Dominant Colts defense gets Jaguars next
Cory Redding finally got a chance Wednesday to start talking about the Colts defense on his terms.
Aggressive. Physical. Dominant.
Over the past decade or two, those three words have largely been missing from Indianapolis' defensive lexicon. After last weekend's impressive breakout performance at San Francisco, they become trendy descriptions.
Now the Colts (2-1) just have to prove they can keep playing this way, week after week.
''That's what we always try to do,'' Redding said. ''It ain't playing bad one week and good the next or good one week and bad the next. You want to play good football every week.''
Their next test comes Sunday at Jacksonville (0-3), against one of the league's poorest offenses.
The Jaguars rank last in the league in total yards (230.3), touchdown passes (one) and yards per carry (2.3). They have been outscored 92-28 despite playing Kansas City and Oakland, teams that earned the No. 1 and No. 3 picks in the draft. Jacksonville, by the way, picked No. 2 in April.
Yet, somehow, the Jags have become a major obstacle for Indianapolis.
They have won four of the past six games in this series, and were the only AFC South team to sweep the Colts in their dismal 2-14 season in 2011.
The Jaguars handed Indy its only home loss last season - courtesy of a blown coverage that allowed Blaine Gabbert to find Cecil Shorts for an 80-yard TD pass with 45 seconds left.
Running back Maurice Jones-Drew has been the biggest nuisance, producing some of the best career games against the Colts, a stinging reminder that he wasn't happy Indy took Joseph Addai ahead of him in the 2006 draft. Indianapolis (2-1) expects nothing less from Jones-Drew this week.
''He's built like a fire hydrant, runs like a shorebird. Tree trunks for legs. Never stops churning. Powerful, powerful guy,'' Colts coach Chuck Pagano said Wednesday. ''We know what type of runs he excels at, our guys are fully aware of what he can do and we've got to do a great job and be disciplined on defense.''
The Colts have been preaching some version of those lines for years.
But until this offseason, it didn't always look as if they meant it.
Armed with lots of salary cap room, general manager Ryan Grigson spent the late winter beefing up the defense and maxing out the contracts.
So far, the results have been mixed. After three weeks, Indy is ranked 26th against the run and is allowing 4.7 yards per carry.
If this past Sunday's game against the defending NFC champs was any indication, things could be changing.
Often dubbed as the defense built to play with a lead because of their smallish defenders and speedy pass rushers, the Colts are starting to look more like a defense than might be able to hold up over the long haul.
San Francisco gained just 254 yards Sunday, a number that included a 91-yard TD drive in the first quarter and a 67-yard drive on their final possession of the game.
They locked up the 49ers receivers, shut down the running game after one bad drive, put pressure on Colin Kaepernick, forced turnovers, and, yes, were more physical than the 49ers.
The public was surprised. The Colts were not.
''We knew we had talent, we were just trying to figure out how all that talent was going to come together,'' defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois said. ''Once it started coming together, it was like a bowling ball with the offense, the defense, even the coaches. That (last week's game) is what it's supposed to be.''
But what Colts want to see now is that this is the norm, not the aberration.
Pagano spent Wednesday explaining Sunday's performance was just the beginning, and the Colts were far from perfect.
Redding, who played for Pagano in Baltimore and Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley when both were in Seattle, has been around the league long enough to know better, too.
So he's calling on his teammates to prove they can do it not once but in back-to-back weeks and then back-to-back-to back weeks.
''We're preparing this week just like we did last week and any other week that we've been preparing for any team,'' Redding said.
''We've got to go out there and execute all our plays in practice, fly around, try to make minor mistakes in practice and if you make it, clean it up before Sunday.''
NOTES: Four Colts players did not practice Wednesday - safeties Antoine Bethea (toe) and LaRon Landry (ankle), running back Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) and Jean Francois (groin). Linebacker Pat Angerer (knee) and center Samson Satele (elbow), who both sat out against the 49ers were limited participants. All are considered day to day. ... The Colts brought receiver Da'Rick Rogers and running back Kerwynn Williams to the practice squad Wednesday and released receiver Danny Coale and Miguel Maysonet.
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