INDIANAPOLIS --- NFL.com senior analyst and former Cowboys VP of Player Personnel Gil Brandt pointed out an interesting statistic Friday on Twitter:
"Mentioned earlier this week there are 100 fewer sacks this season than in 2013. I think hands-to-face penalty is reason."
However, the Colts have matched their sack total through six games from last season with 17 even with losing last year's NFL sack leader in Robert Mathis. To what do the Colts attribute this to?
"They probably got tired of everybody in this room saying we had nobody that could rush the passer as soon as Robert got hurt," said head coach Chuck Pagano Wednesday during his press conference. "Maybe they're playing with a little chip on their shoulder, and I thank you guys."
Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and his staff were also given credit as well by Pagano and players.
"I give credit to the scheme, our defensive scheme first and foremost," said Colts rookie outside linebacker Jonathan Newsome Wednesday, after recording his first career sack at Houston on Thursday Night Football. "There's a lot of things that happen with a sack. You have to have good coverage. There has to be some sort of disruption with the offense. Their timing has to be off. It's a whole team effort as to why we're getting a lot of sacks."
Four different Colts have multiple sacks. Linebackers Erik Walden, D'Qwell Jackson, and Erik Walden each have three to lead the team. Defensive end Cory Redding has two sacks.
"Whether it's four, three, or five (players rushing the passer), we're dialing it up, getting some pressure on the quarterback," said Redding Wednesday. "It's all coming together. I don't know why around the league is so low, but I know what we're doing is right."
Brandt in his tweet attributed the decrease in sacks to a new emphasis by officials in calling illegal hands to the face this season. Colts players say that has been something coaches have communicated to them, but attribute their success more to execution of good technique and gameplanning.
"They tell us always to use our hands," said Newsome. "You just can't put your hands in a guy's face. Simple rule, you know? We just focus on our keys, pre-snap keys, the ball or the back foot."
Whatever the reason is, the Colts pass rush has picked up right where it left off last season, and that is a huge accomplishment considering the circumstances both with Robert Mathis and pass rushing in general around the NFL.