Seriously, I was never one to completely blame Ron Meeks for the defense's shortcomings. Oh sure, I was pissed at him, but that was more frustration than anything else. The Tampa 2 defense Meeks runs is a tried and true system, and if the Colts had any problems playing it the culprit was likely the personnel department (aka Polian) and not coaches like Meeks. It was no secret that when players like Corey Simon and Gilbert Gardner were replaced by Anthony McFarland and Rob Morris, the defense started to get better. In addition, the health and maturation of Bob Sanders and Robert Mathis greatly aided the defense. So, to Polian's credit, he recognized the problem and fixed it. And since there was no coaching turnover, the problem was not with the coaches.
So, I imagine coaches like Meeks, LBer coach Mike Murphy, and secondary coach Alvin Williams feel justified in the recent play of the defense. The group is #1 in scoring defense, surrendering 16 ppg (14ppg if you take away all of Russ Purnell's special teams TDs surrendered), #2 in takeaways, #3 in yards, and #2 against the pass. I get the strong impression that the #15 ranking against the run is due in large part to two games: Denver and Jacksonville at home. Denver ran for 223 yards and Jacksonville 168 yards. Remember, Denver came out in a 3 TE offense, ran for a ton of yards in the first half, got shut down in the second half, and eventually got blown out. The second Jags game was interesting in that the colts had a horrible time stopping Fred Taylor, but still won the game impressively.
If you take out those two games, the Colts then allowed 1,320 yards in 14 games, which is 94 yards a game. That would rank them #5 in the league. So, two odd, freakish games dropped the Colts from #5 to #15 in rushing defense. For much of the season, we've seen this club hold players like Tomlinson to 76 yards.
Hey, look at me! I'm starting to sound like a stats guy!
Add to this the great pass defense, the numerous takeaways, and the speed on this defense, and this group will be a force in the playoffs. Much will get written about Marvin's return, if and when it comes, but the key to Indy's post-season is its defense. This group has carried them all season. Everyone expects players like Robert Mathis, Raheem Brock, and Antoine Bethea back and healthy for the playoffs. These three players are more vital to the Indy's success than Marvin, and if they are indeed healthy there is no team in this league that will stop Indy.