This season has shown the many flaws of the coaching of the Indianapolis Colts. However, hopefully the coaches can learn from this experience and improve next season.
The hurry up mode will be coming back next season! With the starters back in the lineup, we can successfully operate our offense while the defense cant sub out or choose plays. With the hurry up mode, I think our offense will be very efficient and will be able to convert the first 3, 3rd and 1s in our playoff games. However a few offensive playcalls I would stop using would be
-Bubble Screens. They dont work more often then they do. Besides, Garcon is the only decent blocker at reciever we have. Wayne/Collie/Gonzo/White dont have the push you need to do these types of plays.
-Running down the gut. With Clark back in the lineup, we can use the Stretch play that the Colts are famous for. We didnt use them much due to Lilja being cut (he was the best blocking at the play) but if Charlie Johnson is moved to Left Guard, he will provide the speed and agility that Lilja had to block the outside.
If the Colts beef up their line during the off season, I do believe we can see more stretches, draws and things of that nature, as well as more deep passes and a better running game.
Also, too many times have I seen Collie or White do a deep route while Garcon stays short. Their roles should be switched, Garcon is a natural deep threat while Collie and White are possession recievers. The coaches need to take advantage of their abilities and use it as much as possible. Another example is the use of Donald Brown. Brown and Addai have different running styles, Addai specializes in finding a small hole and hitting it for a gain of 3 or 4, while Brown likes having alittle open space, and being able to zoom right past it. Asking Brown to take on Bruiser back duties (which he has been doing) is like asking Manning to scramble every other play like Michael Vick. Every player serves a different purpose, its the coaches fault for not playing the game to the abilities of the players.
Many people questioned the use of stunts this season. Something many people dont realize is that they actually do work! However the coaching staff uses them at the wrong time. From what I've seen, the Colts are at their best stunting when its on a running down. It confuses the less disciplined lines, and matches slow guards with people like Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis causing someone to miss their gap assignment, leading to a loss or a small gain.
But on a passing down, such as 3rd and 8, why in the world would you stunt? I'd understand if you stunted Moala/Mookie, but not Freeney/Mathis. Freeney and Mathis are pure pass rushing specialists, they love 3rd and longs, and quarterbacks always sweat alittle on them. Stunting with them completely negates the pass rush, as you arent generating any pressure using this! A comprimise I would agree on with Coyer, since he loves stunting, is ONLY stunting the DTs on passing downs. It would also confuse some of the less disciplined lines and allow some holes to open down the middle while Freeney and Mathis tear up the outside. Why would you pay like 98 million (well alot) on just Defensive Ends and then not use them?
I understand that players get paid for sacks, but I dont understand why players like Freeney and Mathis go in for a hard pass rush to the outside on plays like 2nd and 1. Doing this is the reason we allow so many big plays, coaches know that Freeney and Mathis are going to the outside and that there will be an open gap due to it. If everyone could just play efficiently and try to play the run when its obvious that its a run, I think the Colts run defense will greatly improve.
3rd and 4th Downs:
Start blitzing. It takes away the threat of a run, and provides an extra pass rush while our corners can play Man Coverage to the outside. And with Tryon and Powers in the lineup, we can actually play man! Just as long as Hayden or Lacey doesnt get burned. What was the biggest game of the year last year (Beside playoffs)? Thats right. The annual Colts/Pats game. Remember 4th and 2? Remember what defensive play we called to bring it to 4th and 2? Thats right, a blitz. And remember what playcall we used to cause a turnover? Yep, another hard blitz. The colts are a pass rushing team at heart, especially with great blitzers in Clint Session and Gary Brackett but havent realized their true potential due to the conservative playcalling of Caldwell, Tony Dungy (he was a great coach, but I disliked his conservativeness), Ron Meeks, and all the other coaches we've seen in this era.
Prevent Defense, prevents you from winning the game. Our coaches are playing too conservatively, I dont know any other team that goes 4 deep once we have a 2 score lead in the third quarter. Our coaches arent playing to win the game, they're playing not to lose it. This reason is exactly why some games came way too close to beating us. Play cover 3 or cover 2 but atleast TRY to force the Quarterback with hard edge rushes by Freeney and Mathis,into a bad throw instead of giving him all day to chose his best option.
** Im not saying NEVER play prevent, but atleast play alittle defense.. whats better, forcing a 3 and out and scoring more so the other team has to play catch up, or just killing time and trying not to lose in the end.
I dont like Larry Coyer. I like how he actually blitzes unlike any coach the Colts have had in the past decade, but his matchups are just absurd. Lacey (5'10) on Edwards (6'3) is a bad matchup on anydays. So is putting Pat Angerer on Wes Welker. The Colts need to fix their game time match ups, DURING the game. Not during halftime. Its not rocket science.
With Special Teams captain Melvin Bullit back, with people like Jamie Silva, I dont think our special teams coverage will be as horrible as this year. And with key blockers such as Tom Santi (if he isnt cut) coming back, We might be able to get past the 20 on most returns... woohoooo.
Also with Taj Smith lighting up special teams play in the past few weeks, I think we have alot to look foward to during 2011 :)
Timeouts and Challenges:
Hopefully Caldwell can learn from his mistakes this year and stop wasting our challenges and timeouts, especially to the other team's gain. I dont forsee this as a problem, as Caldwell gained valuable coaching experience this season.