INDIANAPOLIS – No matter the defensive personnel, the tackling for the Indianapolis Colts has to improve.
Common messages often reign throughout an NFL locker room.
This was the theme from Chuck Pagano, and through every defensive leader for the Colts following Sunday's season-opening loss.
"We have to tackle better," Pagano said on Sunday. "We didn't do a great job (tackling). We talked all week about their backs and their receivers. You have to limit yards after (catch). We had multiple opportunities to make plays in their backfield and we couldn't close it out and it cost us. We said early on that that was one thing that we had to do a better job of."
With how banged up the Colts were in the secondary on Sunday, including losing T.J. Green and Patrick Robinson during the game, the thought was Detroit would test the Colts vertically.
Instead, the Lions relied on higher percentage throws and their playmakers did the rest.
Per Pro Football Focus, Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford was 27-of-30 for 247 yards and all three of his touchdowns when attempting passes of less than 10 yards.
Those numbers are a byproduct of the Colts' tackling struggles.
"The tackling sucked," Mike Adams said after Sunday's loss. "We have to get better at that, we have to tackle – bottom line.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Lions had 213 of their 340 receiving yards after the catch.
Detroit is known for having arguably the best pair of elusive runners in the NFL.
Ameer Abdullah (120 total yards) and Theo Riddick (108 total yards) lived up to the hype.
"Missed tackles," Robert Mathis said of what plagued the defense on Sunday. "Defense 101. When you do things like that, you breathe life into offenses so we've got to do a better job of getting the guys on the ground."
This offseason the Colts have put an emphasis on a more physical brand of football.
The good news for the Colts is the opposing offensive personnel coming will not mirror the playmaking ability seen from Detroit.
Also, Indy's defense will get some headline players back in the near future.
Nonetheless, whoever is on either side of the ball, the Colts know they cannot have the same tackling performance they had to start 2016.
"We've worked on tackling drills so much this year, more than I have in a long time," D'Qwell Jackson said after Sunday's season opener.
"There's no excuse. I don't care if it's the first game. We have to make those plays when they present themselves."