Just about the time training camp opened back in July, Colts owner Jim Irsay told the media he expected his team's new defense - built, in large part, via free agency this offseason - to become a "cornerstone" of the franchise. He also told everyone that the model for this year's team was the 2004 New England Patriots, a team built around a suffocating defense, solid running game, timely quarterback play, and a clutch kicker named Adam Vinatieri.
After watching the Colts' 37-3 dismantling of the Jaguars on Sunday, which included 4 sacks, 3 interceptions, and completely shutting down Jacksonville's once vaunted rushing attack, I'm thinking Irsay might have been on to something.
Obviously, the Jaguars are terrible. They're also throwing the 2013 season, and I can't say I blame them. Their front office is building for the future, and if you want to do that your team needs to have a stink bomb season. See Colts 2011 and Colts 1997 for examples closer to home.
However, even though it was the pitiful Jags, holding any team to 3 points in their house is an accomplishment. The other numbers simply reinforce the dominance:
- 205 total yards allowed
- 3 interceptions, with one returned for a touchdown in the second quarter by Darius Butler
- Maurice Jones-Drew held to 23 yards on 13 carries at 1.7 yards-a-carry, his worst outing against Indy ever!
- 4 sacks, including 3 by Robert Mathis
- Holding the Jaguars to 2/11 on third down
- The goal line stand in the 4th quarter, not allowing the Jaguars to score late even though the game was already decided
The 4th quarter defensive stand was especially captivating for me. In years past, when their team was up 34-3 on an opponent, the Colts would pull their defensive starters out in the 4th quarter, allowing the opponent to add some garbage yards and points to the final score. With this team, and with this head coach, they do not have that mentality. Even with the game essentially over, the Colts kept their defensive starters in the game when the Jaguars drove inside the Indy 5 yard line.
They simply did not want to give up a touchdown.
That stand was a change in mindset for this Colts franchise, and I'm very interested to see how that mindset evolves going forward.
For now, the very thing Chuck Pagano was brought to Indianapolis to do is happening. The defense is rising. The "monster" is filing its teeth.