I flipping loved the Trip-TE's. That is a mismatch nightmare for defenses if used effectively. And, here's a fun little explanation why the Trip-TE's set the Colts ran could pay dividends in the playoffs (I say the playoffs specifically because of it's possibilities and the limited exposure opposing teams would have to game plan against it).
First of all, not everyone knows how defenses call their formations. They do so by watching the personnel the offense sends on to the field. Three wide receivers? Maybe they send in a nickel. Two tight-ends? Base defense, etc. Given the Colts have run this offensive formation, what, once? When an opposing DC sees the Colts run Doyle & Saunders onto the field the most he’s going to do is account for Fleener in the slot... or in other words not care. And literally speaking, he's not going to have all of his pass defenders (nickel and dime corners) on the field.
So, if a team stays in their base defense they've got 3 to 4 linebackers on the field. Vs. a man-to-man defense Fleener is always going to draw the corner. So, passing situations are limited. But, for Doyle & Saunders the defense has to either bring a safety down to cover one of them. Or, send two linebackers out there to cover. Against any base defense this only leaves 1 true run stopping linebacker left in the mix.
Oh yea... everyone's going to hate this. The primary mismatch it creates is in the running game. If the opposing team sends two linebackers out to cover it creates a 5-on-5 situation against the run. The Colts just have to create a quick seam to get their back to the second level. If the Colts split out wide receivers in this same bunch-wide formation, yes. They're going to create the greater mismatch for the running game. But, the threat of a big play is even more magnified when you use the tight-ends. Consider this...
If the Colts run this play 3-4 times in a game and they're gaining successfully on the ground what is the opposing defense going to do? Account for the run (or maybe not... either way the Colts are gaining yards). And, they can only do this one of a few ways.
1. They can try to defend the bunch with a zone scheme. This would typically be frowned upon in the NFL just for the simple fact if you don't man up all 3 you could easily find yourself with 1 corner and 1 safety trying to defend all three in the end zone. But, even in a prevent-style defense in which the backs & backers just try to keep everything in front of them you've just created the separation necessary to get even the Jack Doyle's of the world wide open 5-8 yards down field.
2. The second situation becomes a little more of a gadget play. But, creates the greatest possibility for a big play. So, what we have right now is a 5-on-5 situation in the trenches. The opposing team's head coach is threatening the defensive coordinator's family because his defense is just getting gashed by the Colts' run game. So, what's he going to do? He's going to man-up Saunders with his strong safety and send his free safety to center field while bringing a linebacker back to the box for run support. This puts a safety, corner, and linebacker on an island all alone. So now, you throw to the running back in the flat. If the linebacker keyed in on the back even realizes the Colts aren't running out of this formation this time he's going to be trying to chase down the back from behind. This creates the exact same mismatch as before. You've got 3 blockers vs. 3 defenders. But now, you've got three 6'5 260lb tight-ends against a linebacker, safety, and a corner. Most importanly of all, the defense doesn't have but a single player left to defend if the back can get to the second level.
The opposing defense is almost always going to opt to put at least 6 guys in the box the attempt to slow down the run. And, that's fine with me and should be with all of you because apparantly you all hate running the football. But, you've just created a mismatch on every level of the field. Either they give up support on the second level over the top, or they give up man-on-man situations in the trenches. Most teams run the ball with as many as 7 blockers vs. 7 and 8 man defenses. 6-on-6 and 5-on-5 is a victory. Not to mention, no matter how an opposing team chooses to defend they have to drop blanket coverage off T.Y. and now that corner is on an island.
And, nary forget this team had 2 receiving threat tight-ends when Pep began installing this offensive system. In the coming years we would hope to have Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen out on the island creating a greater threat for the pass. And, with all that said, it's not about hitting home runs and dropping 50-yard bombs down field each play anyway. Like Dan Marino once told Peyton Manning, "The only thing that matters is the first down."
So, hate on Pep all you want. I for one get excited with his creativity. I'm not going to disagree with you. There has been more than a few times this season where I really questioned his competency for NFL coaching. But, don't hate on the Trip-TE's.