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Behind Enemy Lines: Colts offense looks to keep rolling but Jeffrey Simmons awaits

Player Spotlight: Jeffrey Simmons

NFL: NOV 12 Colts at Titans

The Indianapolis Colts are coming off their most impressive win of the season. They scored over 20 points for the first time and collected a thrilling win over the Jacksonville Jaguars 34-27. The offensive line's ability to protect Matt Ryan was a key factor in that win. In 58 dropbacks, Matt Ryan was only hit six times which is a complete 180 from what we witnessed earlier in the season. The Colts will have a much more daunting task when they take on the Tennessee Titans this week in Nashville.

NFL: NOV 12 Colts at Titans

All-pro defensive tackle Jeffrey Simmons leads the Tennessee defense. For the last two years, Jeffrey Simmons has, by most, been considered a top 5 defensive tackle in the league. I spoke with a defensive coach in the AFC earlier this week about this particular matchup, and he had this to say “Simmons is a dog; he’s one of the few people in the league that gives Quenton (Nelson) fits every time they match up.” Jeffrey Simmons offers a rare blend of speed and power at the next level that would be rough for anyone to stop. At 6’4” and 305 pounds, the guy is a tank and can beat you in many ways.

Jeffrey Simmons is a bittersweet success story because the Colts were interested in him. They took a meeting with him, ultimately deciding the red flags and injury history were too much to risk drafting. For those reasons, Simmons fell in the draft, but his talent has never been questioned. Since entering this league, his talent has been on full display, and Mike Vrabel has surrounded him with enough talent to make it hard to even game plan to stop him. This Titans' defense is missing their best edge rusher in Harold Landry but still rolls out a defensive line of Simmons, Bud Dupree, and former Colt Denico Autry. When clicking on all cylinders, this trio is one of the best in the league and can give any offensive line problems.

How can the Colts limit Simmons's impact on the game? Glad you asked. The Colts can start with a similar game plan against the Jaguars, a quick passing attack. Nothing frustrates a sack-hungry defensive line more than a quarterback getting the ball out quickly.

The Colts got beat up in the last matchup when the Titans ran simple stunts and twists. Simmons was looping around to the outside, and Autry rushing inside gave the Colts fits as they struggled to communicate. Tennessee will try a similar approach, and I believe the Colts will be ready for it this time.

As for limiting Simmons in the run game, expect to see the Colts combo blocking him a lot with two guys. Ryan Kelly will be tasked with helping whichever side Simmons line up on (especially if it’s Pryor’s side). If the Colts expect any type of success Sunday, they must find a way to control the line of scrimmage. They did it against Jacksonville, and if they want to push the win streak to 3 and take over 1st place in the division, they must find a way to do it again.