Colts' Defenders Face Off Against Similar Offense
Most recently 'Peyton Manning to Reggie Wayne,' and in the not so distant past, 'Manning to Marvin Harrison,' are both phrases that permeated defensive coordinators' minds when they referenced the Indianapolis Colts.
Opposing defenses understand they must focus their energy on stopping those combinations, but with other top-flight receivers like Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzalez and tight end Dallas Clark, it is hard to concentrate on just one matchup.
Colts' defenders understand the significance of those types of relationships after witnessing it every day in practice, and recognize that connection when they see it on other teams, too.
The Houston Texans' duo of Matt Schaub and receiver Andre Johnson fits that description.
In 2009, Schaub led the National Football League with 4,770 passing yards and was the Pro Bowl's Most Valuable Player, while Johnson led the NFL with 1,569 receiving yards. The teammates were the first to accomplish those feats together since Brett Favre and receiver Antonio Freeman did so in 1998 for the Green Bay Packers.
Just how dangerous does Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell believe the Texans' offense is with Schaub at the helm and Johnson manning the receiver position?
"Extremely (dangerous). I mean it is potent," Caldwell said at Wednesday's press conference. "Schaub is throwing the ball extremely well and operates that offense with great efficiency. He has weapons to get the ball to. Obviously, Johnson on the outside has speed, power and you name it, he's got it."
With two close Colts' wins in 2009, 20-17 at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 8 and 35-27 at Reliant Stadium on November 29, linebacker Gary Brackett said Monday the game Sunday at 1 p.m. in Houston most likely will be a tight one. Brackett also offered insight to the Texans' desire to stretch the field with its passing attack, and how dangerous it can be.
"That is just that team and (that) is their makeup," Brackett said. "I think last year they were in the top five in passing. Andre Johnson is one of the premier receivers in the league. (Schaub) likes him as a target and tries to get him the ball as much as possible.
"They are very similar to what we have here as far as a solid running back, some pretty steady receivers and a quarterback that can sling the ball around. It is going to be a test. Last year, the second game was pretty much a dogfight until we got some turnovers. I think with this team you really want to get some turnovers, prevent them from scoring and give our offense the ball back as many times as possible."
Colts' safety Melvin Bullitt knows Sunday's game will be a good test for the defense, and more specifically, the Colts' secondary.
"I can only speak for the secondary, and we know the weapons that they have with (Matt) Schaub being an elite quarterback and probably having the best receiver in the game," Bullitt said. "We really have to step up and shut down that aspect of the game. It is going to be a great game."
Players around the league always respect and try to emulate greatness at their respective positions. It just makes sense to try and learn from some of the best in the game to try and hone one's craft.
Garcon is no different, and whether it is Wayne or Johnson, the young wideout understands he can learn from both.
"With Andre Johnson, the name says it all," Garcon said. "I'm trying to be like Andre Johnson. He is a big receiver, he's fast, and he catches the ball and does everything for them. He is the top receiver and top player on that team. He is a prototypical wide receiver."