The Indianapolis Colts are a surprising 6-4 with a rookie quarterback and a new coaching staff, and they've gone about it in an unconventional way, via the deep ball. Through 10 games the Colts lead the league in completions of 20 yards or more with 45, good for 4.5 per game. It has made Buffalo's defenders stand up and take notice.
"They're a team that likes to hit big plays," said Mario Williams. "Whenever they throw the ball a lot of times its deep and they're getting huge chunks of yardage and being able to put points on the board."
Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck has had a lot put on his plate, especially with a Colts' run game that's hovered around the middle of the pack in the NFL. Indianapolis throws almost 60 percent of the time and Luck has the third-most pass attempts this season with 412 logging more than 40 throws per game.
But Luck likes taking shots down the field with regularity each and every week.
(Interim head) coach (Bruce) Arians puts the offense in a great position," said Luck. "He's a great play caller, he's got a great feel for the game. There's some really neat things, and wide receivers and linemen do a great job—wide receivers running their routes, understanding that it could come to them at any moment, and the line just blocking their butts off."
"He's going to come out with all types of throws," said Leodis McKelvin. "His best is getting it outside and making throws. He's going to push the ball downfield, that' the most important thing he really does."
Buffalo stands 16th in the league at defending big pass plays. They've given up 29 thus far this season and with their front four steadily improving the past three weeks, the Bills believe they can keep big plays to a minimum.
"If he wants to go deep it's going to give us more opportunity to rush the passer," said Williams. "It gives us more time and the biggest thing for us is to stay after it because he's going to hold it and try to get that read and get that ball down there."
Buffalo's defenders were encouraged by what they saw on tape when Luck faced the Patriots last week. He threw three interceptions and lost a fumble.
"If you put pressure on him with the D-line he's shown he can throw interceptions," McKelvin said. "You've got to be able to push the pocket from the inside and keep him contained and contain him inside the pocket and force him to make bad throws."
They also know that Luck tends to play better at home with eight touchdowns against just two interceptions and a passer rating of 88.6. But he hasn't been conservative by any means even when he sees tight coverage.
"Even if guys are covered or not he's going to give his receivers chances to make catches downfield," said McKelvin.
"He can throw the deep ball better than anybody," said Marcell Dareus of Luck. "I think he likes it that way, to be back there just slinging the rock and just have fun with it. He's strong as hell in the pocket. It's not going to be easy bringing him down. They've got somebody back there who can make things happen on his own. You have to take that into consideration."