We have a very quote-heavy Colts Notebook today. Bruce Arians and several players spoke with the media following the Colts’ exciting 23-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins. We have a few highlights, with quotes and information courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts Public Relations Department.
Andrew Luck’s Impressive Day and “Chunk Plays”
Andrew Luck broke the rookie record for most passing yards in a game and tied Peyton Manning’s record for most 300 yard passing games by a rookie. It was a truly remarkable game against a very stout Miami defense. The rookie quarterback was highly productive as well as efficient, completing 30 of 48 passes for 433 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He was also 13 of 16 on third down passes.
Offensive Coordinator/Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians spoke about Luck’s improvement and his third down success. “Well, he finally hit a deep ball,” he began. “We’ve been close, we’ve been underthrowing and overthrowing but we hit a big one today, two of them. Those chunks, we talked all week about needing chunks against this defense. It was going to be tough to go 85 yards in a clip, they’re too good. We needed chunk plays.
“We got a bunch of chunk plays, that and converting third down,” Arians continued. “His third down percentage the last couple ball games have been out of sight. That’s what we need. We need him out there chasing Ben (Roethlisberger) for that completion percentage record on third down. Early in the season, we weren’t there quite enough. We were missing our chunk plays. We’re now running the play action well enough when we want to run to be able to set up the play action, and he’s starting to hit them.”
Luck was also able to use his strength physical ability to turn some potentially negative plays, including two that looked like sure sacks, into positive ones. “You can’t really describe all his physical, he’s got a ton of physical attributes,” said Arians. “He’s a big strong kid. Like I said, his eyes are always downfield. He knows where the guys are, so if they’re draped on him, he’s strong enough and accurate enough still to get it to them. A couple of those were big-time plays near the end there.”
“That kid just continues to amaze,” added Wide Receiver Reggie Wayne. “He has a really bright, bright future. Hopefully I can help add on to this legacy that he’s about to build. I was happy for him, man. He took control of the game as he always does. Like we’ve been saying all year, no panic, no pressure.”
The Record that Matters
While Luck’s record-setting individual performance was undeniably memorable, the record that matters to the Colts coaches and players is the win-loss column, and then it’s on to the next game.
Bruce Arians touched on the record and the team’s focus in his opening statement. “I’ll let you guys write about records and all those things but the only record we care about is our wins and losses,” said Arians. “That was a big win for us. We’ve got a very short week to get ready for Jacksonville, another division opponent on Thursday night. We’ll see who is healthy enough to go down there and play.”
Arians was asked whether Head Coach Chuck Pagano received a game ball. “No he didn’t want one,” he answered. “He got his game ball on that scoreboard.”
Pagano Addresses the Team
As many found out Sunday, Chuck Pagano surprised the team by showing up in the locker room before and after the game to deliver an inspiring speech. Pagano, who is still being treated for leukemia, has been able to watch the past two straight victories from home. Then Sunday, as he prepares for his next round of chemotherapy, he was able to watch from Lucas Oil Stadium as his Colts won their third game in a row.
Bruce Arians was asked about what Pagano said to the team before the game. “Just the ride we’re on,” Arians said. “It was a very personal message to the team. Circumstances are what they are, you’ve got to make the best of them and you’ve got to fight. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.”
Several players also answered questions about Pagano addressing the team. Because it made such an impact on the players, we have a little something from just about everyone who addressed Pagano’s visit.
Safety Antoine Bethea: “It was most definitely a surprise to see him (Chuck Pagano) in the locker room before we went out. I’ve been getting texts back and forth throughout the weeks but to see him in good spirits, to see him here and to be able to play in front of him as a team, it was real good. To get the win is big for this team.”
Bethea was also asked about if Pagano had a specific message. “Like he always said since he first got here, it’s about family. Family, trust, and loyalty,” he said. “Obviously, him talking, you can tell it’s a very family-oriented feel in this locker room. When we have that, we can go out on the field and play for one another. It feels great.”
Inside Linebacker Jerrell Freeman: “He came before the game and then he came right after the game. We were down but we definitely had to keep fighting. When you see a guy like that, that is fighting, scraping just for his life, the least we can do is go out there and just go fight, fight the whole game, all 60 minutes and that’s exactly what we did.”
Outside Linebacker Dwight Freeney: “It means a lot. He brings so much emotion. We love him so much. Like I said, we are all family. When something happens to one, it affects everybody. To see him here, that tells you that he’s doing a lot better. The fight’s not over yet. For him to come out here shows you that he’s a lot better.”
Reggie Wayne: “We know as a team probably his best medicine is to continue to win. So we just want to continue to go out there and win games for him and make him proud.”
Safety Tom Zbikowski: “I was just taking it in, him just being there. Where we’ve come from, the struggle, for him and this team, to just overcome anything that’s thrown in our way and to still be standing strong, to still be fighting another day, just to be in the thick of the things.”
Center A. Q. Shipley: “I get choked up even hearing coach (Pagano). He’s a special guy to all of us. It meant the world just to see him, let alone him speak to us today. It was an awesome, awesome, awesome thing.”
Andrew Luck gave a very heartfelt account of Pagano’s visit as well. “I don’t think I heard the first couple of sentences that came out of his mouth,” Luck said. “I was just excited to see him there and then I started listening because that’s the head coach talking.
“He spoke on circumstances as opposed to a vision. Making sure we don’t get down by circumstances whether it’s our head coach dealing with his circumstances or injured, but realizing your potential, understanding the vision, trying to get wins and going out there and doing it.”