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Colts Assistant Coaches share insight on their Position Groups

Posted by Kevin Bowen on October 24, 2013 – 9:00 am

The Colts are the midst of their bye week and that means the team’s assistant coaches were available to the media earlier this week.

Here are some tidbits from the assistant coaches as the Colts have finished the first two months of the 2013 season:

Quarterbacks Coach Clyde Christensen:

The longest tenured Colts coach on the staff talks about what the team is losing in Reggie Wayne:

“Just the culture. He’s a big part of our culture and how we want to do things and how we compete and how we practice and all those things. I’m just trusting that he got us off to a start. He got the receiver room off to a good start and the passing game.

“The consistency factor, hopefully he’s communicated enough and other guys have to respond now and do the same thing. He has been that security blanket. All of a sudden, we’ve all had a kid and they have their, there’s a time when you got to take the security blanket away. There’s no more of that. We’re taking your favorite animal. You’re 13 now. You got to grow up and go. So it’s going to have to be the same thing. Some folks are going to have to step up. We have to keep the same level of consistency that he brought. He’s been big with those young receivers. T.Y. (Hilton) now, right? You see the effects of being in the room with Reggie (Wayne) and T.Y.’s game and how it’s stepped up and how consistent he’s become and that has to permeate through the whole unit and certainly the receiver room.”

Running Backs Coach David Walker

Coach Walker was a popular interview on Tuesday and he chatted about what he’s seen from Trent Richardson:

“A guy that’s working real hard to understand and learn the nuances of our offense. He’s doing a good job with that. It’s still a work in progress. Certain phases were quicker than others, but he’s making progress there. He’s obviously a guy that has the ability to make defenders miss tackles, he’s made a lot of missed tackles in his short time here, and he finishes runs. All the things when he was in Cleveland and throughout his college career that people see in him, those things have showed up and will continue to show up.”

Wide Receivers Coach Charlie Williams

Another popular coach talked about how his room is handling the loss of Reggie Wayne:

“It’s a very tough loss to lose a guy like Reggie and what he does and brings to our team both on the field and off the field. As Coach Pagano always talks about, the next man is up. Whoever that next man may be, we’ll get ready to go and do what we do, continue to win football games.”

“(Reggie’s) going to be a coach on the field just like as if he was playing. He knows what to look for and he can help these guys tremendously. He does it all the time when he’s on the field and when he’s out there playing he can help when we’re off the field in terms of when the defense is on the field. He’s going to be a tremendous help to us. He’s going to stay in the game.”

Defensive Line Coach Gary Emanuel

On rookie Montori Hughes and his progress:

“He’s just improving in all aspects of the game. He’s understanding playing at this level and what it takes consistently to play in there. The hardest part to play for a young guy is really defensive line because you have so many offensive linemen that have so much experience and they know all the tricks of the trade so it really puts you behind the eight ball a little bit. But he’s developing, he’s getting better. He’s a tremendous athlete. He’s got great size so we are looking forward to him continuing to get better.”

Linebackers Coach Jeff FitzGerald

The exuberant FitzGerald was asked about what Jerrell Freeman means to the Colts defense:

“Tremendous. He does a great job. We’ve given him more and more responsibility on the defense and he’s handled every bit of it. He doesn’t balk at it whatsoever. I think he enjoys having the extra responsibility that we put on him and he does a good job with it. I think he looks at it as a challenge. He’s hard on himself. He’s great to coach. We’re hard on him, but he’s probably ultimately the hardest guy on himself to get better.”

Secondary Coach Mike Gillhamer

On if Vontae Davis is the ideal cover corner:

“Yeah, I think Vontae sees himself that way but I think also we try to get across that he’s got to be a complete corner and he’s got to do the complete things, play off. Since he’s got here, we’ve really worked on his technique. A lot of times, I think what’s happened in Vontae’s past is that when things go bad, you revert back to old habits. You need something that you can go back to when things are going bad. That’s the thing that we try to get across to him is technique and staying intense and staying everything that way. He’s responded real well.”

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Colts Daily Headlines: October 24th Edition

Posted by Kevin Bowen on – 8:46 am

With the players away from the complex, the news has simmered down a bit for the Indianapolis Colts. Today’s news looks at the play of Erik Walden and Andrew Luck’s honor.

Take a look below at the top pieces from Thursday, October 24th.

Time was right for Colts linebacker Erik Walden to make huge contribution against Denver

By: Zak Keefer, Indy Star

For Erik Walden, Sunday’s win over the Denver Broncos was a coming out party of sorts.

After the season, the Packers elected not to bring him back. Grigson hauled in him, part of roughly $140 million spent on free agents in the offseason. Through six games, it was the Packers, and not the Colts, who appeared to have gotten the better end of the bargain.

“They earned it,” Pagano said. “What they’ve done to this point, they earned the extra time off. We got a great group, we got great leaders and I trust everyone will take care of themselves and do the right things and get away and have time to recharge, take care of their bodies, get healthy, be with family and reconnect with whoever they need to reconnect with.”

“You can’t listen to the critics,” Walden said. “I was growing into my role, but I got hard on myself, because of course I want a bunch of sacks.”

Everything was different Sunday because Walden was everywhere: Of Denver’s four turnovers, he had a role in three of them.

“It’s been a process,” said FitzGerald. “It takes time, but the things we’re teaching him are good things. When guys haven’t had the exposure, or you’ve learned over the years to do something a different way, you have to learn the new way and flush out the old way.”

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck named AFC’s offensive player of week

By: Staff, Indy Star

Every Wednesday, the NFL announces their weekly awards and for the first time in 2013, the Colts were recipients of some honors.

The NFL announced today that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has been named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 7. This marks the second time Luck has earned the award in his career.

“It’s a true honor and very indicative of a great team win over a good Broncos team,” said quarterback Andrew Luck. “We’ve still got a long way to go in the season, but we’re on the right track.”

Last week, Luck led the Colts to a 39-33 victory over Denver on Sunday Night Football. He completed 21-of-38 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns for a 99.5 passer rating. Luck also rushed for one touchdown in the game.

With four total touchdowns, Luck tied his single-game career-high (four at Detroit on Dec. 2, 2012). His three touchdown passes are the most he has thrown in a first half of his career while his 199 passing yards marked the third-highest total for a first half in a single game. Luck’s rushing touchdown was the eighth of his career, which ranks second among NFL quarterbacks over the last two seasons.

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Jerrell Freeman adds pass rushing dimension to his tackling machine nature

Posted by Kevin Bowen on September 26, 2013 – 8:55 am

Back in late May, Colts linebackers coach Jeff Fitzgerald talked about the versatility his group had and how implementing that would be the next step heading into 2013.

Moving players around and allowing the Colts pass rush to thrive on third downs was something Fitzgerald was looking for out of his linebackers.

Jerrell Freeman was a tackling machine in his first NFL season last year but he has taken Fitzgerald’s offseason wish and made it come true.temp2013_0922_SF_2816--nfl_mezz_1280_1024

Freeman 3.0 sacks are tied for ninth in the NFL and he’s the only inside linebacker in the league with more than 1.5 sacks.

“It’s just making the most of an opportunity,” Freeman says. “Guys up front, my other linebackers blitzing in and doing their thing. They’re doing all that work, the least I can do is make a play when I get the opportunity.”

Two of those sacks have come on third downs and in both of those cases Freeman has forced a fumble with the Colts recovering the loose ball.

The 15 takeaways the Colts had last season were one of the fewest in the NFL and Freeman is doing everything he can to change that number.

“We just try to get turnovers, try to make a difference out there. That’s what we preach,” Freeman said on Wednesday.

“Last year, we wanted to do more with the turnover battle and I think we’re at plus-four now. It’s a big thing. Get old Andy (Andrew Luck) the ball over there and I think we’ll be pretty good.”

Perhaps the most impressive indication of Freeman’s play in 2013 is he still has 26 tackles, which ranks near the top of the NFL.

Freeman’s 26 tackles is the most tackles for the top 64 players on the sack list after three games.

Last year, Freeman was a much needed catalyst in the middle of the Colts defense.

He is once again doing that in 2013 and has even added another dimension to his game that not many inside linebackers possess.

“He’s a good athlete. He studies the game, he works hard, he can run,” head coach Chuck Pagano says about Freeman.

“The guy’s got instincts. He knows probably what’s coming before it comes. He’s effective both in coverage, he’s effective in the run game, and when we do blitz he finds a way to get to the quarterback, so he’s got a knack for that.”

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Lawrence Sidbury looking to add his name to other Colts outside linebackers

Posted by Kevin Bowen on July 3, 2013 – 7:30 am

The names at the outside linebacker position for the Colts have been picked and prodded.

Robert Mathis?

  • One of the game’s finest pass rushers over the past decade.

Erik Walden?

  • Great edge setter in trying to limit the opponent’s running game.

Bjoern Werner?

  • The 1st round pick who racked up 13 sacks in winning ACC Defensive Player of the Year last year.

How about Lawrence Sidbury?temp2013_0528_OTA_bowen_0188--nfl_mezz_1280_1024

Not much is known about the five-year NFL veteran who has been lost in the shuffle with some of the bigger named Colts free agents this offseason.

Sidbury showed flashes of potential in Atlanta (four sacks as a backup in 2011) and now he is hoping to take advantage of a new environment in Indianapolis.

“This league is about opportunities and when you get those, you’ve got to make the most of it,” Sidbury said on Monday’s “Ride with JMV”.

“Now I’m here in Indianapolis where the coaching staff and everyone in the building, have embraced me. They just want me to go out there and make plays like they know I can do.”

In moving to Indianapolis, Sidbury is also adjusting to life as a standup linebacker in the Colts 3-4 defensive scheme.

He feels the transition has gone pretty smooth as Sidbury’s clearly understands the mantra around his new locker room.

“As you know I’ve been introduced to the whole “Build the Monster” theme and building this defense to be a top-10 defense in the league,” Sidbury said.

“They want outside linebackers to set the edge first, get this running game taken care of and then third down we want guys to pin their head back and get after the quarterback.”

When Sidbury’s position coach Jeff Fitzgerald was asked about the depth on the edge a few weeks back he alluded to a few other names besides Mathis, Walden and Werner.

Sidbury’s name would fall into that category and he’s grateful for an opportunity in such a welcoming atmosphere.

“Indianapolis has been great,” Sidbury said. “The people have embraced the team and being a new guy that’s all you can really ask for so I’m enjoying it.”

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on June 26, 2013 – 9:30 am

To branch off yesterday’s article on Jeff Fitzgerald and his versatility at the linebacker position, here are some more comments from the Colts linebackers coach.

Fitzgerald just wrapped up an offseason working with a few new faces and here’s a look at three of them below:

On what he has seen from new linebacker Erik Walden:

“He’s football savvy so he has a pretty good idea. Now, it’s learning the terminology, understanding the type of techniques that we use, when and how we use those techniques.

Right now, he’s kind of transitioning into just learning what we are doing. We still see good things on the field. He understands what he’s doing, understands the fine details of his job, I’m excited. He’s going to be alright.”

On what intrigued Fitzgerald when he popped in the film of former Buffalo Bills linebacker Kelvin Sheppard:

“What we saw on tape was a guy who could find the football, was able to get down in the box and do some really good physical, attack type of things, both in the blitz game and playing base, taking on blockers and doing that.

“He seemed to have a very good understanding of what the scheme was and where he fit in the run game and what he was able to do coming out of the box.”

On rookie Bjoern Werner working on both sides of the Colts four-man linebacker corps:

“We are just trying to bring him into the whole picture. He’s going to learn his responsibilities. What I see from him is the ability to play RUSH linebacker, or SAM linebacker somewhere down the road. I think we’ve got him in the right spot right now but we will have flexibility in time, as he develops.”

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on June 6, 2013 – 7:30 am

Over the past few weeks you’ve heard Bjoern’s Werner’s high school coach rave about the type of person that the city of Indianapolis will be getting in the Colts 2013 first round pick.

His college coach Jimbo Fisher lauded Werner’s never-ending motor.

But how about his newest coaches with the Indianapolis Colts?

Defensive line coach Gary Emanuel has already watched Werner pick the brains of veterans Robert Mathis and Cory Redding in an effort to try an absorb as much knowledge as possible at the NFL level.

“He’s a sponge – very good in the classroom,” Emanuel said. “He’s just a football junkie. He likes being around the building. Everything I’ve seen from Bjoern leads me to believe he should have a great career.”

Throughout OTAs, linebackers coach Jeff Fitzgerald has been working Werner on both sides of the Colts four-man linebacker look.

Werner primarily played with his hand in the dirt during his time at Florida State but has made the transition to a standup role.

“We are just trying to bring him into the whole picture. He’s going to learn his responsibilities,” Fitzgerald said.

“What I see from him is the ability to play RUSH linebacker or SAM linebacker somewhere down the road. He’s setting his feet. I think we’ve got him in the right spot right now but we will have flexibility in time, as he develops.”

Unlike last season, Colts rookies across the board are not needed to be pressed into starting roles from day one.

That might eventually come, but for now Werner finds himself among some talented outside linebackers and that’s music to Fitzgerald’s ears.

“Ideally it’s going to be a good problem,” Fitzgerald said of the depth at outside linebacker. “We are going to have some good players sitting on the sidelines with us during games. We are going to have to give these guys different packages, get everybody involved.”

“What happens is that when you have these type of tools, it allows you to be a little bit more creative with these things and third down is a big part of creation and devising different ways and means of doing things.”

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on May 29, 2013 – 7:40 am

We are now 99 days away from the start of the 2013 NFL season with the Colts wrapping up OTAs over the next two weeks.

Last week the Colts assistant coaches were made available to the media and offered some great perspective into their position group. will take a closer look into these groups over the coming weeks and here is a preview of comments from the various defensive assistant coaches.

Defensive line coach Gary Emanuel spent much of the 2012 season learning new players names as injuries crippled his unit.

No need to worry though as reinforcement have arrived to Indianapolis and Emanuel talked about one of those new acquisitions in Ricky Jean Francois.

“Ricky Jean is a guy who brings experience.  In the position he plays, he adds a lot of versatility.  He’s played five-technique, three-technique, he’s played nose.  Obviously, he played in the Super Bowl last year with a great team, so he brings a lot of experience, toughness and understanding of the defense.”

Linebackers coach Jeff Fitzgerald has seen a lot of change to both the outside and inside positions over the past few months.

His emotion is evident when he describes the possibilities that he has with his position group heading into 2013.

“I think overall we have a more complete group right now. We’ve got a lot of guys in the group that can do a lot of different things so there’s some overlap there. We’re cross-training some of the guys so that we can play them at different positions. We have the guys from last year that have a year of learning under our belt in our system and we have new guys coming in as veterans that have football knowledge coming and are aware of things we are teaching. They pick it up quicker because they’ve had it for a while. I’m really excited about it, I think we have a good group that can do a lot of different things. There’s going to be some flexibility and job exchanges and things of that nature because we can. We have the right type of guys.”

Defensive backs coach Mike Gillhamer is one of the most energetic position coaches on the entire Colts staff.

Gillhamer’s defensive backs have turned in some impressive plays in the early parts of OTAs with new cornerback Greg Toler being at the top of that list.

“We are really happy with Greg. He’s come in here with a great attitude. He’s so powerful. He reminds me of a big game cat, like a cheetah. He’s just so powerful, he can spring. His attitude has been awesome. He’s been everything that we’d hoped he be.”

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