In my not-so-humble opinion, "yards allowed" is a completely meaningless defensive statistic. ESPN idiots and general football guru morons will always claim Team A has a great defense because they are ranked #4 in the NFL in total yards allowed. These nitwits don't look any further than this superficial statistic, because if they did they'd see that yards allowed is not the same as points allowed. If you haven't given up a ton of yards, but are giving up 25 points per game to your opponent, that means your defense sucks. Points matter. Yards don't.
Last year, the Green Bay Packers were ranked #7 overall in total defense. "Total defense" actually means "yards allowed." If you look at that stat alone, it would lead you to believe the Packers had a good defense.
If you watched any Packers games last year, you'd know that such an assumption is laughable.
While the Packers were indeed ranked #7 in yards allowed, they were also ranked #20 in points allowed. Result: crappy defense that can't stop the other team from scoring, and a 4-12 record. In 2004, the Colts were ranked #29 is yards allowed and were ranked #22 in points allowed. They needed a performance for the ages from Peyton Manning (49 TDs, 10 INTs) in order to win 12 games. They lost in the playoffs to New England due mostly to the fact that the defense couldn't get New England's offense off the field in the second half.
In 2005, the Colts defense ranked #11 in yards allowed. But, in points allowed, the Colts were ranked #2 in the league, behind only the Chicago Bears. That was an amazing leap forward, due mostly to the fact that the Colts inserted Corey Simon (DT), Gary Brackett (MLB), and Bob Sanders (SS) into the starting defensive unit. They shored up the middle of their defense, and dominated teams throughout much of the season. The Colts were undefeated in their first six games not because of their offense, but because of their defense.
In 2006, the defense expects to be even better. That's good to hear, because they should be better. One of the biggest reasons the Colts could not re-sign Edgerrin James this offseason was a conscious decision by Polian and Dungy to invest in their defense. They paid top dollar for Corey Simon, and they plan to re-sign Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, and Bob Sanders to big extensions. They re-signed Raheem Brock, Cato June, and Gary Brackett this past offseason as well. This defense is now ready to become a truly dominant force in 2006.
At least, that is what is expected of them.
In the playoff game against Pittsburgh, the defense was terrible in the first quarter. Ben Roethlisberger is not a big time QB, as evidenced by his putrid performance in the Super Bowl. His QB ratings was lower than his age in that game, yet his team still won because... well, they were playing the friggin' Seahawks. Roethlisberger looked like Superman in the first quarter of the playoff game against Indy, throwing 2 TDs passes and making his TE Heath Miller look like the second coming of Kellen Winslow (the good one, not his idiot son). After the first quarter, the Colts defense settled down. They held the Steelers' rushing attack under 3 yards a carry, and forced Big Ben into some bad throws, with one picked off for an INT.
In 2006, a consistent level of dominance is needed, especially if the Colts have trouble adjusting to the loss of Edge. They cannot allow mediocre QBs like Big Ben to come out and get a 14 point lead in the Colts' own building. Dungy says players excel more in their second year in the Tampa 2 defense. Last season, Cato June and Bob Sanders were in their second years starting, and they both made the Pro Bowl. Fans should expect big years out of Corey Simon and Gary Brackett, as both are in their second year starting in this defensive scheme. Raheem Brock could see a serious jump in his stats as he will take Larry Tripplett's place in the DT rotation.
It was taken Dungy four years to mold this group into a dominant squad similar to his teams in Minnesota and Tampa Bay. The oldest player they have on defense is CB Nick Harper, and he's 31. The Colts expect big things from newly drafted CB Tim Jennings, and they may move CB Marlin Jackson to safety to accomidate Jennings playing in nickel situations. Most importantly, the Colts have five bonafide difference makers on defense in Sanders, Freeney, Simon, June, and Mathis. Any one of those guys can make a play that can change the entire course of a game. They are proven performers.
Now, it's time for them to dominate week in and week out.