Since this morning's practice was a special teams "walk through," or something along those lines, and because the next big practice is re-scheduled for this evening, this gives us some time to catch-up on some articles we've been meaning to push out there to you on some interesting topics that have bubbled to the surface since training camp started.
One such topic is the changing of the Colts offense. Much like last year's transition on defense from long-time coordinator Ron Meeks to Larry Coyer, this year the offense is going through a similar transformation. Tom Moore, the legendary assistant coach who belongs in the Hall of Fame just as much as Dick Lebeau does, is no longer running the Colts offense. He still remains with the team, but as a coaching consultant. He's working mostly with the QBs, fine-tuning technique and being available for people who have questions.
Replacing him as offensive coordinator is Clyde Christensen. Now, anytime there is a change in coaching, there IS going to be changes made to the area they are focused on. It's just part of the process. Clyde Christensen is NOT Tom Moore, nor should he attempt to be. So, like Coyer did last year, tweaking the scheme Ron Meeks and Tony Dungy implemented on defense, Christensen is now "tweaking" the Colts offense.
After the jump, Colts center Jeff Saturday discusses those "tweaks" and how the team is reacting to them.
For Jeff Saturday, 2010 has forced him to deal with some pretty significant change. Ryan Lilja, his long-time mate at left guard, is gone. Also gone is the man who made Jeff Saturday's career: Former-offensive line coach Howard Mudd. Without Mudd, whose preference for smaller, more athletic linemen was his trademark, Jeff Saturday (under-sized at 6'2, 295) probably would not have made it in the NFL. However, just because Mudd is gone doesn't mean Jeff does not like his replacement, Pete Metzelaars.
In an interview with Colts.com, Jeff said:
Pete knows the offense as well as anybody. I think he's a football guy. He understands what needs to be done. I think he’s stepped into the role very well. He's given us clearly defined roles and responsibilities that he wants us to follow and meet. I think we’ve done a good job. It’ll be a good challenge set before us that we’ll hopefully accomplish.
Also during this interview, Jeff was asked about all the extra work he's had to do with Peyton Manning after practice sessions. He responded:
We're changing some things up a little bit. Every little detail helps.
And thus, we get to the changes, or "tweaks," with the offense. Right now, details are sketchy. The only real change we've noticed in camp is the use of Brandon James as a skat back-type player. The other changes are more subtle, and the force driving these tweaks is Clyde Christensen's desire to improve Indy's running game.
Jeff Saturday was asked if he likes this "new" offense, and his reply:
I really do. I think the one thing Clyde has made a commitment to is we're gonna be a balanced offense. We're gonna run the ball and throw it. And he's putting the hat on the o-line of getting more yards per rush and getting our rushing attack up in that top 10, top 12. I think as an offensive lineman, you like that challenge. You like that hat placed on you. Hopefully, we’ll make that goal.
One "knock" on Tom Moore last year (and I put the word "knock" in quotes because it isn't much of one) was that he relied too much on the pass. I personally disagree. If the offensive line blocked better, the run would have been utilized more. since they didn't, the Colts passed more than they ran. Also, running the ball is secondary to throwing it. Folks like mgrex03 and I have been screaming this for years.
Running the ball is over-rated.
Now, that doesn't mean running the ball is "meaningless," or anything like that. However, far to many ignorant football pundits place way to much emphasis on running the ball. With Jeff Saturday, I think his mind is in the right place. A top 5 rushing attack is nice, but not necessary. A top 5 passing attack IS VERY necessary, and one way to help keep that top 5 passing attack humming right along is to get your rushing attack in the top 10 or top 12.
It's for this reason we see 6'3, 335 pound Jacques McClendon moved to center and 6'7, 305 pound Tony Ugoh moved to guard. The Colts want to be more effective running the ball, forcing teams out of their base anti-Colts defensive shells. The one-time staple of this offense, the play action pass off the stretch run, is nearly extinct. Perhaps Christensen wants to bring that back, or, at least, improve on Indy's putrid 3.5 yards a rush.