The decline in principle was anticipated by defensive coordinator Alan Williams. When Williams was hired, he discussed the struggles he and Eberflus endured while instilling HITS into the Colts organization. Williams said the buy-in didn’t come right away due to the intensity of demand.
Once Johnson understood the why of the principle and realized that it became the norm, his hesitation disappeared.
“If you don’t run for the ball, not too many good things are going to happen at the end of the day,” Johnson said. “There’s not really a sale. You’re going to buy into it or you won’t. And I felt like at the end of the day, if you don’t buy into it, you’re not going to play , so I mean, I felt like it wasn’t too much for sale.”
Along with improved endurance, the principle helped Johnson and his teammates see “the bright side of the race.” There’s a reason race and intensity are emphasized; it creates more opportunities for success.
Johnson said the effects of the HITS principle are easy to spot on tape. When players run harder and faster for the ball, there’s a better chance of making a big play. Seeing results this early has given players the confidence to push themselves to go even harder.
An example given by Johnson was defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga, picked six in practice Saturday.
“You saw how we finished the game when Khyiris Tonga got the interception, just things like that nobody would have run to the end zone, like finishing,” Johnson said. “As fun as it sounds, it’s a lot of energy to do. But it’s just that muscle memory of catching the ball and running. All we’re doing is ball here, running. Ball here running. All we do is just run for the ball. I mean, this quote is kinda funny but it’s real. When you really run for the ball, you can get a pass, you can get a escaped because you can never know what can really happen in a game.”