It has been a staple of the league’s top defenses year in and year out.
The ability to stop the run traditionally leads to good defenses at any level, but especially in the NFL.
“That’s just a philosophy of football going back to pee wee football, less mistakes happen when an offense can just hand the ball off, run it, chew up the clock, keep your offense off the field and I think philosophically that’s the mentality of football. You can’t let somebody just line up and run over you,” safety Tom Zbikowski said.
How the Colts line up in their new 3-4 hybrid defense has garnered much of the attention during training camp. It’s trying to stop the run that the defenders are most focused on.
As a safety, the role Zbikowski plays in helping out the rush defense might not seem too significant, but he knows the stronger he is in the secondary the more he’ll free up the playmakers in the front seven.
“For safeties it’s always, we got to deal with the pass, but certain times we got to help out (with the rush). We want the players in front of us to be aggressive and not necessarily have a certain gap,” Zbikowski said. “So that’s why I always enjoy playing this defense because you let the linemen and linebackers, really, play ball.”
The importance of all three units of the defense being on the same page is crucial for the success as a whole. There are new faces in all three and over the summer, Zbikowski has seen the needed growth from everyone involved.
“I saw it towards the end of OTAs and towards minicamp and now it’s really all the pieces playing together, not necessarily just the defensive line knowing what each other is doing, but knowing the linebackers, knowing what the secondary is doing and knowing what the front is doing. Even the front knows what the secondary is doing and just how we all play together,” Zbikowski said.
Now heading into their second week of training camp, Zbikowski said the defense is trying to get down the ‘fine nuances.’
Zbikowski might have played his first four NFL seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, but he wanted to make it clear that this defense will have its own identity.
“We’re not trying to be Baltimore, we’re trying to be the Indianapolis Colts. So, we don’t want to take on the personality of another team. That’s taking away from who you are and then you’re only going to be second or third-best to someone else who is that. So, we’re trying to have our own personality and our own mentality,” Zbikowski said.
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