New Defensive Coordinator Coyer Fit the Colts' Needs Perfectly, Caldwell Says
INDIANAPOLIS – To Jim Caldwell, the situation couldn't have been more perfect.
Caldwell, who succeeded Tony Dungy as the Colts' head coach in mid-January, not only had long known the man he hired to run the Colts' defense, he knew that that man knew a lot about defenses.
And he knew the man knew a lot about the Colts' defense, specifically.
"He had just left a system that's exactly like the system we run," Caldwell said recently for this story on Coyer, the second of a two stories to run this week on the Colts' new defensive coordinator.
"It was fairly easy to see that was a good match in that sense, I think."
Coyer, who served the past two seasons as the assistant head coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, spent the previous seven seasons with the Denver Broncos, the last four as the defensive coordinator.
The Buccaneers during Coyer's time there ran the Tampa 2 or Dungy Defense, so named because Dungy helped repopularize the scheme while the head coach there from 1996-2001. When Dungy left in 2001, his defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin, stayed in Tampa and ran the defense until this past season.
Caldwell said recently the Colts would stay with the Cover 2, Dungy-style defense moving forward, reiterating the point at the recent NFL Owners Meetings in Dana Point, Cal.
The possibility of a change was something about which Coyer was asked in February.
"I've been fortunate enough now to coach in two or three different organizations and we've always had personnel that's good enough to win," Coyer said during an introductory press conference in early February.
"I think our personnel is good enough to win, and I think what that personnel can do is up to our ability as teachers. That's what we are as coaches, is teachers and communicators. If we want to tweak something we can do it. It comes back to communication and accountability.
"My whole job is to give our team the best chance we can give them to win, that's it. Whatever we need to do to do that, we're going to do."
And Coyer made it clear in February that despite potential offseason losses, and no matter the acquisitions the rest of the offseason, "The personnel people are going to do what they have to do to give us a chance to win."
"You take hits at every area in the National Football League," Coyer said. "The big deal is that you have to have people who will step up – however it is, whatever it is, people who step up. This team has done a great job of that. The Colts have done a great job of having guys step up and contribute to this football team. Otherwise, you wouldn't have six straight years with (at least) 12 wins. They've done a great job.
"The players have done a great job and the personnel people have done a great job. My job is to coach them. They'll give us, I'm sure, the players to win a championship because I know that's what this organization wants."
Coyer, a 45-year veteran of coaching, ran a four-lineman front in Denver, and while it wasn't the Dungy Defense, necessarily, Caldwell said Coyer showed with the Broncos an ability to adapt to situations and personnel.
"Here was the big plus," Caldwell said. "Over the years, he has been able to adjust and adapt to what was needed. He looked at his personnel and adjusted to his personnel. When he was at Denver, he played similar to our style. In other cases when he was in Denver, if he couldn't get enough pressure with his two ends rushing he brought a little more pressure in terms of blitzing and things if that nature."
The Colts blitzed at times under former defensive coordinator Ron Meeks, but Dungy long said the way to run the Tampa 2 was to pressure the quarterback with a four-man defensive line, a concept that allowed seven players to play the pass.
Will the Colts blitz more under Coyer?
"I don't anticipate a whole lot of difference in terms of what we've been doing," Caldwell said. "Our scheme is going to stay the same. You're not going to see a blitz-happy team. We're going to do the things it takes for us to be effective. I'm not saying you're not going to see any more blitzes than normal, and I do think you'll see just a little bit of an adjustment in flavor."
But more than specifics, Caldwell said it was a confidence in Coyer's versatility and adaptability that drew him to hire a man for whom he played collegiately at Iowa in the mid-1970s.
Caldwell, who played safety at Iowa from 1974-1976, also coached there as a graduate assistant in 1977. Coyer was the defensive coordinator at Iowa throughout that time.
"The really appealing thing was what he brings in terms if his intangibles," Caldwell said. "He's a very knowledgeable guy and he has been in a multitude of systems. He has a wide breadth of defensive schemes that he'll be able to certainly implement. We're not going to change from a schematic standpoint, but I do think he'll be able to help us develop in some areas where we need to get a little better."