INDIANAPOLIS —Turning on the film and seeing a defender produce an "effective" pass rush is nothing to balk at; it likely means they were able to win the battle against the blocker in front of them, or maybe they were able to force the quarterback out of the comforts of the pocket, or into a rushed throw.
So while effective rushes are fine, Ted Monachino wants more "productive" pass rushes out of his unit.
Sacks. Forced fumbles. Hurries. Tipped passes. Interceptions.
Now, that's production.
That was the Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator's message this week in his weekly session with reporters heading into his team's third preseason game tonight against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
In the Colts' first two preseason games against the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys, the team didn't do much preparation for the actual opponent, instead focusing on individual development. But Monachino hopes that by devoting more time to actually prepare for the Steelers' offensive schemes and individual players this week, it will result in more of those aforementioned "productive" pass rushes.
"We haven't spent a lot of time on the first two preseason opponents really looking at them as individual protectors," Monachino said. "I think once we get into that a little bit deeper, I think we'll do better there."
Against the Lions and Cowboys, the Colts combined for two sacks — one in each game, plays by T.Y. McGill and Barkevious Mingo — and six quarterback hits. Mingo's play against Dallas was certainly everything Monachino could want; he forced quarterback Kellen Moore to fumble, and Lavar Edwards picked up the ball and sprinted his way into the end zone for a defensive touchdown.
Monachino just wants more of it.
"It's the most important thing in the defense," Monachino said of generating productive pass rushes. "The best pass defense is a good pass rush and being a front guy, that's what I believe."
Here are some other takeaways from Monachino's weekly session with reporters:
• Monachino said the Cowboys' no-huddle offense got the Colts "a little bit sideways" on the opening drive of last Saturday's game, which resulted in 95 yards and a touchdown for Dallas. Though the Colts' defenders "had no problems with our operation, getting the call in and getting executed," Monachino said it was certainly a learning experience for his starting unit.
"I was not surprised that their offensive line was what we knew they were from what we'd seen on tape," he said. "I thought we would perform better. Like I said, I think that we as coaches have got to do a better job and our players have to do a better job. We've got the right men for the job, we're just not there yet."
Moving on to the Steelers, another team with a high-powered offense, tonight will be yet another tough test, but it's exactly what Monachino and his unit want.
"It's certainly important to see where we are," he said. "You hope to have some experience that tells you where some weaknesses and some things that you can go after.
"We are in the business of us getting better," Monachino continued. "We're in the Colts business right now and that's where we are. We've got a long ways to go, but we've still got a little bit of time to get there and play better."
• Monachino said the Colts are "deep" and "competing" at the cornerback position. Last week, the team had second-year safety T.J. Green begin making a transition over to cornerback, and then this week, the team signed two veteran corners, Chris Culliver and Corey White.
While Vontae Davis remains entrenched as the team's No. 1 cornerback, there's still plenty of competition for that No. 2 spot, as well as for reps at nickel corner. Those included in that competition include Rashaan Melvin, Quincy Wilson, Nate Hairston, Dante Blackmon, Chris Milton, Tyvis Powell, Green, Culliver and White.
"That depth chart is fluid almost on a daily basis and it's because the guy that practices best the day before needs to get more reps," Monachino said. " Where we are at the corner position is we're not settled by any stretch, but we are finding guys that can go in and compete at this level. We're going to keep working those guys and see when we can play man, when we have to play zone and what they do best. That's how we'll try to use them."
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