Behind Enemy Lines: Indianapolis Colts

What's the key ingredients behind the Colts success? How did they turn the season around? And how could the Browns attack them? Insight from Coltpower.com's Eric Hartz...

1. The Cleveland Browns may be about to have yet another change in leadership following the 2008 season, and haven't seen consistent success since the late 1980s. What do you feel is the key to the Colts consistent success in recent years?

Certainly, the continuity in the leadership positions has had a lot to do with it. Since taking over the team after his father's death in 1997, Jim Irsay has been content to let the football people make football decisions. One of his best choices was in his first year as team owner, when he brought Bill Polian aboard as team president, but the addition of Tony Dungy completed the puzzle. Polian knows what Dungy looks for in a player and has a knack for finding those players that may have been overlooked, but will fit in the Colts' system. And while the Colts may overpay some of the their stars, they also are smart about not overpaying free agents that are replaceable through the draft.

2. The Colts were stumbling as the season began. What were the key factors in the turnaround?

They had some injury concerns, especially along the offensive line and with Peyton Manning. The defense was getting lit up and couldn't consistently get stops. The key factors in the turnaround have just come from a bit more confidence from both units. The defense is coming up with more big plays, and in turn, the offense doesn't have to force things. And, because the offense is scoring consistently, the defense is able to play more aggressive and try to make plays. The Colts still aren't a dominant team, as they have been at times in the past, but they've been doing just enough on both sides of the ball to get the job done.

3. On offense, the Browns have a number of weapons but have never seen much success this season. How would you go about attacking the weak points in the Colts defense?

Protecting the quarterback is the first key — no offense is going to have success against the Colts if Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are in the QB's face on every throw. If that means running quick routes, leaving in extra blockers, or rolling the quarterback out, then that's what the Browns need to do. Cleveland is actually well-equipped to deal with the Colts with a big, strong back and several receiving threats. When a team is able to spread the ball around, the better off they are, because the Colts defense is fast. They make mistakes, but they recover quickly. A combination of quick hitters underneath, on slants or along the sidelines, and a steady diet of Jamal Lewis will keep the Browns in the game if they can finish drives with touchdowns.


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