Colts Prepare For "Basketball On Grass"

Intro: The major storyline heading into Monday night is how the Colts will handle the unique tempo of the Eagles offense. What are the Colts doing to prepare for such a rapid attack?

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INDIANAPOLIS – Fast.

Rapid.

Blistering.

Use whatever adjective you want to in describing the Eagles offense, because by the time you're finished reading this sentence there's a good chance they've run one play and are on to the next.

For many around the NFL, the Colts no-huddle attack used in the 2000s re-defined the up-tempo styles seen today around football.

The Eagles, and more specifically Chip Kelly, have taken it to another level.

"The tempo is going to be like 10 times than what we saw last week," Chuck Pagano said on Thursday.

"These guys will give you absolutely no time to (sub). Most of the time, they just stick with the personnel that they have on the field, and it's on you before you know what's going on."

Last year, the Eagles led the NFL in running 66 plays per game and they made sure to chew up plenty of yardage while moving at warp speed.

Their 99 plays of at least 20 yards was tops in the NFL and they added another six such gains in their 34-17 season opening win last week.

The Colts knew the task of defending such an innovative offense was coming in 2014 and Chuck Pagano has taken the necessary steps, even if they are a bit outside of the box, to prepare for this game.

"We brainstormed and we talked about this the entire offseason in preparation for this game," Pagano says. "Our guys were creative and come up with some different ways to try and replicate and simulate the tempo.

"I think they snapped the ball against Jacksonville last week…an average of between 25 and 26 seconds left on the play clock. This is going to be about getting lined up, knowing what to do, doing your job, playing great assignment football and being on the same page."

New Colts safety Colt Anderson spent last season watching Kelly's offense operate right before his eyes in Philadelphia.

With the Eagles, Anderson quickly got used to unique practice schedules to prepare for Sunday's.

"It's two-minute offense and defense all practice," Anderson says. "They are getting 16 plays in 5 minutes, where as other teams might take a little longer."

Today in the NFL we see 40-second play clocks milked to the waning moments trying to re-position one more skill player or identify that defender who doesn't want to show his hand.

The Eagles aren't worried about the pre-snap gimmicks.

Sure, they will offer some misdirection to distract the defense but they won't waiver much from their intense pace.

In Week One, the Eagles fell behind 17-0 at halftime and faced an early fourth-and-one to start the third quarter.

Get stuffed here and the Jaguars have another short field to put a serious dent in any potential comeback.

Instead, Eagles all-purpose back Darren Sproles ripped off a 49-yard touchdown, and 34 second-half points later, the Eagles left Week One with a three-score victory.

This week the Colts are trying to combat Kelly's system with a sound defense and communication is atop the defensive priority list.

Practice squad cornerback Sheldon Price played against Kelly's Oregon teams twice in college (at UCLA) and vividly remembers how much practice changed when the Ducks fell on the schedule.

"We used to go two huddles so as soon as the play ran and we turned around and ran back to the line of scrimmage, they were already up to the line ready to run the next play," Price recalls.

"You can do what you want to try and get to that tempo but nobody does it like them."

Amidst all the chaos that will surround the 15 seconds following the whistle blowing a play dead and the Eagles lining up for another on Monday night, the Colts defense will try to be as relaxed as possible.

Personnel substitutions might be minimal but as long as all 11 defenders are singing from the same hymnal, the Colts can put together the same type of defensive effort that stymied Denver in the second half last week.

"Just do your job," Anderson says of the "simple" yet vital message for Monday night.

"Every week is important to do your job but as far as Philly goes they run that up-tempo style and they want to get one guy out of position, so it's very imperative that everybody just approaches the game one play at a time and does their 1/11th."

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