For the first time in what seems a thousand years, the Colts run defense is ranked #12 overall. That number may change, with the Sunday idle Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans playing this evening on Monday Night Football. Both teams are ranked 13th and 14th, respectively, in terms of yards per game. But the Texans are surrendering 4.7 yards per carry on the ground and are facing (arguably) the best back in football in Chris Johnson. So, yeah, I think Indy will likely stay at #12, but we'll see.
Stopping the run is not paramount in the modern NFL, despite what talking heads and even some players say. Stopping the pass is the key element for any dominant (or even semi-competent) defense. If teams can throw at will and score, there is no need to run. However, for the Colts, their new defensive coordinator Larry Coyer made it a point of emphasis to improving the run defense this off-season. And for that reason alone, it is gratifying to see this team really improve dramatically at stopping the run.
Last season, the Colts surrendered 122 rushing yards a game and a 4.2 per rush average. Teams scored 18 rushing TDs on Indy and would utilize game plans designed to run the ball, shorten the game, and limit Peyton Manning's offensive possessions. This year, teams are not using this game plan anymore because it isn't working. The Colts are surrednering 106 rushing yards a game with a 4.1 per rush average. Also, they have allowed only 7 rushing TDs in 11 weeks of play.
Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens was really a coming out party, so to speak, for the Colts run D. Going into the game, Baltimore's running game was one of the best in the NFL, average 115 yards, 4.3 yards a carry, and scoring an impressive 12 TDs. Against the Colts, the Ravens averaged 3.2 a carry, were held under 100 rushing yards, and did not score a single TD. Indeed, one of the biggest plays of the game was Indy's third down stuff on the goal line in the fourth quarter.
Impressive improvement, and all without the services of Bob Sanders and Ed Johnson. We have sung Larry Coyer's prasies here since Week One. It's about time some other media take notice of the outstanding job he is doing.