Added Depth Could Help Pass Rush, Dungy Says
INDIANAPOLIS – Tony Dungy saw the statistics late in the season, and he saw what happened on the field.
Because of that, he said one thing is clear:
The Colts' pass rush could use depth.
Dungy, entering his seventh season as the Colts' head coach, said on Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine that the team could use another pass rusher or two on the defensive line. The need became apparent, he said, late this past season.
With defensive end Dwight Freeney out the last seven games of the season, and with end Robert Mathis hampered with a late-season injury, the Colts had one sack in their last three games.
That included a 28-24 loss in an AFC Divisional Playoff game against San Diego.
The Colts had no sacks in that game.
"We saw what happened when Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis got hurt," Dungy said Friday at the Combine, which is ongoing this week and weekend at the RCA Dome in downtown Indianapolis.
"Obviously anybody that loses their top two rushers is going to take a little bit of a hit. Our defense is so much predicated on our front four rushing the passer. We don't blitz a lot. That need to have extra guys there and have that second wave of rushers is imant for us.
"Hopefully, we can unearth a couple of more guys who can rush the passer down the line."
FAREWELL WEEKEND: The Scouting Combine holds a bit of extra feeling for Dungy and Colts personnel this weekend.
It could be the last time many of them will be in the RCA Dome.
The Colts, who have played home games in the RCA Dome since 1984, are scheduled to begin playing in Lucas Oil Stadium – a state-of-the-art, retractable-roof facility – beginning next season.
"This will be kind of bittersweet," Dungy said. "We'll shed a tear as we blow the dome up. It's been a great home for us and it's been great to see how it transformed as the home of the Colts. When I came here seven years ago, it was a great place to play. I think it's become even more of that. I think our fans have really identified. There are a lot more blue and white jerseys at the games. It was a great time.
"We're looking forward to going into our new stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium. This is probably the last football-related event that's here. It will be nostalgic in a way."
CONSIDERING A CHANGE: Like Colts President Bill Polian, Dungy said he can see both sides of the issue on potentially reseeding the NFL playoffs.
The NFL's Competition Committee included in recent communications with member teams a survey about the possibility of reseeding the playoffs.
Currently, the four division winners in each conference are seeded 1-4 based on regular-season records, with the teams with the two best records receiving first-round byes and home games in the Divisional Playoff round. The two wild-card teams are seeded 5-6 and play on the road in the first round of the playoffs.
Some teams are proposing the playoffs be seeded based on records, meaning a wild-card team with a better record than a division winner could host a game between the teams.
"There's been a big push on that to try to help the late-season games," Dungy said. "The fact that if you didn't necessarily give the division winners a home game, if they had to have a better record, would that make the games better? If you have upsets in the first round, should you reseed in the second round?
"In some ways, it probably would make the regular season a little more meaningful and you would have less games that didn't mean anything at the end of the year. The other side of the coin is people always say, 'Shouldn't a division championship mean something? Shouldn't you get an advantage? What is the incentive to winning the division?' That's what you have to balance out.
"I've probably been old school in thinking the division champ should get some type of reward. I'm certainly open to listening to see if it could help out those last three weeks of the regular season."