The Washington Redskins on Sunday will be faced with a defense that head coach Jay Gruden calls the "Jekyll and Hyde of the NFL right now."
Currently sitting at 7-4 and atop the AFC South, the Indianapolis Colts have seen inconsistent play from their defense as the season wears on.
After giving up a mere 135 yards of total offense is a Week 3 shutout against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Colts allowed a combined 1,142 total yards and 93 points in losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 4) and the New England Patriots (Week 6).
It's that kind of inconsistency that gives head coach Jay Gruden confidence his squad has the capability to pick up its fourth win of the season Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"I've seen them play at a high level against the Bengals, then they just gave up a few big plays [against Pittsburgh]," Gruden said. "If the quarterbacks are on-point and they can throw some great touch balls, accurate balls, you have a chance to get some big plays on them."
Earlier this week, Jay Gruden tabbed Colt McCoy his starter at quarterback for Sunday's game against the Colts. Gruden said that McCoy — who is already 1-0 in the starter role this season with a road win over the Dallas Cowboys — just needs to remember to remain calm when the ball is snapped.
"He's got to keep his poise," Gruden said. "You've just got to calm down, play with great poise and play within himself in the system, and I think good things will happen."
When McCoy looks across the line of scrimmage, he'll be face-to-face with a player that the Redskins are all too familiar with.
Washington selected LaRon Landry sixth overall out of LSU in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft. After five seasons wearing the burgundy and gold and one season with the New York Jets, he's found a home in the defensive backfield for the Colts.
When he takes the field to play his former team this Sunday, he enters the contest with 29 combined tackles and 2.5 sacks on the year. While Gruden may not have been in Washington when Landry was, he's well aware of the playmaker that he is.
"LaRon's a proven NFL player," he said. "He's a very physical guy. He's good when they bring him in the box and stop the run and all that stuff, but he's also pretty adequate in pass coverage. He's one of those safeties who knows the system, and does a nice job for them."
Along with Landry, the Colts defense is led by D'Qwell Jackson with a team-high 94 total tackles, including four sacks, tying him with Bjoern Werner for the most on the team. In the secondary, safety Mike Adams leads the way with four interceptions and nine pass deflections.
A look back at some of the top images in games between the Washington Redskins and Indianapolis Colts.
On the season, the Colts have forced 19 turnovers, 10 of which have been via fumble recovery, tying them for second-most in the NFL. Redskins fullback Darrel Young said protecting the football will be a must Sunday against an opportunistic Colts defense.
"[I see] guys who are flying around, making plays, causing a lot of turnovers," Young said. "D'Qwell Jackson is one of the best and he's the star guy there. They got guys flying around making plays and that's the NFL."
Schematically, Redskins running back Roy Helu Jr. said his team expects pressure, and lots of it. Not only do they believe Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky will blitz early and often, but also in a plethora of ways.
"They have unique blitz packages," Helu Jr. said. "They blitz a lot of guys, a lot of different patterns of guys who actually blitz. They're a solid defense."
To neutralize their attack, Helu Jr. believes that getting the running game going is the way to go. As of late, that is one area with the Redskins' offense has excelled.
Since rushing for 29 yards in the Redskins' Week 5 Monday Night Football matchup with the Seattle Seahawks, Alfred Morris has only gotten stronger. In the six games since, his yards-per-carry and yards-per-game averages have been significantly on the rise.
Last Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, Morris rushed for a season-high 125 yards on 21 carries with one touchdown. Helu Jr. believes that utilizing a strong running game and being balanced will be one eay Washington's offensive unit will find success on Sunday.
"We're hoping on getting on our P's and Q's when they have their blitz packages," Helu Jr. said. "Hopefully we can run the ball well. That'll keep them off balance."
Likewise, offensive coordinator Sean McVay believes that getting the running game going early should only open up the rest of the offense.
"I think anytime that you're able to do some things well, it opens everything else up off of it," McVay said. "Anytime you're playing against a good solid front like Indianapolis is, you want to be able to run the football and try to see if it opens up some things in the pass game for you."