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Colts defensive coordinator Ted Monachino emphasizing aggressive, pressure-filled defense

Ted Monachino addresses the media at Colts training camp
Photo taken by Josh Wilson (SB Nation)

The Colts made a change in defensive coordinators this offseason, and while acknowledging that we still haven’t seen him coach a game yet, Ted Monachino is an impressive guy. He’s a good interview and has done a good job with the media, but there’s one theme that has been incredibly prevalent as we’ve continued to hear him talk: being aggressive.

Monachino has been clear that he wants a defense built on pass rush, pressure, and aggressive play and playcalls, and that’s something he’s echoed since he arrived. Don’t believe me? Consider (all emphasis is mine):

Here’s what he told on January 11, shortly after he was hired:

“You expect [the defense] to be sound and simple in a way that our guys can play full speed all the time. You expect it to be aggressive in everything that we do, yet smart in everything that we do in the backend. We are never going to coach caution into a great player. We are always going to coach full speed.”

On May 10, he once again talked about a pressure-driven defense:

“Well, it does vary. We love pressure, but pressure can come from a variety of different ways, right? We can come from three-man pressure – if we game plan it right and we scheme it up right, we can rush three and still affect quarterbacks. We can rush four and affect quarterbacks by forcing them to hold the football and getting a guy home. We can bring additional rushers, so we can bring additional rushers and drop guys that are typical rushers. But, yes, I’m a pressure guy. I think the best pass defense is a good pass rush, and that’s where we’re going to begin in the system. But there’s enough variety that you’re really not going to know who it is and from where they’re coming.”

He also added this on May 10:

“We’re a 3-4 system primarily. We will play just as many 4-3 principles as 3-4 principles, as you’ve seen over the last four years here with Greg (Manusky), and you’ll see a variety of different pressures. You’ll see them from both edges, you’ll see them from all 11 players, you’ll see pressures that drop guys and pressures that keep guys in the rush. I think that the multiplicity of the system is what excites Coach (Pagano) and excites me. I think those are the things you’ll see. But you’ll also, at the end of the day, see two guys that are firmly on the same page about how the defense should be done.”

Then on June 7, he said:

“I think what you’ll see is, and this is a testament to our veteran players, is the mindset of our guys. That is the way that we’ll attack. We’ll attack in ways that everybody else does, but what we’re hopeful of is that our veteran players and our young, exciting, explosive players can have some impact on some games. We have, from an attacking standpoint, there are a lot of ways that we can do that. We can attack people in coverage. We can attack people in three, four, five and six-man rush. But I would expect when the season begins that you’ll see a team that plays really hard and plays well together, is fast and physical. If that’s what attacking means that’s what I think you’ll see. That’s what I believe in.”

When the Colts arrived at training camp, Monachino talked about D’Joun Smith and emphasized how he wants him to be aggressive:

“I think he’s a very confident kid. Sometimes I think that he gets a little bit too confident. But I keep telling him that we’re going to reward some risk taking. If he plays well early in the down and takes a risk to make a play on a ball we’re for that. But I also understand that he’s still in a growing process. He’s a guy that hasn’t had a lot of reps and we need to get him more and more as we go and the more he gets the more comfortable he’ll become and the slower the game will happen for him.”

Then today, Monachino was asked what he’s looking for from his defense on Sunday:

“We’re looking to play as sound as we can. We want to be aggressive in some calls, but we want to play really sound, simple defense and see which guys can run and tackle and talk and think and do all the things that we need to do adjustment-wise. We have some things in the system that we’ll use, and then we have some others that we may not get to.”

He added:

“I need to see all of them understand that aggressive calls will be made and when there are aggressive calls made, they have to be aggressive. We can’t play technique in the middle of an aggressive call. I need to see that we can have disciplined eyes in leverage and coverage. I need to see that our guys that are responsible to set the edge of the run game can set the edge of the run game. They do it – they have to do it every down. That’s what you’re looking for is consistent execution of the call and consistent execution of the system.”

Later, he said:

“Well I think that fits our DNA, first of all. Defensive players want to be aggressive. I think by nature those are the calls that they like the most. I’ve had a great experience in this business all the way from being a high school coach to 10 years in college football and now 11 years in the National Football League with a bunch of great coaches that have been influential with me. You get those things that you like out of each system and you try to install them and you try to embrace those ideas and build on them. That’s how I’ve built my philosophy of being aggressive. We have calls that aren’t necessarily – they don’t look aggressive but there are aggressive components in all of them. I think we all would like to be viewed that way, that, ‘Hey this guy is an aggressive go-getter, play caller.’

As you can see quite clearly, Ted Monachino is built on being aggressive and built on pressuring the quarterback. He’s saying the right things, but ultimately he’ll be judged by the results on the field. Without having seen his defense play a game yet, however, we have an idea of what he’s looking to do: be aggressive and emphasize pressure.