The Indianapolis Colts have played just two preseason games so far this year, but it's been enough to get fans very excited about the defense. They looked awesome against both the Jets and the Giants, and there's a real chance that this defensive unit will be the best the Colts have had since 2007. That's the hope, at least.
This weekend, the Colts will get an opportunity to really measure how good their defense really is when Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints come to Indy for a nationally televised preseason game on Saturday night. Brees has yet to play this preseason but will make his debut this weekend, and of course we all know what he's done in the league - eight straight 4,000+ passing yard seasons and then four 5,000+ yard passing seasons. Six seasons with 30+ touchdown passes, and two with 40+ scoring tosses. The future Hall of Fame quarterback is unquestionably one of the best signal callers in the league, and he'll provide a great test for the Colts defense.
"It's going to be a great barometer to see just how far we've come defensively," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said on Tuesday. "We're off to a good start defensively when you look at the numbers from the first two ball games. Certainly we weren't satisfied with how we finished the game last week, but it will be a great barometer."
"Again, these guys [the Saints], the numbers speak for themselves. Our guys are excited. Game week preparation, a little bit of game planning going on, those types of things. From an individual standpoint, position standpoint and then collectively as a unit, those guys are all excited to play an outstanding team, an outstanding offensive unit and see exactly where we're at."
While Brees provides enough of a test by himself, he's also got the league's best tight end as a target, one who's incredibly hard to cover. The 6-7, 265 pound former basketball player caught 86 passes for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns a year ago, and there's no sign that's going to change anytime soon.
"Put two guys on him as many times as you can," Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said Wednesday about how to cover Graham. "(He's) a good football player. He's talented, Brees relies on him, trusts him, and Brees puts the ball on him. He's similar to (Antonio) Gates, when it was young Gates out in San Diego because he had a good rapport with him, and the same thing with Jimmy. He's a talented guy, we've just got to make sure to try to get our hands on him and try to deviate his routes."
Colts fans are (rightfully) very hopeful and cautiously excited about this defense, especially after their performance in the first two games. "We're better probably right now today than we've been at any point," Chuck Pagano said about his defense and the talent they have, further adding to the excitement and optimism. The front seven looks very good, and then the secondary has talent if they can put it together. But it's one thing to do it against the Jets and the Giants - it's a whole different level when playing Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, and the New Orleans Saints. The Colts will get that opportunity on Saturday night, and it should provide a great test and a measuring stick for just how good this defense is.