The Colts will continue running the same defensive system with head coach Chuck Pagano and defensive coordinator Ted Monachino, but they are trying to make it a bit easier for players to grasp.
In his press conference last week, Ted Monachino began by discussing the changes the coaching staff has made in trying to simplify their system.
“The first couple of months of the offseason obviously there’s a lot to do with what we do as a staff,” Monachino said. “We’ve managed to take a lot of the gray out of the system and clean up a few things and minimize some areas that maybe a year ago we were a little bit too aggressive with. But we were able to make a bunch of cleanups and nice changes to the system which is great. And then really pleased with the attendance so far in all phases of our offseason program with our guys. They’ve been here. They’ve been working to get better, and we’re thrilled with where they are right now, especially physically and mentally. They’re in great shape. So we spent a lot of time working structure and concepts and spent a lot of time putting our teaching plan together and how we were going to do that. So there are things we can do that we can still have a lot of variety, but the structure and concept won’t change. It’s all about eliminating the gray and making sure that it’s clean for our players to play full speed.”
Whether or not the system was too complex previously is something that probably only the players can truly say, but there is something to be said for making the system at least simple enough so that players don’t have to be thinking about what they’re supposed to do all the time. Instead, it should be natural, and players should be able to grasp what they’re doing so that they can play at full speed and without thinking. It seems that’s the desired effect of these system simplifications the Colts have done, and one of the big motivations for it was the realization that this team was going to get much younger.
“As we got into mid to late January, we started to have a feel for where our roster was going,” Monachino said. “So that’s why we did what we did to try and simplify and try to eliminate the things that were causing us some mentals during the course of each game. So, for those young guys to step in and be able to compete and play well for us, we fully expect that to happen. They’ve all got high FBI. Their football intelligence is good. And that’s, in the draft process as you’re evaluating them, that’s what you’re looking at. So we think that we can fit them all in there, and they will. They’ll give us good downs from Grover [Stewart] all the way to Malik [Hooker] and beyond. There are guys that are going to fit in and play well. We’ve just got to do everything we can to manage the calls that they can play.”
So what the Colts are attempting to do is make their defensive system simple enough that it’s not a hinderance to the newcomers and rookies. The Colts will already be facing enough of a learning curve as players adapt to the team, to each other, and to the system - they don’t need a system that makes things more complex than it should be. Again, whether or not it was last year is not for us to say, but the Colts coaches seem to think that it’s better for it to be simplified moving forward.
I think we’ll see a lot of this kind of thinking from the Colts this year: remove as many barriers as possible to these newcomers and rookies fitting in and playing well. It will be tough enough for the Colts to field a good defense with all of these guys just as it is, so I think we’ll see them try to do whatever they can to eliminate obstacles. That’s smart, and hopefully it pays off on the field.