Few teams have undergone as complete an overhaul as the Indianapolis Colts offense has gone through this offseason. Not only is Peyton Manning gone, but so is lead running back Joseph Addai, wide receiver Pierre Garcon and tight ends Dallas Clark and Jacob Tamme. However, the most significant difference may be along the offensive line, where second-year man Anthony Costanzo is the only returning starter from last year. The Colts are learning together on the fly and suffered more than their share of struggles in Week 1 against Chicago, making this week's battle between Kevin Williams and Indianapolis center Samson Satele this week's matchup to watch.
Satele, who started the last three seasons with the Oakland Raiders, was brought in to replace longtime center Jeff Saturday. He is in charge of making the line calls and setting up the offensive line to protect rookie QB Andrew Luck and point out where the pressure will be coming.
In his first start, Satele struggled. Luck got sacked three times, two of them coming when defensive tackle Henry Melton collapsed the pocket by going through Satele to get to Luck. The new-look Colts offense is going to need time to come together and, if Satele continues to struggle, the entire unit will collapse from the inside out.
Williams can take advantage of this unfamiliarity on the Colts O-line. He enjoyed a career resurgence last year after struggling in 2010, especially in terms of sacks. In his first two seasons, Williams recorded an astounding 22 sacks, but his sack production slipped off badly from there. In 2010, he hit bottom, recording just one sack. He came back strong last year, recording 57 tackles and five sacks. He got some of his explosiveness back and was able to blow up plays and force the quarterback off his spot – and often into the waiting arms of Jared Allen and Brian Robison.
The Vikings are expected to bring a lot of pressure on Luck from the edges, which is likely to lead the Colts having more than their share of two-tight end sets to protect Luck from Allen and Robison hard charging from the end spots. As a result, Williams could be going up against Satele one on one for most of the plays. With starting left guard Joe Reitz out for Sunday's game, Satele will have his hands full trying to cover Williams and not let him split the gaps and get to Luck.
Whenever a team faces a young quarterback, one of the defensive mantras is to bring the pressure to him. If the Vikings can accomplish that on a consistent basis without having to blitz – getting the pressure from the front four – they will be able to fluster and confuse Luck and force him into ill-advised throws. It was a plan of attack the Bears used successfully last week, resulting in not only three sacks of Luck, but three interceptions. Of all the players on the Vikings defense, the one who could make the most consistent impact is Williams. If he can get Luck on the move and uncomfortable in the pocket, the chances of Indianapolis struggling again on offense will go up significantly.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Key matchup: Williams vs. Satele
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