INDIANAPOLIS — Wednesday was "Sheldon & DeFo's Virtual Day Out."
Well, for hundreds of Indianapolis Colts season ticket members it was, at least.
"Colts Chat," a fun, interactive and exclusive perk for Colts' season ticket members, continued with its most recent virtual installment Wednesday night, as fans got a chance to hear from defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus as well as defensive tackles DeForest Buckner and Sheldon Day.
You might remember the previous “Colts Chat,” in which fans got introduced to new quarterback Philip Rivers, and also go to hear from head coach Frank Reich.
But things took a defensive turn on Wednesday, as Eberflus took a deep dive into his schemes and philosophies, as well as his expectations for the 2020 season, while Buckner and Day, two of the team's newest additions up front, talked about their first few months with the team (and had a little fun in the process, too).
(How can you get in on the fun? For more information on becoming a Colts season ticket member, and to have access to exclusive events like Wednesday's Colts Chat, click here.)
So what were some of the top takeaways from Eberflus, Buckner and Day's Q&A sessions with the fans this week?
» Eberflus wants his defensive linemen to have two traits more than any others: Those traits, Eberflus said, are "motor, and they gotta be mean."
"They gotta be able to play the right way with the right intensity on every single snap that they're out there," he continued.
Which transitions perfectly into the Colts' March acquisition of Buckner, an All-Pro defensive tackle who will be an ideal fit for the team's three-technique spot up front. And if you're not completely up to speed on the "three-technique" and what that means, Eberflus provided a nice definition:
"That's the defensive tackle that lines up on the outside shade of the guard, in-between the guard and the tackle," he said.
Oftentimes you'll hear the three-technique position described as the engine of the defense; it's what drives the whole unit. Why is that?
"Because of (Buckner's) penetration in that B-gap, that sets up a lot of things," Eberflus said. "It brings the center with him in pass protection, it sets of a lot of things in the defensive running game, where you penetrate in that B-gap, and it really puts the offense on their heels.
"And that's what DeForest does," Eberflus continued. "You know, DeForest is a disruptor of the offense, and that's what he does, and that's what he's always done. If you look at his body of work, over the first four seasons to his career, the amount of time this guy has played and the way he's played in terms of his intensity, in terms of his motor, in terms of his effectiveness … we're certainly excited to have him as a premier player on our football team."
» Teammates with the 49ers, Buckner and Day were ecstatic to join forces once again with the Colts: Buckner said he had let Day in on a little secret back in mid-March, when he had heard there was a possibility that he was going to be traded to the Colts.
Lo and behold, on March 18, it became official: Indy sent its 2020 first-round (13th-overall) pick to the 49ers to acquire Buckner, who at 26 is already considered one of the top defensive tackles in the league; the Colts then immediately signed Buckner to a reported four-year contract extension.
Day is an Indianapolis native, and Buckner said he was ecstatic when he heard he might be headed to his hometown — for a couple reasons.
"He was telling me that Indy was one of the places that he was looking at, too," Buckner said of Day. "And I told him, man, we could go to Indy and do the same thing over there and keep this thing going."
"One thing led to another," as Buckner alluded to, and on March 25, a week after trading for Buckner, the Colts signed the free agent Day.
"I'm happy to be home," Day said. "It's an exciting opportunity."
» Day took Buckner on a "virtual tour" of Indianapolis: Complete with wacky graphics and all, Day showed off some of his favorite stops around the Circle City to help Buckner get acclimated to his new digs.
Among the places Buckner and Day "visited" were Long's Bakery for donuts, the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Canal Walk, the Indianapolis 500, St. Elmo Steak House to try the famous shrimp cocktail, and then they wrapped everything up by taking in one of the top rivalries in Indiana high school football between Day's Warren Central Warriors against the Cathedral Fighting Irish (notable alum: Jack Doyle).
"I can't think of a better tour than that," host Larra Overton said. "DeForest, you've gotta feel like a native Hoosier. You've got everything — you've got all the bases covered there, right?"
"Exactly," Buckner said. "You hit it all. He hit all the phases."
"Hey, I might have a career in tour guiding when I'm done, you know?" Day said.
» The Colts' defensive line is hoping to get together for side workouts next month before the start of training camp: The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the utilization of an all-virtual offseason workout program across the league, as every team's facility was closed to players and coaches due to various social distancing measures. That meant players got no official on-field time together as a unit and with the coaching staff.
But players of late have been trying to arrange workouts on their own; just last week, quarterback Philip Rivers arranged an off-site minicamp of sorts in which several members of the Colts' offense and defense got together for three days in a practice-like setting.
Now the team is in its usual break between minicamp and the start of training camp, which is tentatively scheduled for July 28. But before then, the Colts' defensive line might be getting together to try to work a little momentum heading into camp.
Buckner said veteran Justin Houston is trying to set up defensive line workout sessions beginning on July 10, which could really help the guys up front get used to various playcalls and stunt assignments.
It's all part of the process of trying to build camaraderie the best they can considering the unprecedented circumstances.
"I mean, it's definitely challenging and you can only do so much right now, you know, doing all the social distancing and stuff like that," Buckner said. "But I feel like guys are doing a good job with staying connected, trying to build those relationships."