Indianapolis Colts 2006 Super Bowl team could still be teaching us lessons

The Indianapolis Colts 2006 Super Bowl team was one of my fondest memories and could still be teaching us lessons on how to build a team.
Super Bowl XLI: Indianapolis Colts v Chicago Bears
Super Bowl XLI: Indianapolis Colts v Chicago Bears / Jed Jacobsohn/GettyImages
3 of 3

Defensive lessons to learn from 2006 Colts

The Colts defense wasn’t full of stars, outside of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. A case could be made for Bob Sanders and Antoine Bethea, but largely, the team was set up to rush the passer after putting up 30 points.

The Colts rushing defense was atrocious and was last in the league that season, giving up 173 rushing yards a game. Jacksonville's Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for over 300 yards combined in one game against the Colts defense and embarrased them. However, the team pulled it together in the playoffs and clamped down on Larry Johnson who everyone thought would absolutely destroy the Colts defense.

In the absence of Bob Sanders the Colts couldn't stop the run. However when he was in there, the team somehow turned into the 2000 Ravens defense. In an era of stiff defenses like the Ravens, Steelers, Giants, and to a lesser extent, Texans, the NFL was largely a run-stopping, blitz-happy league at this point. The 3-4 defense was made popular by the Bill Cowher led Steelers.

The Colts chose to ignore defense and build around their star quarterback which worked well for the regular season against lesser teams, but then struggled against the playoff teams. Indy constantly were going 14-2 and 13-3 leading to early exits in many years. The Colts teams and Peyton Manning were named "The Greatest Regular Season Team" and this was largely correct. Manning was breaking records left and right but the defense couldn't stop a nose bleed in the playoffs and despite the regular season success, Manning and the offense would melt to tough defenses in the playoffs.

The lessons we learned from this defense were that no matter how bad you are in the regular season, you can always play better in the Playoffs since you are now 0-0, and going 0-1 is not an option for success. The Colts defense smothered opposing quarterbacks and this is somthing the Colts are sorely lacking. Gus Bradley’s coverage scheme has been easy to pick apart and the Colts defensive line also struggled as they had a bad blitz percentage on the season, leading to many games where the opposing team abandoned the run to put up 14 points in the 4th quarter to win the game.

In the end, the 2006 Colts are still responsible for one of the best years of my life. Not only did I graduate high school, I met my now wife and asked her to marry me, I got my first job in the field I'm in now, and I got to watch who I think is the greatest player to play the quarterback position take the monkey off his back about winning the Super Bowl. Although this quelled the question for one year, two years later the questions were being asked again as the Saints beat the Colts and then in 2014 the Seahawks and the Legion of Boom shut down the best offense of all time led by Manning.

2006 will always be one of my favorite years and I look forward to Anthony Richardson and Shane Steichen raising the Lombardi Trophy once again for Indianapolis.