Suddenly, size matters on the Indianapolis Colts' defense.
For nearly a decade, the Colts had one of the fastest and smallest defenses in football, a perfect fit for Tony Dungy's Tampa 2 system. New coach Chuck Pagano has brought in a different philosophy.
He ditched the traditional 4-3 alignment in favor of a 3-4 hybrid system that requires bigger defensive linemen and a new aggressive approach to force opponents into mistakes, and players like what they're seeing.
''We brought in some guys and the first day I saw them, I was like `Gosh, how much do you weigh?' I think they said like 330, 340, something like that,'' cornerback Jerraud Powers said. ''They probably have not had a d-tackle that big in a long time around here. I'm just glad that once we get in warm-ups, we'll look as big as the teams we're playing.''
The Colts (No. 32 in AP Pro32) needed a change after last season's 2-14 disaster.
Indy's defense allowed 430 points, the fifth-highest total in the league and the fourth-most in franchise history. Opponents ran for a staggering 2,303 yards.
There were more problems defending the pass. Opposing quarterbacks completed a league-record 71.2 percent of their attempts and piled up a mind-numbing rating of 103.2, the sixth-worst in NFL history. Even worse, Indy and Minnesota tied for the league-low in interceptions (8).
Players who watched from afar last year think the numbers made an abysmal season look even worse.
''I always remember them wreaking havoc and doing damage to our offense during the regular season, and in the postseason (2009) I remember how fast they were,'' said new Colts safety Tom Zbikowski, who spent the past four seasons with Baltimore. ''But I always knew that defense was way, way, way underrated as a unit.''
For Colts' fans who have long complained the defense was too small to stop the run, Sunday's preseason opener against St. Louis will be a fresh start.
Pagano's plan is to confuse the offense with schemes that remain relatively simple for the defense.
It does work.