INDIANAPOLIS – Each week, Colts.com will share a few extra tidbits learned from offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and defensive coordinator Ted Monachino.
What did the coordinators have to say in Week Nine?
Chud on the play of the offensive line as of late:
"That has sort of been our middle name. We have had a lot of changes and a lot of revolving doors up front. We need to be flexible. Fortunately, we have some guys that can play in multiple positions so that gives us some of that flexibility that you have to have in these type of situations. We will just see again how injuries and where we are at with that as we get closer to the end of the week and I will know by then hopefully, like you will."
Bowen Analysis: On Sunday, it's looking like the Colts will be starting a sixth different offensive line in their nine games this season. One aspect of the line that Chud want to use a little more on Sunday is some more run blocking for Frank Gore. In last week's loss, Gore had just nine carries, four fewer than his previous low in 2016.
Chud on comparing Andrew Luck with Aaron Rodgers:
"There's no doubt when you're in that upper echelon of quarterbacks in this league, those are some of the characteristics you're going to see and you see them in both of those guys. It's just incredible, their ability to make plays, their ability to move around, extend plays, the leadership that they show, the poise in the critical situations, being able to be, as you said, unflappable so they're both fun to watch. Obviously, you don't like watching Aaron when you're playing against him, but they're both fun to watch and really, there's a great appreciation for what they do and how good they are at what they do."
Bowen Analysis: The comments from Chud are so similar to what we heard Mike McCarthy talk about on Wednesday. It's a stat that can never be quantified, but Luck and Rodgers' ability to keep plays alive is remarkable. They might look like 'Sandlot' type plays, but don't tell that to a demoralizing defense having to deal with either No. 12.
Chud on what he's seen out of tight end Mo Alie-Cox:
"It's incredible the progress that he's made for a guy that never played football at all. It's unbelievable. That was one of the things, fortunately, that I got a chance to do a little bit of to get some coaching fix in that year was to work with some of the young guys and so I spent a lot of time just on the side and after practice or outside meeting with him. He's just come a long way.
"Give him all the credit in the world. He's a guy that always has his notebook with him (and) always is working. He's in the meeting room, he's doing extra things all over the place to get himself to where he's gotten to where he's making plays. He's a guy who, he'll make a mistake, and he's a guy that he'll correct that mistake and that won't happen again to him. I think those characteristics, obviously he has the talent and some physical tools, but there are a lot of guys that have physical tools. I think those characteristics, his want to, his desire, his ability to learn and work at it and he's really accelerated the learning curve for a football player from being normally what a guy goes through playing in peewee and playing in junior high and high school and college getting 10 years of football, he's done it in two (years)."
Bowen Analysis: Chud said that early on he was telling Swoope things that the coach would be telling his 10-year-old son. Since Dwayne Allen went down, Swoope has caught six balls for 123 yards. His 20.5 yards per catch is the second highest in the NFL for tight ends with at least 100 snaps. If Allen returns this weekend, it will be interesting to see if the Colts still carve out a role for Swoope on offense.
Monachino on watching Vontae Davis at Thursday's practice:
"I know that from an injury standpoint from what went down on Sunday, we've got to manage him. As long as we can keep him out of the fray from a contact standpoint he can continue to get good work. He's not getting the total number of snaps he would normally get. He's not getting snaps in all periods, but I do think that Vontae showed today that he's prepared to run around and he's prepared to cover and those things that will be fine. We've still got to continue to evaluate him as we go through the week because he's not completely off the protocol yet."
Bowen Analysis: The good news from Thursday's practice report was on the injury report. Davis' improvement to being a limited participant on Thursday might have been the best news. Davis still has to progress further in the concussion protocol, but Monachino's words are very encouraging for what the Colts watched out of Davis on Thursday.
Monachino on the play of his defense:
"I think we're getting better. I know that last week there were a lot of good things that we did. I felt like when we came in on Monday and watched the tape that we defensively wasted a really good defensive effort. I think that there were times in the game that if we can find ways to finish drives that we could have played winning defense. I know that's what you strive for and at the end of the game if we've got one more point than they've got that's winning defense. But we strive for better than that. I think we're getting better."
Bowen Analysis: Monachino's unit stood tall in some sudden change situations last week. But the overall consistency has to keep on making strides. Sunday could be the toughest challenge the Colts will see from a pass defense standpoint in 2016. Will the Colts be able to disrupt the seemingly always on-point timing of Aaron Rodgers and a plethora of Green Bay receivers?
Monachino on trying to defend Aaron Rodgers:
"Well, the biggest thing that we've got to do is we have to control him and keep him in the pocket. If we can force him to operate from inside the pocket we have a better chance. If he starts running around, whether it's to his right or to his left or up through the middle, that's when he's the most dangerous because then he can create. He's not a paint by numbers player in any way.
"He's a guy that understands that I can get out and convert routes and make things happen down the field. Yeah, it presents a huge challenge. Our guys are in tune with what they do or what they've shown to do on tape. But we also know that every play there's a potential for it to turn into recess, and once that happens, our guys have to be in great leverage. We have to be attached to receivers. We have to be able to finish downs no matter how long they take. It might be 10-second downs out there instead of the normal six or seven seconds."
Bowen Analysis: Watching Rodgers work against Atlanta last week and he was tremendous in keeping so many plays alive, and then capping those plays with a completion or yards gained via his feet. Rodgers had 60 rushing yards last week. There might not be another quarterback in the NFL who is as accurate and dangerous of a playmaker as Rodgers is in and out of the pocket.
Monachino on where T.Y. McGill best fits:
"T.Y. is a staple in our pass rush packages. We have always known that was his dominant trait. The more times he can get a single with the same guy and set one thing up for another I think you'll see him to continue to get more and more production. He's always had that, we just have to figure out when we get to the end of the week, if he presents the most problems for the offense we're getting ready to face. Because if we're facing a team that runs the ball 55 times a game, which might be the inverse of what we may face this week, that's not a great situation for T.Y. But when we can get him enough pass rushes he's got a chance to be productive on a number of them."
Bowen Analysis: Per usual, Monachino offers a very accurate description of a player's skillset and how the Colts want to use those traits. McGill isn't a guy that you will see often in the Colts' base defense. Having said that, the Colts (and really every team in the NFL) use so many sub packages on defense that McGill is going to get plenty of chances to rush the passer. With the Colts' struggles in affecting the passer off the edge, interior disruption has to be a route that is used.