INDIANAPOLIS – Only six times in 30 seasons in Indianapolis have the Colts sported a top five AFC total defense.
Only twice, and not since 1995, has the team owned a top five conference rushing defense.
Wanting to set a tone from last year’s unit that ranked 20th overall in the league and 26th against the rush (13th in the AFC), the Colts imported, among others, defensive lineman
Can Indianapolis get that same attitude honed for years in Baltimore?
“I feel like it’s already here. I’m going to play (ticked) off every game,” said Jones Wednesday. “I have the smile in this locker room and off the field but when it’s time to play, I mean business. This year, I’m trying to bring that attitude over.”
Chuck Pagano preceded Jones to Indianapolis, and it has been a quest since 2012 to have his 3-4 unit take root and form its identity.
If Jones is right, it may have arrived suddenly.
“We’re going to be a bunch of bullies on defense,” said Jones. “We’re going to knock people off the ball and get after people this year. I really truly mean that and believe it.
“There can’t be any soft guys on defense to play at a high level. I’m not saying there is that here. I’m saying (it’s) the mentality I’m going to bring and what I expect out of myself.”
The Colts have not been soft. It has been an adaptation process to the new scheme, and Pagano reiterated last year it is about getting 11 players on the unit to sing “from the same hymnal.”
“Tenacity, run-stuffing and championship pedigree,” said Mathis of what Jones brings. “He came from a Super Bowl winning team and we need him.
“The learning curve, we’ve turned a corner. We feel we can do a lot more things. Guys know each other, are comfortable, and that trust factor has gone up a lot.”
Tuesday in OTA work, the defense was spirited and had a good day. Like their counterparts on the other side of the ball, the unit is taking to the instruction and using the time away from the lights to be able to manage showtime.
“It’s an opportunity to get better, an opportunity to get chemistry with your teammates, get the language down pat,” said Jones. “It’s similar language, but a lot of things are different, too. It’s the same technique, but different names.
“I’m learning fast. I feel like I’m a fast learner. I’m learning on the run. It’s definitely important for everyone to be here.”
“The biggest thing is stopping the run. That’s first and foremost what he can do, and I’ve seen him do it.”
In Wednesday’s work, Jones was involved in a brief dustup that ended quickly with no lingering feelings.
“I don’t know who it was against, honestly,” said Jones. “It’s a whole bunch of guys competing.
“Any time you have a team of alpha males, top dogs, it’s going to be not all bark and some bite sometimes. It’s a part of it. A scuffle’s going (to happen). It’s nothing to get brought to the locker room. That’s what will make us better as a team.”
Baltimore and Indianapolis have both won numerous games over many seasons, while historically employing different identities.
Pagano arrived with Ryan Grigson and stated immediately he hoped to cast the Colts in an image more like the Ravens. Imports like Jones, Redding, D’Qwell Jackson,
Jones is getting a Raven-like feel.
“I don’t want to speak too soon, but I feel this year is going to be special,” said Jones. “We have a whole bunch of guys who are bullies, and that’s what you need on a defense – a guy who is going to step up and get in someone’s face and play hard. It makes me want to play hard for them.
“I’m having fun. It’s a great locker room, great team. These guys are awesome here and I’m a part of something great.”