Creative coach has crafted versatile unit

When you walk into the Indianapolis Colts' facilities and into the meeting room often used by defensive line coach John Teerlinck, there hangs a large picture of a cheetah chasing down an impala. That tells you everything you need to know about his philosophy for the Colts' defensive line.

I've known Teerlinck for 25 years, and it's evident after watching film of the Colts that he has the same philosophy and approach now that he had at Illinois in 1980. He is the premier coach for teaching the pass rush, and the stats show it: The Colts have a league-best 31 sacks, and 29 of those have come from the front four. Teerlinck's basic philosophy is that every down is a passing down, and the stats also reflect that: The Colts had 42 sacks in 2004, 14 on first down, 14 on second down and 14 on third down.

Except for Corey Simon -- who looks at least 40 pounds heavier than his listed 293 pounds -- this is a small, quick, penetrating defensive line. Teerlinck uses a six-man rotation, and he likes all of them to be interchangeable. Because the coach runs so many stunts, twists and loops (the Colts have more than 100 variations), the linemen need to be athletic and have great motors. Ideally, Teerlinck likes his guys to go as hard as they can for four plays, then be substituted for, much like with a hockey line.