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Quicker, Simpler Defense Coming To The Colts

Even though the Colts are still waiting on a new coach, we do know the type of defense that they will play in 2018.

Zach Bolinger | Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS – It’s weird, odd and very unusual.

But the Colts know their defensive coordinator for 2018, while still searching for a new head coach.

Chris Ballard confirmed that earlier this week.

The team’s defensive coordinator in 2018 will be Matt Eberflus, with assistants Dave DeGuglilemo (offensive line) and Mike Phair (defensive line) also having their contracts honored, despite Josh McDaniels spurning the Colts at the last minute.

While the decision to hold on to Eberflus is certainly not the norm, Ballard was adamant earlier this week that the new head coaching candidates are on board with the Colts’ current plan.

So what will the Indy defense look like in 2018?

The hope is for a quicker defense, one with a simpler scheme, which should be easier for younger players to comprehend.

“We’re playing on an indoor surface,” Ballard started with in his explanation of what Eberflus will be implementing. “We’re going to be playing in ideal weather 8-12 games a year that’s going to be based on athletic ability and speed. That’s how this defense is built. It’s easy for young players to play because it’s simple and it allows them to play fast and physical and that’s what we want to be.

“So I’m excited about our defensive coordinator.”

Eberflus, who has more of a 4-3 scheme background, has coached linebackers for 9 years in the NFL, the last 7 with the Dallas Cowboys.

This will be his first coordinator stint at the NFL level.

In Dallas, Eberflus has most recently worked under veteran defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli (who also worked with Ballard in Chicago from 2010-12).

The Marinelli/Ballard connection and this new defensive philosophy is actually something fans in Indianapolis have seen before.

Think Tony Dungy defenses with how the Colts will try and look in 2018.

“In Chicago, we ran the same defense they ran here in Indy for a lot of years,” Ballard says. “I ran it for 9 years in Chicago and I believed in it. I believed in the system. Rod Marinelli is a close friend and mentor that I trust and value his opinion.

“I got to know Matt Eberflus a few years ago and was blown away by Matt. Matt was a coveted coach. He’s a very talented defensive coordinator. I feel very lucky to have Matt Eberflus in the building running a scheme that I think fits our team that we can scout for and that fits our building.”

Eberflus has experience in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, but the 4-3 look is what Dallas has run the past handful of seasons.

Any substantial switch to a 4-3 shouldn’t restrict the Colts’ current personnel too much. They have several guys in their defensive front with experience playing in both a 3-4 and 4-3 system. Of course, a few guys better suited for a 3-4 (i.e. Henry Anderson, Al Woods, Margus Hunt and John Simon) could see their roles change.

For the last 2 seasons, Eberflus also had “passing game” responsibilities for the Dallas defense.

That means he’s had some extra work in meshing together the linebacker and secondary groups on a weekly basis.

San Francisco reportedly had interest last year in Eberflus possibly coming to be their defensive coordinator, with Kyle Shanahan taking over there, before going in a different direction.

Besides Dallas, Eberflus also worked in Cleveland from 2009-10.

Eberflus played collegiately at the University of Toledo. He got his coaching start with Toledo before becoming the University of Missouri defensive coordinator from 2001-08.

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