Colts Defense Starting To Have The Look Chuck Pagano Wants

Intro: Quietly, the Colts defense is starting to compete with the offense in moving up the NFL rankings. How much has the defense improved so far in 2014?

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INDIANAPOLIS – You can't fault Chuck Pagano for just naturally gravitating towards the defensive side of the ball.

That's where he made his NFL in-roads before being named the Colts head coach in 2012.

So as Pagano did some self-evaluating of that unit this weekend, the head coach is pleased with what he's got.

"It's all about wreaking havoc," Pagano says before rattling off what he wants to envision in his defense. "Taking the ball away, getting people in third and long, getting after the quarterback, getting sacks, putting pressure on the quarterback, forcing bad plays, getting the ball back for our offense, all those things.

"They're playing together, playing as a unit and executing the plan."

Highlights from the Colts win over the Texans Thursday night!

Making the transition from a far end 4-3, to a traditional 3-4 scheme has taken some time for the Colts.

The bodies and depth now have more of a 3-4 makeup and the results back up what Pagano is beginning to see.

-Stopping The Run: The Colts are 11th in rush defense in 2014 after being ranked 26th and 29th the last two seasons.

-Forcing Turnovers: The Colts 12 takeaways is tied for the 4th most in 2014 and on Thursday, it was two key turnovers late in the fourth quarter that allowed the visitors to hold on to their one-possession lead.

-Getting Off The Field: A major reason why the Colts are leading the league in time of possession comes with the defense being ranked first in third-down conversions allowed. The Colts are averaging less than a 30 percent conversion rate on third down and have allowed just 3-of-28 conversions over the last three weeks.

-Pressure: Thanks to 10 different Colts recording sacks in 2014, the pass rush has been productive without Robert Mathis. The Colts have 16 sacks in the last four weeks and rank fourth in the league with 17 total sacks this season.

Everyone has taken notice of what the Colts offense has done so far in 2014.

By most people's expectations, the defense wasn't supposed to find itself near the top of so many league categories.

Not with Mathis out for the year.

Not with key contributors at every level of the defense missing significant time (Arthur Jones, Jerrell Freeman and LaRon Landry).

But here's the D finishing off critical wins the past eight days and helping the Colts ride a four-game winning streak with the midway point of the season approaching.

Defense in Indianapolis has always been critiqued at every level but after six games of 2014, Pagano likes what he sees.

"This is as close as we've been to what we envisioned since we first got together," the former defensive coordinator says.

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