The story is a familiar one: the Indianapolis Colts travel to New England to face the Patriots, only to get destroyed by the Patriots' run game. It has happened in each of the last two postseasons, and twice more in the regular season in the last three years (though one of those games was in Indy). The Colts need to improve defensively, and that's why owner Jim Irsay said after the most recent playoff loss to New England that they need to "be a tougher team."
Head coach Chuck Pagano, a defensive-minded coach hired from Baltimore in 2012, is entering a contract year as questions about his defense still swirl. Entering 2015, Pagano and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky are tasked with improving the unit. And that's exactly what Manusky thinks the Colts have done.
"Well I think right now the personnel that we have is, from a foundation of overall stuff, I think is the best that we've had here since we've been here," Manusky told ESPN's Mike Wells.
The defensive coordinator is especially excited about the addition of a pass rush, as the Colts signed Trent Cole, will have Robert Mathis returning, and have Jonathan Newsome entering his second season. "If you're going to have four guys that can really rush the passer," Manusky said, "and then all of a sudden you're playing a little two-man underneath, it's a better situation for you because you are protected a little bit more."
Without a doubt, Manusky acknowledged that the Colts need to improve, and he said the thing they've been focusing on is communication. And hopefully that will help lead to an improved unit in 2015 - one that could be the best since Pagano and Manusky have been in Indy. That won't mean much if they're not able to stop the Patriots and if some of the same issues are still present, but the coaching staff is hopeful that this year's unit will be the best yet in the current era. If not, then the questions might become significantly louder about how much longer the era should continue.