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Ted Monachino Changes Up Defensive Blueprint Against Aaron Rodgers

Intro: In Sunday’s win over the Packers, new defensive coordinator Ted Monachino changed the makeup of his defensive personnel to try and slow down two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers.


INDIANAPOLIS – Darius Butler got the news early in the week.

It was either late Monday or early Tuesday, but the text Butler received from defensive backs coach Greg Williams meant the outlook for Mike Adams playing in Green Bay wasn't great.

The Colts needed Butler, their Swiss army knife in the secondary, to be ready to play some safety. A lot of safety.

And, oh yeah, in case Butler forgot, the opposing quarterback was going to be two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers.

"Be ready to roll at safety this week," was the message from Williams.

Without Adams, the quarterback of their secondary, the Colts entrusted the cerebral Butler to slide back to safety.

The Colts left Indianapolis on a beautiful November afternoon the Saturday before their game against Green Bay.

The move was made for a couple of reasons.

First, it allowed more speed to get on the field, with Clayton Geathers now moving down to his dime linebacker role.

Second, it provided rookie safety T.J. Green (who entered the starting lineup Sunday) a veteran presence next to him in Butler.

In total, six of the Colts' top seven snap counts on defense Sunday came from the defensive backs. Each of those six defensive backs played at least 86 percent of the snaps.

That's a very, very high number, but was necessary with Rodgers whipping it around on 46 drop backs.

"They pose a different threat for us," defensive signal caller D'Qwell Jackson said in a game where he was the only inside linebacker on the field for the vast majority of the time. "For us, matching the personnel, once we had a personnel group out there, it was going to be hard for us to sub because that's what Aaron Rodgers does. He wants us to sub so he can get you with 12 man on the field and go long.

"Our back end, this is the best game they played all year, from covering guys for five, six seconds and also with a guy like Aaron Rodgers, he can throw a ball 60, 70 yards on the run. Our back end played a tremendous game."

Per Pro Football Focus, Rodgers was just 1-for-8 on passes of more than 20 yards. His day was extremely pedestrian until the deficit grew to three scores in the fourth quarter.

The Colts also halted Rodgers' streak of more than 100 passes without an interception.

Butler's diving third-quarter pick of Rodgers was some revenge for the corner turned safety.

On Jordy Nelson's touchdown in Sunday's first half, Butler said he did not completely trust his bandaged up hand in making a play on the ball.

Instincts took over in the third quarter.

"I was just eyeing the quarterback the whole time and just kind of felt the route," Butler said of his robber/spy role in ending Rodgers' 133-attempt streak without a pick.

"I just told myself trust (my hand) and I got a few fingers back. It's a different ball game when I have some digits (laughs)."

Such a personnel package involving Butler became a possibility back in Training Camp.

Injuries during camp forced Butler into significant safety reps. Although, he does admit there's quite a difference between 7-on-7 practices in Anderson versus facing Rodgers in Lambeau.

In a week Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy thought his team had its best preparation of 2016, the Colts' blueprint won in the end.

"A tremendous, tremendous effort from this defense," Chuck Pagano said after the 31-26 victory.

"I know the yards looks a little bit different, but stats are for losers, I guess. They got some yards there late, but what a tremendous job that Ted Monachino and all those assistants on defense and those players did. They played their butts off."

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