure there are some guys that will be throwing the bird up on the way to the stadium. You’ll see a little bit of that. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. It’s going to definitely be a football atmosphere and I can’t wait to be a part of it again.”
Darius Butler Finding a Good Fit
Colts Cornerback Darius Butler is one of those players who have bounced around the league, now on his third team in four seasons. Butler was cut by New England after two years and was cut by the Carolina Panthers after just one. However, cutting a player isn’t always about his ability to play football. Schemes don’t always align with a player’s strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes, a player needs to mature and improve his work ethic.
Manusky was asked what kind of a player he sees in Butler. “Talented,” he began. “I think it was great picking him up in the offseason like we did or during the season, excuse me. He’s just making steady progress; it’s a process, like I said earlier. But all the guys that we suit up during the regular season are doing a good job.”
“I think sometimes when guys bounce around after a couple of seasons,” said Manusky about Butler finding a role with the Colts, “then all of the sudden they have to take notice that ‘Hey, I’ve got to square up and start studying and understanding exactly what they want to do’ and that’s what he’s done.”
Josh Chapman Watch
Josh Chapman, the Colts’ highly anticipated 316-pound rookie nose tackle did not practice Thursday. A tough, no-nonsense run stopper at the University of Alabama, Chapman has captured the imagination of many Colts fans since he fell to the fifth round of the NFL draft due to injury, where he was picked up by the Colts.
Manusky, who spoke glowingly of the young defensive tackle, was asked what he saw in Chapman and when he expects to be able to play him. “As soon as possible,” he answered. “I’m seeing a big body framed guy that doesn’t get pushed back which is always good and get some push up the middle. It’s great to get one of those draft choices that we got in there starting to play this year. He’s doing okay, but it’s also a process just like every other guy.”
For the Colts:
Did not practice: CB Vontae Davis – knee, TE Coby Fleener – shoulder, RB Donald Brown – knee, OLB Robert Mathis – back, NT Josh Chapman – knee
Full participation: T Winston Justice – knee, C Samson Satele – back
Davis and Fleener were ruled out earlier in the week. Robert Mathis expects to play.
And the Patriots:
Did not practice: G Dan Connolly – back, G Logan Mankins – ankle/calf, WR Wes Welker – ankle
Limited practice participation: DT Ron Brace – elbow, WR Deion Branch – hamstring, S Patrick Chung – shoulder/hamstring, S Steven Gregory – hip, TE Rob Gronkowski – hip, TE Aaron Hernandez – ankle, LB Dont’a Hightower – hamstring, WR Brandon Lloyd – knee, OL Nick McDonald – shoulder, DE Trevor Scott – hamstring, LB Brandon Spikes – knee, OT Sebastian Vollmer – back/knee, LB Tracy White – foot, CB Malcolm Williams – thigh
Full Participation: WR Julian Edelman – hand, DT Kyle Love – knee, LB Jerod Mayo – elbow