INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 27: Robert Mathis #98 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates after a sack during the game against the Carolina Panthers at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
1070 ESPN radio in Indianapolis did an interview with Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky earlier this week. I missed the chat, but the station posts regular podcasts of their key interviews online.
We Stampede Blue writers and editors were not been warm and fuzzy with Chuck Pagano hiring Manusky to run his defense. I had several people at the NFL Draft (and by people I mean credible media who cover the NFL, not drunk Eagles fans or obnoxious Jets fans) tell me that Manusky was not respected in either San Francisco or San Diego. Manusky was fired as defensive coordinator by both those franchise in less than two years. Hardly encouraging.
Now, while this judgment of Manusky is based on the quality of his previous work and the reputation he has around the league, that doesn't mean Manusky is a "bad guy." In fact, in interviews he comes off as a pretty cool dude who just loves to coach football. While it's nice that our team's new D.C. doesn't sound like a douche, being nice doesn't get you much in the NFL. It's about winning, and in the case of a coordinator, it's about winning and having your crew listed in the Top Ten of most significant statistical categories.
Yes folks. Any coordinator who tells you, "We don't look at stats," is lying to your face. They all look at stats, and are evaluated by their superiors based on those stats.
Poor stats got former defensive coordinator Larry Coyer fired midseason last year. Manusky does not want to endure a similar fate. His career cannot afford it. Thus, when asked by 1070 ESPN radio host Jon Michael "JMV" Vincent what he expects from his defense on Sunday against the Rams, Manusky's answer was... interesting.
Violence. Really taking it to the offense. I think, from the standpoint of our front seven, to really strike guys.
In light of the bounty cases involving current and former players on the New Orleans Saints coupled with the concussion lawsuit against the NFL by well over 1,000 former players, using language like "violence" to describe how you want your defense to play might not be wise, coach.
Look, I'm not saying Manusky is advocating that his players intentionally injure or concuss the opponent. Let's not take that leap. I'm just saying he needs to choose his words more carefully. Football is, by nature, a violent game, but the violence many people have come to love over the years is simply not attainable in the modern era. We know too much about how concussions affect people. This is why the league is more pass happy than ever.
Also, unlike previous eras, every word and phrase uttered by a coach or player is now recorded, blogged about, and tweeted. Everything is amplified and on-the-record if it is said in public. Everything.
Manusky is an old school coach who played in the NFL during the era of Lawrence Taylor, a man who would receive Pro Bowl nods and All-Pro awards for intentionally injuring players on a year-to-year basis. Taylor wouldn't last five minutes in the modern NFL.
Like it or not, that's how the league is today. I understand what Coach Manusky is asking for, and regardless of his failures in SF and SD, I am rooting for him in Indianapolis. However, I think he needs to watch his words in the future. They could get taken the wrong way by people much more powerful in league circles than bloggers like me.