By RICK TEVERBAUGH
There is much buzz as Indianapolis Colts camp prepares to open about the new offense and what new coordinator Pep Hamilton is bringing to the team.
None of that is surprising. The old axiom is “Offense sells tickets, defense wins games.” While that is certainly a well-worn theory, there is some new to be found on the other side of the ball, and much of it may indeed lead to winning games.
The word being spoken most often among those associated with the defense as the players arrived on Saturday morning was “physical.”
“I think physical from the standpoint of shutting people down in the run game,” said defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. “When you talk about physical-ness, I think across the board defensively stopping the run. And that is our focus and our main focus going into the season. When you have the transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4, you’re trying to plug in the pieces and figure out what they’re trying to do. With last year coming into the season, we were trying to figure out what were the players actually, what can they do and what can’t they do. Then all of a sudden this year those pieces are a little bit more in place.”
Safety Antoine Bethea was on board with that idea.
“A mindset. Have a mindset and just keep that mindset all the way through the season,” he said. “We want to be a physical defense, and we just need to start that here in camp. Being physical 16 games, 60 minutes. Everybody always says it starts up front, but we got to have 11 guys out there striking. I just think when opposing offenses see that on film, when they get out there they know, have a sense that we are going to have 11 guys out there running around. Might have guys tip-toeing on the other side of the ball.”
Bethea has spent eight years as a part of the Indy defense, and he is pondering that this year’s team might be as physical as any team on which he’s played.
“I think it can,” he said. “We’ve been talking, it maybe was my second year when it was myself, Bob (Sanders), Kelvin (Hayden), Marlin (Jackson), we had some physical guys on the defense. But with LaRon (Landry), Vontae (Davis), Greg (Toler), really our whole defense, we have something special, I think.”
Cornerback Greg Toler is entering his fifth year in the NFL, but this is his first season with Indianapolis.
“This is a great opportunity for me,” said Toler. “I am so thankful and blessed that the Colts gave me this opportunity to come over here and show my talents and fill into this defense, already a great defense, already a great offense, and like I said, I am going to try to bring physicality and my style of play into the game.”
So the consensus seems to be that there is some excitement and a degree of anticipation about how the Colts defense will play this season. Maybe, as a group, it can sell some tickets, too.