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Thread: Building from Within

  1. #1
    Fat, Drunk and Stupid Lord Helmet's Avatar
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    Default Building from Within

    Dwight Freeney tackled a question everyone seems to be trumpeting as the Indianapolis Colts head into their third training camp today under coach Tony Dungy.

    "Why," the Pro Bowl end was asked, "will the defense be better this year?"

    "We did lose some key guys," Freeney replied, considering the offseason departures of linebacker Marcus Washington, lineman Chad Bratzke and cornerbacks Walt Harris and David Macklin. "At the same time, the system still is in place and we've got some young guys who learned from those guys who left.

    ". . . We're going to get better."

    They have to get better, be more reliable and consistent, than they were in 2003. The defense has to eliminate the peaks and valleys that tested Dungy's patience. Remember how it yielded 465 total yards to Denver during a 31-17 regular-season loss, only to rebound two weeks later and limit those same Broncos to 322 yards in a 41-10 playoff triumph?

    The improvement process starts this afternoon when players report to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., and accelerates with the first practice Monday morning.

    No one questions the veracity of an offense that features quarterback Peyton Manning, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, running back Edgerrin James and a deep supporting cast.

    Everyone not associated with the Colts questions the defense. It ranked No. 11 in total yards a year ago, but don't let that fool you. After allowing the seventh-fewest points in the league in 2002 (313), Dungy's first as head coach and Ron Meeks' first as coordinator, the defense slipped into a tie for 20th last season. The 336 points were the most allowed by a team that reached the playoffs.

    "The points is the big thing," Dungy said. "We gave up more big plays (than in '02), we didn't play as consistently and we had a few games where we gave up some high numbers."

    Including the postseason, the defense yielded at least 27 points in seven of 19 games and at least 31 on five occasions.

    Improvement will be realized only if youth is served. Consider:

    • The pecking order at weak-side linebacker, the play-making position in Dungy's cover-2 scheme, is Cato June, Gilbert Gardner and Kendyll Pope. June, a third-round draft pick in 2003, failed to register a defensive tackle and played almost exclusively on special teams as a rookie. Gardner, a former Purdue standout, and Florida State's Pope were third- and fourth-round picks, respectively, in April.

    • The cornerback mix includes Nick Harper -- a 13-game starter in '03 -- Donald Strickland and Joseph Jefferson. Including the playoffs, Strickland started 11 games as a rookie, but all were at safety. Neither Strickland nor Jefferson has taken a meaningful NFL snap at cornerback, let alone started a game at that spot.

    • Iowa safety Bob Sanders, the team's top draft pick who was taken in the second round, is expected to push veteran Idrees Bashir for the starting free safety spot. If he unseats Bashir, the starting safeties would be a rookie and second-year pro Mike Doss.

    "We've got a lot of talent, young talent," said Doss, a 15-game starter as a rookie. "That means we not only will play this year together, but play a couple of years together and grow.

    "We're moving forward."

    When the preseason runs its course, the Colts will be back in Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., for a Sept. 9 regular season-opening rematch with the Patriots. New England might not recognize the Indy defense. It might include six different starters from the unit that opened the AFC title game against New England just over six months ago.

    That rearrangement includes David Thornton, last year's weak-side linebacker starter and leading tackler. He has moved to the strong-side, or "Sam," position to replace Washington.

    "I'm not worried at all," team president Bill Polian said during the offseason.

    The Colts were one of five teams that did not sign a player during the NFL's veteran free agent signing period. Money was tight in the aftermath of handing Manning a landmark $34.5 million signing bonus in March as part of his seven-year, $98 million contract.

    But even if so much hadn't been invested in the league's co-Most Valuable Player, it's unlikely the team would have gone on a shopping spree. It prefers to build from within. It prefers to tap into its own young talent: June, Strickland, Jefferson, linebackers Gary Brackett and Keyon Whiteside, safety Anthony Floyd.

    "For the most part," Dungy said, "guys usually play well when they get the chance. If you're right -- if you're drafting well -- the guys do come through."

    If a handful of rookies or unproven second-year players emerge from camp playing key roles on defense, Dungy added, "they have to respond."

    "Last year, we didn't know we would be counting on Donald Strickland so much, or (rookie offensive tackle) Makoa Freitas or (rookie wide receiver) Aaron Moorehead. When we did, they came through."

    Dungy refutes the notion the Colts' defense regressed in 2003.

    "I don't think we took any steps back," he said. "We didn't take the steps forward that I would have liked to have taken. Hopefully that improvement comes this year."

    Working on Sanders

    Discussions to reach a contract agreement with Sanders, the team's lone unsigned draft pick, had yet to be finalized Saturday evening.

    "We're continuing to work on it," Neil Cornrich, Sanders' agent, said. "We have to see what happens."

    Without a contract, Sanders is not allowed to report today for the start of camp with the rest of the team. He was the 44th overall selection in the April draft.

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Building from Within

    I think the defense may be decent this year.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Building from Within

    I think our D may end up like our current Pacers.Young but very good.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Building from Within

    Perhaps in the future it will, but I don't see the defense being stellar this year.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Building from Within

    Well I didn't mean right away.Look at the Pacers 3 years ago after the rebuilding.They were 41-41 and they had to win the last 5 games of the season and the Bucks had to lose in order for them just to make the playoffs.I expect our D to improve alittle this year.
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    Default Re: Building from Within

    Improve a little I agree with.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Building from Within

    I still think we should have signed a vet though.
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    Boom Baby'er ABADays's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building from Within

    Hell - the defense only has to be average.
    The best exercise of the human heart is reaching down and picking someone else up.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Building from Within

    Quote Originally Posted by ABADays
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    Hell - the defense only has to be average.
    Which it hadn't until last season, but it still wasn't good enough. The same problems that had been there for years were still revealed on occasion.

    Although, I am one who thinks the Patriots got away with more than they should have in the championship game. Then again, the Colts should have been prepared and adjusted like the Patriots had done.

    The Colts' defense needs to control the opponents' running game or the team will not get past the conference championship game.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Building from Within

    Quote Originally Posted by MSA2CF
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    Quote Originally Posted by ABADays
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    Hell - the defense only has to be average.
    Which it hadn't until last season, but it still wasn't good enough. The same problems that had been there for years were still revealed on occasion.

    Although, I am one who thinks the Patriots got away with more than they should have in the championship game. Then again, the Colts should have been prepared and adjusted like the Patriots had done.

    The Colts' defense needs to control the opponents' running game or the team will not get past the conference championship game.
    Anyone remember when the Pats played in the dome?Who was it MCginnest ? he fakd an injury so the no huddle Colts would have to stop and the Pats could make adjustments and then in the last play he is all of a sudden not hurt and makes the game winning stop.The bad part is that I was there and had to witness the 4 and 1 carnage.
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Building from Within

    I remember, pacerfan. If I may borrow a line from Daffy Duck: "Deeeeeeeeespicablllle!"

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Building from Within

    Why didn't Peyton take one for the team on 4th and 1.He probably could have jumped over the dog pile.
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    Default Re: Building from Within

    Article should have read: The colts were too cheap and are too small a market to get any good free agents so now the front office is trying to make the homegrown talent look better. Because trades don't happen in the NFL.

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    Default Re: Building from Within

    Quote Originally Posted by Pig
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    Article should have read: The colts were too cheap and are too small a market to get any good free agents so now the front office is trying to make the homegrown talent look better. Because trades don't happen in the NFL.
    Yea we didn't do anything but I still think we could have a decent Defense.I just hope this year that since the Colts were good last year that we don't have to worry about the dreaded blackouts.I mean if we can't sell out the dome what makes you think we could sell out a 70,000 capacity stadium.Last year during one of the home games I saw someone sitting reading a book.At a FOOTBALL GAME!!We need better fan support or the ticket prices need to be lowered.Becuase most of the diehard fans have lower incomes.
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  15. #15
    Jimmy did what Jimmy did Bball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building from Within

    Quote Originally Posted by pacerfan2425
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSA2CF
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    Quote Originally Posted by ABADays
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    Hell - the defense only has to be average.
    Which it hadn't until last season, but it still wasn't good enough. The same problems that had been there for years were still revealed on occasion.

    Although, I am one who thinks the Patriots got away with more than they should have in the championship game. Then again, the Colts should have been prepared and adjusted like the Patriots had done.

    The Colts' defense needs to control the opponents' running game or the team will not get past the conference championship game.
    Anyone remember when the Pats played in the dome?Who was it MCginnest ? he fakd an injury so the no huddle Colts would have to stop and the Pats could make adjustments and then in the last play he is all of a sudden not hurt and makes the game winning stop.The bad part is that I was there and had to witness the 4 and 1 carnage.


    OTOH... the Colts were lucky to even have a shot at winning the game at the end. We spotted NE a fairly good lead.

    -Bball
    O'Brien has been fired! Yay! What took so long?

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    "A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group, thatís teamwork."

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  16. #16

    Default Re: Building from Within

    Bball, is your signature really what that man said?

  17. #17
    Fat, Drunk and Stupid Lord Helmet's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building from Within

    Anyone going to watch the Colts first preseason game?It's Sat the 14 @ 9:00p.m. They play San Diego.Is it going to be on Ch 8?
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