EAGLES’ FOLES MAY BE RUNNING FOR HIS LIFE AGAINST COLTS

By Michael McCarthy

The Colts lost their opener against the Denver Broncos, 31-24, and they couldn’t get to quarterback Peyton Manning, who is not known for his mobility.

So, the Eagles’ Nick Foles figures to have a target on his back Monday night in Indy.

The Eagles’ high-tempo offense features a number of quick throws and screen passes, both of which help neutralize opponents’ pass rush. But when quarterback Foles does take 5- or 7-step drops, look for the Colts to continue with their steady stream of blitzes in an effort to get pressure.

The Colts dialed up blitzes on 40 percent of the Broncos’ pass attempts last Sunday according to Pro Football Focus. That’s well above the NFL average of 28.7 percent, and a reflection of the lengths Indianapolis is going to in order to generate a pass rush without suspended and injured linebacker Robert Mathis.

The Colts would love to see second-year outside linebacker Bjoern Werner start to get to the quarterback more often. But unless they start to win some one-on-one matchups at the point of attack, the Colts will resort to blitzes.

That creates a whole new set of challenges, though. If those blitzing defenders don’t reach the quarterback, you get one-on-one matchups in the secondary and larger windows for quarterbacks to throw into.

“Your coverage and the pressure you put on the quarterback,” defensive coordinator Greg Manusky told the Indianapolis Star, “it’s got to go hand in hand. You’ve got to give him just enough time where he doesn’t see that window and he doesn’t see that guy getting separation from the (defensive back).”

Fullback Mario Harvey changed his number from 49 to 55 this week, suggesting the team is considering using him as a linebacker again. Harvey, who was moved from linebacker to fullback in the offseason, has seen little activity at the position. In fact, he had exactly zero snaps at fullback in the season opener.

That is an indication of something bigger: That the Colts are moving steadily away from utilizing a fullback at all. Look for tight end Dwayne Allen to continue to occasionally line up in the backfield as a lead blocker.

“He can still play fullback,” coach Chuck Pagano told the Star. “He’s just got to report (to the referee) now. When he had 49, he didn’t have to do anything. At least now if we want to play him on defense, we can play him on defense.”

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