This is an idea: it's pretty obvious that Gilbert Gardner is simply not getting it done as the OLB on the strong side. LenDale White's 20 yard run was because Gardner broke containment and let a big, fat, slow RB lose into the secondary. Plays like this have hurt the Colts all year. They stuff the run, stuff the run, then allow a 20 yard gain.
So, here's some suggestions:
- Bench Gardner and re-introduce him to the wonderful, exciting world of special teams play.
- Start Rob Morris as the MLB. The run defense was better with him playing MLB while Gary Brackett was out.
- Move Brackett to Gardner's old spot. Brackett is actually the reserve strong side backer if Gardner gets hurt. He's also the defensive captain. So, benching him for Morris is not even an option. This allows Brackett, who is an excelent coverage backer and is good at containment, to solidy the strong side LBer position and shore up the run defense.
If these don't sound appealing, then just simply bench Gardner for Boiman or Keiaho. The woes of the run defense are not all Gilbert's fault. Injuries, missed assignments, and bad tackling have all contributed at different times. However, it's obvious that something needs to change. Some spark is needed.
I understand the coaching concepts of "don't panic" and "over-reaction," but a change is indeed needed to fix a glaring problem. It's a problem so glaring Raheem Brock commented on it:
Because of all the injuries, many of them devastating, I have given this defense the benefit of the doubt, and I think that is only fair. If Chicago lost Tommie Harris and Tank Johnson for the season, you could basically cross them off the list. Their season would be over. If Dallas lost Jason Ferguson at all, their defense would be completely shot. Same with Seymour and Warren in New England. Without them, their defense looks like... well, it would look like their defense last season (which stunk).
So, for the Colts to lose both their starting DTs from last year is a significant blow. Trading for McFarland has cushioned that blow, but it is still significant. That doesn't change the fact that both McFarland and Brock were never in the Colts plans to start at DT when the season began. This, coupled with the loss of both Doss for the season and Sanders for much of it thus far, have been the main culprits for the Colts inept run defense.
Injuries hurt. They are never an excuse, but often a reason for bad play. For this reason I have given them slack. However, that slack is now coming to an end. I expect improvement now. If they allow Jackonsville the kind of rushing yards they allowed Tennessee, then the Colts have serious issues. They are under my microscope this Sunday.