Head Coach Jim Caldwell Discusses the Offseason and the Colts' Defense
INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts opened their 2009 organized team activities this week, and on the first day, much of the talk was about the defense.
Some of the talk focused on Larry Coyer. Some of it focused on Ed Johnson.
All of it came from Jim Caldwell, who took over as the Colts' head coach in January. And after four months Caldwell said he not only likes a lot about the Colts' defense, he particularly likes the depth the team has developed at the defensive tackle position.
"We have pretty good solid depth at this point," Caldwell said. "We're hoping that's going to continue. You know how difficult it is in this game to get your team to opening day.
"Right now, when we're working and starting out, our depth is better than we've been."
The Colts, after finishing 24th in the NFL in rushing defense last season, in the months since have made several moves addressing the defensive tackle position, beginning with the selection of defensive tackle Fili Moala from the University of Southern California in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
The Colts selected tackle Terrance Taylor from the University of Michigan two rounds later.
The selections, Colts President Bill Polian and Caldwell each said, were part of an overall draft-day effort to improve the rushing defense. The team also signed Louisville defensive tackle Adrian Grady and Notre Dame defensive tackle Pat Kuntz as collegiate free agents.
Then, shortly after the draft, the Colts re-signed defensive tackle Ed Johnson, who started 16 games in 2007 and one last season before being released from the team.
Johnson registered 49 tackles and a sack as a rookie, then had a team-high 10 tackles in the season opener against Chicago before his release.
"We felt that Ed was out of work for about nine months," Caldwell said. "He has taken a number of steps to get himself back on track. He's remorseful about the mistake he made. We felt we should give him a second chance, another opunity.
"In terms of what he's able to do for our defense, I think it has been proven that even in his first year, he played a pretty significant role in our front. We anticipate if everything goes according to plan – and if he can do the things now to continue on this path – that he'll be able to help us somewhere down the road."
The Johnson signing gives the Colts not only two drafted rookies – Moala and Taylor – at the position, but five other players with extensive playing experience: Johnson, third-year veteran Keyunta Dawson (18 career starts), second-year veteran Eric Foster (11 career starts), second-year veteran Antonio Johnson (four career starts) and third-year veteran Dan Muir (nine games played).
Caldwell said another significant change is the addition to the staff of Coyer, who replaced longtime coordinator Ron Meeks shortly after Caldwell took over the head job in January.
"It appears things are going very well," Caldwell said. "He's an enthusiastic guy. Sixty-five years old, I think, is his age, but he's one of those guys who says he's 45 going on 65. He's one of those guys with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of energy.
"We were out working (Tuesday at practice) and it was a pretty smooth transition. The guys seem to be able to fall in line. Obviously, he's been working with the coaching staff for quite some time now. We feel good about the changes we've made and the adjustments we've made here and there that we think are going to benefit us greatly."
Caldwell said Coyer has merged well with the Colts' defensive staff, most of which have been on staff for five or more seasons: defensive line coach John Teerlinck (eighth season with Colts), linebackers coach Mike Murphy (12th season), secondary coach Alan Williams (eighth season), defensive line assistant Bill Teerlinck (third season) and special assistant Rod Perry (third season).
"He has fit right in and done a remarkable job of bringing some cohesion to that group," Caldwell said. "You have a lot of smart men that have been within the system – John and Murph and Rod and Alan and Bill. He has done a nice job of bringing them all together and they're working well."