"WE HAVE A TOUGH TASK"
Washington quarterback Donovan McNabb presents some unique challenges for the Colts defense this week as the club travels to FedExField to take on the Redskins Sunday evening at 8:20 p.m.
Currently, McNabb, a 12th-year veteran, is third in the NFC and sixth in the NFL in passing yards with 1,315, while he is fourth among NFL quarterbacks in rushing yardage, carrying for a 7.6-yard average. He has rushed for 3,340 yards and 28 touchdowns in his career.
"He is highly experienced, obviously," Caldwell said. "He is a guy that has been through a lot, just in terms of his years of service. He has a great understanding of himself as well as their scheme. He has a very strong arm. He is a guy that can get the ball down the field.
"He can buy time with his feet and extend plays, which really is dangerous because oftentimes he will force you to think about coming out of your coverage, but the fact of the matter is he is still looking to throw the ball downfield."
The Colts' defensive front knows it will have its hands full trying to stop McNabb, and players said Wednesday they are aware of the problems he presents.
"He brings everything," defensive tackle Dan Muir said of McNabb. "He can beat you with his legs, his arm, everything. We have a tough task at hand. He is a great QB and has been a great QB for a long time. He is great with his feet, and you have to make sure you tackle him."
Defensive end Dwight Freeney has a special relationship with McNabb. Freeney said McNabb affected his decision to attend Syracuse University, albeit they were four years apart, and the pair has connected with one another ever since.
"He was a senior and I was a freshman, a little baby," Freeney said. "He was one of the reasons I went to the school. He was a great player. I said, 'Alright, you want to be around greatness.' He definitely did his thing."
Indianapolis is no stranger to defending quarterbacks that run the ball well. The Colts face Titans quarterback Vince Young and the Jaguars' David Garrard twice a year.
"He is very similar (to those guys)," Brackett said. "He can obviously extend plays."
And linebacker Gary Brackett, like Caldwell, mentioned McNabb's ability to both throw and run is what makes him so tough to defend.
"(He) definitely has the ability to throw 65-70 yards in the air, so we will have to defend the deep ball and make sure we are protecting ourselves on the back end. On third-and-short he has the ability to run for first downs, and you have to be conscious of what is going on."
Colts Pro Bowl safety and leading tackler Antoine Bethea said dual-threat quarterbacks present many problems, particularly for the secondary.
"It is pretty much the same thing," Bethea said. "Especially on third down, like third-and-five, you are in coverage and they can take off and run and get the first down.
"They can run and get out of the pocket and scramble. It is just something our defense has to handle."
"They are probably a lot like we saw last week, I think; a team that has talent, a superior pass rush and obviously they have a pretty veteran team over there. London Fletcher has been around a while and certainly does a great job of directing traffic for them. The have some good players on their perimeter. (LaRon) Landry is a heck of a player. (DeAngelo) Hall is a very, very talented cover guy. They find a way to keep you in front of them and bottled up. They do not make a whole lot of mistakes. It will be imperative that we finish drives off, and we know that won't be easy." –Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell on what he sees from watching the Washington defense on film.
"That's what the coaches are trying to call it. It is what it is, I guess. It is tough sledding with that, but either way you have to have no excuses and prepare and try to get open no matter who is on you. You just have to have the mindset that you are going to get open and keep making plays." -Tight End Dallas Clark on if he sees it as a sign of respect that defenses are covering him with a cornerback and not a linebacker.
"That's a good question. Number one, obviously, is they are both so highly respected because of what they have accomplished both on and off the football field. Talking about John, throughout his career being in so many Super Bowls and finally winning a couple at the end, but being in them early and getting blown out and overcoming that adversity to win a couple I think set the tone for his career at the end. To me, for Peyton, it has been his consistency throughout his career. To me, I don't believe I have been around a guy that has studied the game or knows the game as well as Peyton. You can see that he understands defenses as well as anybody that's probably been in the game. I don't think I have seen a quarterback with more control over an offense as Peyton throughout his career. If you are going to beat him, you are almost going to have to play a perfect game." –Washington Coach Mike Shanahan on Wednesday's conference call comparing and contrasting Peyton Manning and John Elway.
"I definitely think that in the division games they are always going to be tight and give you a run for your money because we do know each other so well. You will have to take advantage of all of the possessions you can get and once the defense is on the field, they are going to have to stop them as much as possible because every possession counts. You need to eliminate as many mistakes as possible in order to get on top because they are always close games." –Wide Receiver Austin Collie on why the two AFC South division games are so tough.