Will New-Look Colts Defensive Line Make A Difference Against Patriots?

Intro: Come Sunday night, a major storyline will come in the trenches if the Colts new-look defensive group can shut down a Patriots running attack that has given Indianapolis fits in recent meetings.


INDIANAPOLIS – It's the position group with the biggest turnover of any from last year's Colts and Patriots matchups.

It's also the position group that had Jim Irsay's full attention at the NFL's League Meetings back in March.

Chuck Pagano sums up the Colts defensive line changes from 2014 to 2015, concisely.

"We're different up front," the Colts head coach said earlier this week.

Those four words don't do it enough justice.

The Colts are vastly different up front in 2015 and that's a good thing.

Through five weeks of the season, the Colts have held starting running backs to just 3.3 yards per carry this year. Perennial 1,000-yard rushers LeSean McCoy and Arian Foster were limited to less than 2.5 yards per carry when they faced the Colts defense.

After five weeks, the Colts lead the NFL in forcing 25 negative running plays this season (six more than any other team).

It's a group that was heavily scrutinized in the offseason when the re-tooling began.

Just how different will the Colts defensive line people see Sunday look from last year?

Consider this: The Colts return just eight percent of the defensive line snaps from guys who played against the Patriots last season (34 of the 434 total snaps, all from Zach Kerr).

On Tuesday, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels echoed virtually the same thought to the Colts defensive front to what Pagano said on Monday.

"It's much different than what we've played in the past," McDaniels said.

The Colts obviously hope that the new faces in the trenches will lead to new results come Sunday night.

As if it needed any more backing, the Colts run defense was an offseason key.

Free agent addition Kendall Langford is the elder statesmen of the Colts defensive line group.

Sunday will be Langford's first taste of a rivalry, one that fellow lineman Henry Anderson notes has brought a different sense in the energy around the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center this week.

"I knew about that way before I came here," Langford says of Colts/Patriots.

"It's a big rivalry and it's one of the biggest across the league."

Langford isn't looking to get too caught up in the hoopla though.

Instead, his focus is to make sure the Colts defensive line shows New England just how different they are in 2015.

"Anytime a team feels like they can just run the ball at will it's hard to play defense," Langford says.

"You have to try and make a team one-dimensional."

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