INDIANAPOLIS – Chuck Pagano came to Indianapolis from a team in Baltimore that could create defensive havoc just by getting off the bus.
Pagano wants the same type of style with the Colts, and he and Ryan Grigson have gone about that aim this year through free agency by signing six unrestricted free agents on that side of the ball.
They added another component to the process in the draft’s opening round – Florida State’s Bjoern Werner.
“He’s an outside linebacker,” said Pagano. “(On) first and second down, he’s an edge-setter. We talk about those guys being able to set the edge in the run game. He certainly can do that.
“He’s a dynamic pass rusher. We knew we needed to address that. It just so happens we addressed that. He was the highest-rated player on the board at the time. We can do a lot of things with this guy.”
At times in 2012, the Colts played well defensively, keeping the club in games until the offense clicked for seven comeback wins in the fourth quarter or overtime.
Still, consistent pressure and causing turnovers were not done to the degree Pagano wanted to instill, and Werner can join other parts added to stir the drink.
“Having a guy like this to come in and add to the mix with the other guys and Robert (Mathis is important),” said Pagano. “Having a guy coming off the edge and being as productive as he was in college, particularly this year, he can do a lot of things for us.”
The conversion to the 3-4 was a work in progress for Indianapolis, though it posted an 11-5 record and returned to the playoffs.
Gone now is franchise sack leader Dwight Freeney, and Werner, who had 23.5 sacks at Florida State, can be teamed with Mathis to hopefully create another bookend sack tandem.
“I would say definitely, yeah,” said Pagano if this will be a complement to Mathis. “That’s why we went and got this guy.
“He’s got some special traits, he’s got a high motor. He’s big, he’s strong, he has great ‘get off.’ He’s been rushing the passer for a long time at Florida State.”
A term used around the team this year is “edge-setter.” Werner’s addition will further that initiative.
“(On) first and second down, he’s going to be an edge-setter and play the run game for us,” said Pagano. “On third down, there’s a multitude of things we can do with this guy. The simplest is line him up opposite of Robert (Mathis) and tell him, ‘Sick him. Go get the quarterback.’ ”
Werner dropped ball carriers for losses on 35 of 99 tackles in three seasons with the Seminoles. He finished among school leaders in a number of categories despite not starting the sport until age 15.
Werner comes to Indianapolis with low mileage and solid tread. Pagano aims to use that to create an identity such as the one he helped fester in Baltimore.
“His ceiling is enormous,” said Pagano. “(At) Florida State, every year he got better. His numbers got better every year. He’s still learning. We feel like he has a very high ceiling. Obviously, his future is very bright.”
Grigson and Pagano quickly have built a tight-knit playing culture in Indianapolis. Grigson cited Werner’s nature as making him a natural for the Colts.
“(He) fits coach’s mold as a human being and football player,” said Grigson. “He was who we wanted, and that’s what we got.”