Today’s Colts Notebook features some thoughts from Dwight Freeney, Reggie Wayne, T. Y. Hilton, Cassius Vaughn, and Interim Coach Bruce Arians. Quotes and information are provided courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts Public Relations Department.
Following up an Emotional Win
During their bye week, coming off a last second loss to the Jaguars, Colts players first learned of Coach Chuck Pagano’s leukemia diagnosis. Their world turned on end; they had to go right back to work. Many fans expected the worst in a week 5 matchup with Green Bay.
The team went down 21-3 before storming back in the second half for an emotional 30-27 victory. They did it for their coach, their fans, their families, and each other. They were ChuckStrong. The next game, however, things fell apart. Emotionally drained, Indianapolis fell 35-9 to the New York Jets.
One of the many tests the Colts face this week is to prevent such a letdown from happening again, as they look to follow up another close, emotional home victory. Offensive Coordinator/Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians addressed that very challenge and the similarity to what they faced after the Green Bay game. “It was a huge win,” Arians said. “Then to have Chuck (Pagano) in the locker room before and after the game was great.
“We have to learn from the last time we had an emotional win. We got our brains beat out. I’ll remind them of that. The short weeks are always tough on both teams, especially the one that’s traveling. We have to be able to focus, get focused on practice, meetings, extra meeting time. It’s not a physical week. It’s all a mental week.”
When asked just how they intend to avoid a letdown, Arians simply said, “Hit ‘em. That’s all we’ve talked about.”
At 1-7, the Jacksonville Jaguars look the part of a team in the midst of a rebuild, a team some might take lightly. The Colts, however, expect nothing less than a ferocious divisional opponent. “I don’t care what their record is,” said Outside Linebacker Dwight Freeney, “it’s always going to be some type of battle, some type of fight, and that’s just them. They’re tough. They’re blue collar. They work hard. Their record doesn’t always show it but it’s always a good game.”
“If we don’t get their best shot, I’ll be shocked,” said Bruce Arians. “They have a lot of pride in Jacksonville. Mike Mularkey is a hell of a coach. I’ve known him for a long time. We’re going to get everything they’ve got, both barrels. We had better be ready for it.”
Apart from their surprising record, the Colts also look like a rebuilding team – at least on paper, with a rookie quarterback and new coaching and front office staffs. When asked if both teams were rebuilding, Arians, in keeping with the message of Coach Pagano, said, “We’re not. We don’t use that word. We don’t rebuild here, we re-load, brother.”
The First Rule of a Win Streak
The Colts have now won three games in a row, beginning with their 17-13 decision over the Cleveland Browns on October 21st. In the NFL, like many sports, there is a theme among successful teams of single game focus. The Colts have some veteran leaders, but overall, they are a very young team. Despite their relative youth, they are maintaining a professional attitude toward their current win streak.
“It comes quick, real quick,” said Freeney. “You get to celebrate that victory for about two hours. Then after that, you have to get focused on the next opponent. That’s the toughest thing. You can’t overlook anybody.” Rookie Wide Receiver T. Y. Hilton added, “We just take it one game at a time and whoever is on the schedule, we just look at them.”
Veteran Receiver Reggie Wayne feels the younger players, like Hilton, already are taking the right approach to dealing with the success of a win streak and keeping the focus squarely on the next game. “I don’t tell them anything,” he said. “They’re professionals. They know what’s up. Coach Arians did a great job in the team meeting, telling them this isn’t the time to be patting themselves on the back. It’s the third quarter. We need to do in third quarter what we did in the second quarter. We need to stay focused, go out there, make plays, win games and just play Colts football. That’s all that we can do.”
A Few Good Quotes
Reggie Wayne, on if Quarterback Andrew Luck is farther along than he expected: “Me? Yeah. As far as ahead of the curve, you might want to talk to coach Arians about that,” said Wayne. “He’s done great. He’s definitely come in and helped us win the game. For the offense, he’s put us in good situations to make plays. He’s made some unbelievable throws, especially on the run. He’s used his feet well. He’s already gotten the (rookie) record. He’s doing some things well. Hopefully as receivers we can continue to make plays for him and help him out a little bit.”
Dwight Freeney, on feeling better and bringing back the spin move: “Yeah, a little something. I oiled those joints up and was able to pull a little spin move out there. I haven’t used it often this year because my ankle’s been banged up but I finally got the chance.”
Bruce Arians on the injuries and depth challenges at cornerback: “Next guy up. Darius (Butler) will play. Josh (Gordy) will go in at nickel. Marshay Green will go in at dime. I had to learn another name,” he joked. When Arians was asked if he actually did have to learn Green’s name, he said, “No, I’ve known Marshay. He’s been here for a couple of weeks. He’s a vet now; he’s been here three weeks.”
Reggie Wayne on T. Y. Hilton’s progress: “He’s doing great. He’s doing well. We need him to continue to grow and continue to get better. He’s got a lot on his plate with the special teams and things like that. Just watching him, he wants to be real good. You just want him to continue to do the things he’s supposed to do, stay in his books, knock on wood keep him healthy. He’s growing. He’s doing a real good job and hopefully he can continue to do that.”
Cornerback Cassius Vaughn on turnovers: “We know that sooner or later we are going to get the turnovers that we want. We know that the turnovers are going to come. We aren’t pressing because if you press, then you try to do too much and you give up big plays. We are just going to take it one day at a time and they are going to come.”