Defensive Tackle Dan Muir Wants the Colts to be Known as Dominant Run Defense
INDIANAPOLIS – Dan Muir said the goal is simple.
Although the goal was sort of reached last year, in a way it wasn't, and Muir – a defensive tackle for the Colts – said the defense is good enough to reach it next season.
Muir, who will enter his third season with the Colts next season – his second as a major contributor on the defensive front – said the goal is to become a dominant defense against the run, an area in which Indianapolis made significant strides last season.
It was just not everyone knew about the strides, and Muir said that's the goal next season:
For everyone to know.
"Me and (fellow starting defensive tackle) Antonio Johnson always talk, and we set a goal together," Muir recently told The Heavyweights radio show, which is archived weekly on Colts.com.
"Our goal is to have nobody run the football on us. Point-blank. Period."
Muir (6-feet-2, 312 pounds), who originally signed in the NFL with Green Bay as a collegiate free agent from Kent State, spent one year with the Packers before joining the Colts off waivers shortly before the 2008 regular season.
Since then, he has become a crucial member of the Colts' defense.
He spent the 2008 season working to learn the defensive scheme, and to change his style to better fit in with the line, and when the team released Ed Johnson in October of last season, Muir emerged as the starter alongside Antonio Johnson.
Muir started 10 of the last 11 regular-season games, and with Antonio Johnson starting 15 overall, they became the core of a run defense that improved from the season before.
The Colts in 2008 allowed 122.9 a game rushing, 24th in the NFL.
In 2009, they allowed 126.5 yards per game. That also was 24th in the NFL, but before the final two regular-season games – games in which the Colts removed many of their front-line players with their post-season seeding already clinched – they allowed 112.4 yards per game, which would have ranked 16th in the NFL.
The Colts also ranked second in the NFL in post-season defense against the run, allowing 74.7 yards per game in three games.
That included an AFC Championship Game in which they limited the New York Jets to 86 yards. The Jets were the NFL's No. 1 rushing offense in the regular season.
"Last year, we made a huge improvement against the run, but nobody in the league really noticed it," Muir said. "Everybody in the league kept talking, 'Oh, you can run all over the Colts.' If you look at last year, it didn't happen.
"This year, we want to make a statement, 'You're not going to run the football on us. I don't care what you say.' That's really the goal."
Muir, after playing just six games for the Colts in 2008 partly because of injuries, not only started 10 regular-season games last year, he played in all 19 of the team's games, one of three defensive linemen to do so.
He finished the season seventh on the team in tackles, first among defensive linemen, with 66 and also had a half a sack and six quarterback pressures.
"I think it was my best year," Muir said. "It definitely was. I attribute it first off to my faith, getting my life right. That was the major part, then just working hard – just working extremely hard in the off-season. Me, Antonio Johnson and Eric Foster, we put in a lot of work last off-season – the same thing we're doing now – to get prepared for the season. That really helped out."
Muir said he also has learned to appreciate – and flourish in – the Colts' rotation-heavy approach along the defensive line.
"I love our rotation," Muir said. "JT (defensive line coach John Teerlinck), at first, he had our rotation and he would sub us. It got to the point where we knew how to sub ourselves. It does wonders for you, because it keeps you fresh. You can't go out there and play more than four or five plays 100 percent – I don't care what type of shape you're in. You have to have rest.
"The rotation we have is amazing, because you're always fresh, and you're always going and able to make plays."
Muir, who credits Teerlinck with much of his improvement – "There's no other D-line coach in the league like him," Muir said – said with his background as a small college player and an undrafted free agent, he values his opunity.
"It's just a blessing," he said. "Sometimes, you do pinch yourself and you wake up and you're like, 'I'm actually living my dream, to play professional football.' It's awesome."
But Muir, who like the Colts' veterans and recently-acquired rookies are beginning organized team activities this week at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, said his primary focus this off-season isn't the past. Rather, it's about looking to the future, a future in which he said he wants to continue improve.
Muir said that partly means improving as a pass rusher.
"Every play is rush the passer and react to the run – get upfield and cause havoc," Muir said. "If you don't know your assignment, if you don't know what you're doing, just hit your gap: hit it as hard as you can, just cause ruckus in the backfield. If you do that, he (Teerlinck) is fine."
Muir said one area he also wants to continue improving is leadership on and off the field. But he said that's not possible without continuing to improve – and continuing to perform – on it.
"If I want to show somebody, and I want to help a young guy, I want to show him on the field," Muir said. "There's nothing worse than somebody talking to you and telling you what to do, then not performing. I want to be able to show a guy, 'Why'd you do that?' Then, be able to do it.'