Andrew Luck gets his first look at an NFL 3-4 defense this Sunday.
“Disguise is going to be important, so you don’t want to give him a lot of pre-snap looks. You want to make a young guy think on the move,” Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said.
In a matchup of a rookie quarterback who is the No. 1 pick of this year’s draft, and a veteran coordinator who’s written the book on the zone-blitz and how to disguise it, Luck and Capers will match wits at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. Luck will be armed with his offensive coordinator, Bruce Arians. Capers will have Clay Matthews at his side.
“His coordinator is very familiar with this defense,” Capers said of Arians, several years the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh, long considered to be the epicenter of the 3-4 defense. “He’ll have a specific plan in mind. That’ll be a real asset to Luck.”
Capers will move Matthews and his seven sacks around the “dance” floor, forcing Luck to find Matthews and adjust the play accordingly. The intent will be to make Luck think more about where Matthews is than where Luck’s receivers are.
“When he gets one-on-one situations, the percentages are pretty good,” Capers said of Matthews.
“When you have the 3-4 and you bring the outside backers, it puts a lot of pressure on offenses to block those guys because you’re not going to want to put backs on them. Now you’re usually singled up across the board, so it should free somebody up to be a disruptive force,” Arians said of the unique challenge the 3-4 poses.
Luck, however, isn’t your typical rookie quarterback. He displayed superior command of a pro-style offense at Stanford. Some have compared Luck’s grasp of offense to that of the man he replaced in Indianapolis, Peyton Manning.
“He’s a pretty darn good rookie quarterback. He’s a good athlete, can make all of the throws. They’ve got some young speed in their receivers,” Capers said.
Through the first four games of the season, the Packers defense has hit highs and lows. It hit both in last Sunday’s win over the Saints, allowing 474 yards and a nine-of-17 conversion rate on third down, but holding firm on six plays from within the 11-yard line.
What’s the next step for a Packers defense that plays as many as five rookies at one time?
“Just the consistency in making people earn yardage. The first three games, we were excellent on third down. You can’t give up an 80-yard play for a touchdown. You have to make people work. That’s the next step,” Capers said.
The Colts are coming off a bye week, but they’re also fresh off the news that their head coach, Chuck Pagano, is battling leukemia. Arians is doubling as the Colts’ interim head coach.
“I’m sure he’s talking about not turning the ball over,” Capers said of Arians. Luck has thrown four interceptions in three games.
“They had a bye week, so I think we’ll see some things they’ve had a chance to work on. The Colts have had two weeks to work on the things we’ve done,” Capers added.
Arians is challenging the Colts’ fans, as well as the Colts.
“The one thing that I would like to say is this is a very special week for a lot of reasons. Having been against the Packers, I know how their fans travel and in no way can they come into Lucas Oil this week and take over our stadium. I’m challenging our fans, especially this week, because it’s kind of a unique, special thing. That cannot happen. They need to be at an all-time high for Chuck and for the team. We cannot allow the cheeseheads to come in here and take over,” Arians said. Additional coverage - Oct. 5