Do The Colts Have A Blueprint For Success Vs. The Broncos' Defense?

Intro: The Indianapolis Colts put together the best offensive performance of the season last year against the No. 1-rated Denver Broncos defense in a 27-24 win. What can the Colts learn from that film for Sunday’s game?


INDIANAPOLIS — Rob Chudzinski clearly remembers the Indianapolis Colts' victory over the eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos last season.

The week leading up to the game? Not so much.

It was just five days before the Broncos game last year that Chudzinski was handed the reigns of the Colts' offense, and with everything that was put on his plate at the time, the preparation for the game itself is now just a blur.

"You come into work and sometimes in this league you have no idea what's going to happen by the end of the day, and that was one of those days," Chudzinski said this week.

The game itself, meanwhile, is something Chudzinski will always remember — a 27-24 victory over the No. 1 defense in the league in which the Colts' offense was able to start quick, finish strong and commit zero turnovers.

"Our guys pulled together, players and the coaches," Chudzinski said. "A lot of teamwork and the guys came to play and we got out on the field and we got the job done and executed and played well against a great team."

Hired as the Colts' full-time offensive coordinator in January, Chudzinski says he's definitely using the film from that 2015 matchup against the Broncos to get his unit ready to go Sunday, when Indianapolis travels to Denver for a 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff.

But while the film might expose some flaws and potential favorable matchups in various schemes and alignments, Chudzinski said there will be a completely new gameplan for Sunday's game.

"It's not like you can look at film and find that one place or that one play that there's something there," he said. "It's just, you have to go and you have to execute and be on point in the game."

The Broncos' defense, while it's missing a piece or two from last year's unit, is still one of the best in the league, and showed flashes that it can be just as dangerous in Denver's Week 1 victory over the talented Carolina Panthers.

The Broncos have studs all around the field defensively — in the secondary, they have guys like T.J. Ward; their pass rushing features perennial NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate Von Miller; and the Denver defensive line is both talented and deep.

"There are not a lot of kinks in the armor to find," Chudzinski said. "They have one of the best secondaries in the league. Obviously everybody knows about their pass rushers and they're tough inside, they've got really underrated good backers"

Last year's matchup against the Broncos was also the only game in which Chudzinski was able to lead an offense with Andrew Luck at quarterback.

After performing to the tune of a 98.4 quarterback rating — the highest for an opposing quarterback against Denver's defense all season — that week, Luck would miss the rest of the year with a lacerated kidney unknowingly suffered in the fourth quarter of the game.

The Chudzinski-Luck combination kept rolling last Sunday, in the Colts' 2016 season opener against the Detroit Lions. Luck completed 31-of-47 passes for 385 yards with four touchdowns, and was consistently able to find targets deep down the field.

Those opportunities might be harder to come by on Sunday against the Broncos' defense, but Chudzinski said it's important for Luck to remain confident in the plan and, if he feels there's a big play down the field, go for it.

The Colts also were able to run the ball 40 times last season against the Broncos — holding on to the ball for more than 38 minutes — which could be a huge key on Sunday.

"Some games you'll be able to get big plays and some games you won't and you'll have to be patient and move the sticks," Chudzinski said. "You have to be able to win those games and play those different types of games. You've seen progress in Andrew over the course of his career in that area. I thought he did a great job of that (last) Sunday."

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