Building the monster is no longer a campaign slogan. The Indianapolis Colts might have finally found an identity on defense.
It's written all over signs, printed on shirts and plastered on billboards all around Colts training camp: "BTM" for Build the Monster. Since his hire in 2012, coach Chuck Pagano's plan has focused heavily on the defensive side of the ball.
In 2012, the Colts had the 29th-ranked rushing defense in the NFL, giving up an average of 5.1 yards per attempt and allowing 2,200 total yards. Last season, Indianapolis surrendered 2,002 yards rushing and allowed an average of 4.5 yards per carry.
The Colts added former Browns inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson and Baltimore Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones this offseason. Jackson led the Browns last season with 141 total tackles, 75 of which were solos, and Jones compiled 53 total tackles and four sacks.
If training camp is any indication, Pagano is now seeing what he has always expected.
"We can play great defense and we will play great defense (with) the players that we've added. It's the third year in the system, from the terminology and communication standpoint, we are ahead of any place we have ever been to this point," he said. "Just watching these guys run around, communicate, be in the right spots, the plays that they're making . I've seen enough to know that if everybody just trusts the call, trusts the guy next to him and they do their job we will play good defense, we will play consistent defense."
Cory Redding is the undisputed veteran voice of the defense. In his 12th season, Redding finished 2013 with 36 tackles and 4½ sacks. Along with their veterans, the Colts are counting on third-year nose tackle Josh Chapman as the anchor in the middle.
Chapman had just 15 total tackles last season, but with Redding's guidance, he carries a clear sense of understanding what is expected this season.
"He (Redding) took me in as a young pup, learning from him and learning how to be a pro. If you want to find energy in someone you look to a Cory Redding," Chapman said. "I feel like to be a top defense overall, you have to stop the run, and I feel like we have a great front seven guys that know how to set the edge and play the 3-4 (defense) and great backers behind us.
"Being a nose guard, keeping those guys clean and being that wrecking ball (is my job)."
Redding, a product of Pagano's defense during his time as a coordinator in Baltimore, embodies the idealism of BTM. Along with Pagano, he is a large part of why the Colts' defense will be an entirely different unit on Sept. 7.
For now, Indianapolis will use the remainder of training camp to buy into what building the monster is all about.
"It's all about being accountable for one another," Redding said. "knowing that whatever I'm going to do is in the best interest of the guys behind me and making sure they're going to make the tackles and play for one another."