INDIANAPOLIS – What won't be lost in a week with so much turmoil is the challenge that Chuck Pagano's Colts face this weekend.
It took nearly 12 minutes and 10 questions into Chuck Pagano's Wednesday press conference for the initial mention of the Colts undefeated opponent on Sunday afternoon.
That's what happens when a team with so much offensive intrigue coming into a season parts ways with its coordinator after half of the year.
So, coach, moving onto Denver, what stands out about the NFL's best defense?
"Next to the '85 Bears and the 2000 Ravens I don't know if I've seen a defense quite like this," Pagano said of the 2015 Broncos.
"They're suffocating. They're playing at a high level and they're going to challenge you."
It might sound like hyperbole listening to Pagano compare the 2015 Broncos defense to historic units.
Then you look at the numbers.
Denver leads the NFL in several significant defensive categories this season (yards per game, points allowed per game, sacks…etc.).
The number that really sticks out is the 4.1 yards per play the Broncos have allowed this year.
If that number holds up, it would rank as the second-best single season mark in the NFL since 2001.
With 12 different players combining for a league-best 29 sacks, the Broncos have transitioned quite well to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' new 3-4 scheme.
"They're playing very well, probably as good as anybody in the league right now," Andrew Luck said on Wednesday.
"There are two premier edge rushers, three, four or five really good cover corners, tough safeties, inside linebackers, the guys on the interior of the d-line are all good. It's a well-rounded defense and you have to really fight for every yard."
The Broncos have relied on a stifling defense for five one-possession victories in their seven wins this season.
Last Sunday though, we started to see a Broncos offense that has adjusted all season long to a new system under head coach Gary Kubiak.
As Peyton Manning has taken fewer and fewer snaps under center, Denver's offense comes into this Sunday off its most balanced game of the season (340 passing yards, 160 rushing yards in a 29-10 victory over the previously undefeated Green Bay Packers).
"What you've seen last is what's fresh on your mind. You talk about the Green Bay game and they were firing on all cylinders," Chuck Pagano says of the Denver offense.
Manning's 96.9 quarterback rating on Sunday night was his second highest of the season.
It's been a struggling campaign for Manning as his interceptions and completion percentage rival numbers he hasn't put up since his first years in the NFL.
Of course, just when the "old Manning narrative" starts building steam….
"Right when everybody is ready to write the guy off, he comes back and is the same old Peyton to us," Pagano says of Manning's performance on Sunday.
"It's Peyton Manning. Arguably one of the best, if not the best to ever play the game at that position."
|Through First 60 Games Of Career|
37-23 (3-3 in playoffs)
30-30 (0-2 in playoffs)