The Colts are currently on a four-game winning streak, which is the third longest active winning streak in the NFL (the Chargers and Cowboys have both won five in a row). We all know about how the Colts' offense has been powering them and about how the offense is ranked first in the NFL in yards per game, points per game, and passing offense (and the illustrious time of possession), but during the four game winning streak the Colts' defense has been playing well also.
How well? They've allowed 306 yards per game during the streak, which would rank as the third best total in the NFL this season. They've allowed 202 pass yards per game (which would also rank third) and 104 rush yards per game (which would rank 11th - which is exactly what the Colts do rank over six games, too). They've allowed just 18% of their opponents third down attempts to be converted, which would be the best mark in the league by a lot. They've allowed just 1 of 4 fourth down tries to be converted (tied for ninth best in the league - the same the Colts rank right now). The Colts defense has allowed just 16.75 first downs per game in the last four weeks, which would rank first in the NFL this season. And during their winning streak, the Colts have notched 16 sacks, 5 interceptions, and recovered 6 fumbles. They've allowed just 18.75 points per game over the last four weeks, which would rank fourth in the league this season. In other words: the Colts' defense has been impressive.
Head coach Chuck Pagano agrees. "They're playing together, playing as a unit and executing the plan," Pagano said today. "It isn't always perfect. Those guys are all good players. I think it goes back to when you guys talk about who's going to put pressure on the quarterback and how are we going to create pressure. I think it has been a collaborative effort. Again, the scheme has been good. Guys are executing. We've got a bunch of different guys making plays.
"With success comes confidence. I think they're playing with a lot of confidence right now. Guys are taking advantage of opportunities. Sergio (Brown) has played well for two weeks. He's taken advantage of an opportunity. Ricky (Jean Francois) has taken advantage of an opportunity and playing well. We've got so much room for improvement, it's crazy. You go back and you look at the tape and they'd be the first ones to tell you, there's a lot of things that we can do better. Again, it's early in the season so that's all we're going to try and do."
Asked about his scheme, Pagano said that, "It's all about wreaking havoc, playing good run defense, taking the ball away, getting people in third-and-long, getting after the quarterback, getting sacks, putting pressure on the quarterback, forcing bad plays, getting the ball back for our offense, all those things. This is as close as we've been to what we envisioned when we first got together."
There's no doubt that the Colts defense has been playing well over the last four weeks, and Chuck Pagano recognizes that. Pagano also realizes, however, that it's still a work in progress. This isn't to say that the defense doesn't still have room to improve, but they have certainly been playing very well over the Colts' four game winning streak and they are actually a big part of the winning streak. And for that, both the players and coaches deserve a lot of credit. Hopefully, they can continue.