FanPost

Joe McKnight and Brad Smith to Counter the Colts' Defensive Speed

There's a saying in baseball that nothing slows down a game like speed on the bases.  Well, i'm willing to bet that there might be a similar effect for this football game.  The Colts, for the most part, run a very vanilla 4-3 defensive front.  They're not going to line up in different looks or move guys around to and try and create confusion.  The middle backer will always be in the middle; the strong side backer will always be on the TE's side; etc.  They mostly rely on their quickness and pursuit speed to fly to the ball and gang tackle.

On paper, its easy to look at our size and power advantages and think, "shoot... lets just line up man on man and push them around."  Its only natural to draw that conclusion.  But it isnt that simple.  What makes these guys difficult to deal with is that they disengage from blocks quickly and get to the ball carrier in a hurry.  They stunt and slant and move all over the pace.  The little buggers just won't stay still.  One way to attack this problem is by using speed to counter their speed; and to use their own speed against them.

I propose that we use McKnight and Smith to threaten them at the edges and to hold them in place just long enough to get our blockers on them and/or make them pursue in the wrong direction.  We do this by scrapping the use of a fullback and inserting Mcknight in a wingback position to run counter action.  This basically will serve the same purpose as a fullback anyways because the backer will have to honor the speed and quickness of McKnight at the edge and is likely to run himself out of position.  This action also forces the D-end to maintain his outside gap integrity.  If he crashes down too hard, McKnight could easily gain the corner for a gain.

In addition to McKnight running counter action from the wingback position, we also should use Smith to motion from the wide receiver position into reverse action.  This will also force the other outside backer and D-end to maintain their outside leverage and will prevent them from crashing down on inside runs. 

Now these guys are professionals.  They're not going to go flying out of position at every ball fake and leave gaping holes to run through inside.  But it does force them to hold their positions just long enough for our blocks to get set in nice and deep and for our angles to be sound.  Which will let Keller slide down on the middle backer and will let Mangold chip and release to the next level.  It also would let us set inside traps and counters for Shonn Greene to get through scrimmage and barreling downhill cleanly.

This may also have the added benefit of forcing the Colts to bring their safeties down to help in the run game.  Which is exactly what we want.  With the safeties down in the box and reacting to run action, it sets up the playaction pass beautifully to work Keller in the seam or Braylon/Holmes solo on the outer third. 

Now it doesn't always work the way you draw it up, but if you pop Mcknight or Smith around one of the corners for a nice gain, those OLBs and DEs will make extra certain they don't let it happen again.  Which will make it much easier for Greene to get downhill on the inside.

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