Stampede Blue at the Super Bowl: A Conversation with Larry Coyer

The best signing of an assistant coach last off-season was not Mike Nolan to the Broncos. It was Larry Coyer to the Colts. Coyer's "tweaks" to the Colts defensive system has helped create a very formidable defense led by Gary Brackett, Dwight Freeney, and Antoine Bethea. Also consider that the Colts have played virtually the entire season without Bob Sanders. Coyer's work has indeed been impressive, and fans have taken note. Coach Coyer was kind enough to answer some questions from Stampede Blue today during the Colts early morning press event.

I suggest reading the entire interview, especially the part where Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star makes an appearance and asks Coyer about Dwight Freeney possibly getting moved to left end for the Super Bowl. Enjoy.

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BBS: In an interview you did after you were let go from Denver in 2007, you said you like being a defensive coordinator as well as a position coach because, you felt, it put you on "even footing" with your staff. Here, with the Indianapolis Colts, you are only the coordinator. Do you feel that you are on "even footing" with your assistant coaches?

Larry Coyer: Yes, because I’ve known John Teerlick, Mike Murphy, Alan [Williams], these guys have all been around and I’ve known them over the years. So, that’s very comfortable because they know what we’re doing before I know what we’re doing, if you know what I’m talking about. They’re very astute. So, that’s a blessing to have a staff like that. I would still have a passion to coach [a position] if I could still stay healthy enough, long enough, maybe I’ll be able to do that. Because that’s the real joy of football for me: Coaching.

BBS: Would you consider yourself a defensive "guru?"

LC: There’s no such thing, in my mind. I’m just a football coach, and I’ve been blessed to be put where I am. I think the circumstances with coaches, you’re a direct result of your players. And if you’ve got good players, you’re good coach. But, if your players aren’t quite so good, you’re not a very good coach. The blessing here is these guys are a really unique group.

BBS: How does this group compare to others? Is it because of their work ethic?

LC: This team is unique in that way. And they are unique in their cohesiveness. They’ve won a lot of games together. And I think that breeds some confidence. They’re a real cohesive group. This was done by Coach Dungy, the running to the ball, the speed of the defense; all that is Coach Dungy. We really can’t take any credit for what he’s done. We were recipients of the program he built here. These [players] are like him and Coach Caldwell; quality guys. Not everybody’s perfect, but they are cohesive, they run, and they play. It’s hard to describe. It’s really hard to describe what kind of group they are. You don’t get many like that.

BBS: How did they respond to your "tweaks" to the Tampa-2 defensive style?

LC: Well, there are not that many tweaks. These guys are pros. We just sat down and had a talk about what maybe might be good for our football team. And from that point we just worked forward. From the day we got together, it’s been amazing. They’re receptive. They’re professional. They play fast. Anything you tweak they jump on. There was no resistance. They jumped on it. We’re trying to have fun. Really, we are. If you don’t do it in this game, it will get you because we started this game in July!

At this point in the discussion, Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star, who was with me at the interview table with Coyer, asked about the possibility of Freeney playing the Super Bowl at left defensive end. He asked Coyer if the Colts coaches were considering swapping Freeney and Mathis. Coyer responded…

LC: Swapping and all that, that would be a decision by Jim Caldwell.

Bob Kravitz: I just spoke with [Raheem Brock] and he said if Freeney cant go, I’m starting at left end, Robert at right end. You wouldn’t be suggesting that maybe there’s some smoke going on?

LC: I don’t have a clue. I would trust Raheem’s information. I just don’t happen to have it at this time. (Everyone at the table laughs)

I give Bob some credit. Good question. And no, I’m not complimenting Bob simply because he is currently sitting about 15 feet away from me. If I had just gotten info like that from a player, that’s a DING! DING! DING! moment because info does seem to suggest maybe something is up. As Bob told me later, the Colts are being unusually transparent in all this. However, Coyer answered it very well by not providing an answer, which then prompted the people around the table to laugh about it. I then broke in…

BBS: Does the gameplan change if Freeney is significantly hobbled?

LC: No. We would not make any changes. We’ve had it before, different situations, different guys. You can’t predicate anything on any one guy.

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Special thanks to Coach Coyer for his time and his insight. Maybe we will see Bob write something tomorrow that will flesh out what he was asking Coyer about. Yesterday, I asked a writer here who is in-the-know about switching Freeney to LE for the Super Bowl. He said it would be a mistake. "You don’t want to take him out of his comfort zone," he said. Plus, the risk for injuring something else increases with him playing a different area of the d-line. If you recall, Freeney’s quad injury earlier this year was because he lined up at LE on a play against the Cardinals.

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