Expect Jets to Use Bills Blitz Blueprint, Colts Can Combat by ‘B.Y.O.B’


The Indianapolis Colts offense will have to expect to see much of the same defensive looks that they received from the Buffalo Bills next week on Monday Night Football against the New York Jets.

Buffalo’s blitzing blueprint worked to perfection against the Colts, as Andrew Luck was under duress and forced to make quick decisions and throws as the Bills heavily blitzed by loading the box with a number of complex looks:

Quite frankly, the Bills blitzed…blitzed…and blitzed some more:

"“The Bills, according to ESPN Stats & Information, blitzed Luck on 49 percent of his dropbacks, which is the fifth-highest total of his career,” writes ESPN’s Mike Wells courtesy of ESPN’s Stats & Information. “Luck was only 10-of-24 on those pass attempts and he took both of his sacks when Buffalo blitzed.”"

It’s worth noting that this year’s New York Jets are built a lot like their AFC East counterpart with a stingy 3-4 defense that offers creative blitzing packages. Rightfully so too, as the New York Jets are only one year removed from being Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan‘s old defense after all. 

Sep 13, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) throw a pass during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Colts 27 to 14. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Luck can have all of the weapons in the world, but it won’t make a difference if he doesn’t have the time to progress through his reads and allow his receivers to get open. Deep threats like T.Y. Hilton, Phillip Dorsett, and Donte Moncrief are of no use if they can’t actually get down the field to make a difference.

It’s not purely an issue of the Colts offensive line struggling this time around, as the Bills often simply sent more than the team’s offensive line could conceivably block in a numbers game. In fact, per ProFootballFocus (subscription), the Colts offensive line registered a +3.9 grade overall in pass blocking, which was the 3rd best in the NFL this week among all offensive lines. 

However, not only does loading the box put Luck under quick pressure, but it also forced the Colts to abandon the run prematurely last Sunday. Even with the Colts falling behind early, Frank Gore only received 8 carries on the afternoon despite yielding early positive results.

As such, head coach Chuck Pagano knows that his team has to stick with the run even with loaded defensive boxes:

"“You know like I said last night, you send the quarterback to the line of scrimmage with some options and based on the look will dictate which play you end up in,” said Pagano at a press conference Monday. “We’d like to end up in the best play possible.”"

"“Having said that, we need to have the ability to just run it,” added Pagano. “To run it. He (Frank Gore) popped some good gains and first play of the game, I think he averaged 3.9 (yards per carry average) on the few carries that he had, so we’ve got be to better there.”"

Now, how can the Colts reasonably combat 3-4 defenses from loading the box–which takes them both out of their timing passing game and from running the football?

There’s not really an easy solution, but running more screen plays and utilizing running back dump-offs to take away the aggressiveness of the pass rush by keeping them honest would be a good start:

However, the Colts can’t also abandon the running game all together due to loaded defensive fronts, as they have to maintain offensive balance:

"“Absolutely, because it’s B.Y.O.B., when they put the 8th guy in there,” said Pagano. “If you can’t get them blocked then that’s ‘be your own blocker’. You know run through them. Run them over. Run around them. Make them miss. And he’s done that for a long, long time, so we’ve got to give him (Frank Gore) and the other runners that opportunity.”"

Having seen the most stacked boxes last season with the 49ers and still rushing for over 1,000 rushing yards and a healthy 4.0+ ypc, Gore is well-familiar with the concept of Pagano’s ‘B.Y.O.B’. In fact, he’s mastered it over the course of his future Hall of Fame 11-year career.

The Colts may not be able to rush on the “perfect play” given the defense’s loaded looks, but they also handed Gore a lucrative 3-year, $12 million contract this offseason for a reason. Namely, because he has the ability to grind for yards and is a tough in-between-the-tackles rusher.

Utilizing Gore in the passing game on dump-offs and screens, as well as other receivers on designed short throws/screens could go a long way toward taking the aggressiveness and life away of an over-aggressive defensive front like the Bills or Jets.

Sep 13, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Corbin Bryant (97) tackles Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore (23) during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

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