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Gary Brackett offers insight into how the Colts defense has changed

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2010 Colts defense at training camp in Anderson, IN. Photo: <a href="http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/407230/group1_medium.JPG">assets.sbnation.com</a>
2010 Colts defense at training camp in Anderson, IN. Photo: assets.sbnation.com

I watched an interview with Gary Brackett discussing his protege (of sorts), Pat Angerer. When asked how angerer was progressing, Gary offered this answer [emphasis mine]:

He's coming along. I think he is still a young guy that is still learning the system. There is a lot getting thrown at him. We are a lot more than the three coverages we used to run for five or six years there. We are a little bit more exotic now. It is going to take a little while to learn things, but obviously you can see (he’s) athletic, got some fire in him and can explode as a tackler.

Stop for am moment and taken in that comment.

For six years, this defense only ran three coverage packages. Likely, those packages were standard Cover-2, Cover-3 (or, the Bob Sanders Beatdown Defense, as we playfully called it), and probably a mix of man-to-man. That's it. Nothing more. The team won a Super Bowl with this mentality.

This kind of thing should help you appreciate the genius of Tony Dungy. Rather than dialing up complicated blitz and coverage schemes that require 10-year veterans in order to run, Dungy stripped out all the nonsense and got back to basic, simple, fundamental football. This way, the team could use rookies and inexperienced players to work within the defense alongside experienced vets.

I mean, seriously, how can you screw up playing Cover-2 unless you really, REALLY suck?

Today, with core veterans like Brackett, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Kelvin Hayden, Antoine Bethea, and Bob Sanders locked up into long-term deals, the team has evolved into more complex blitz and coverage packages. Newly signed veteran Deshea Townsend said it all reminds him of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense:

They're doing some aggressive things similar to what we did in Pittsburgh.

The drawback, it seems, is it takes the rooks and younger guys a bit longer to understand it.