Yes, the title changed today. Bonus points if you know what movie it's from (and, don't worry, this writer doesn't condone anything that was said in that movie).
The Colts Notebook is back. Today, we’ll talk about the epitome of the anti-rebuild mindset, pass protection, playing the starters, and the potential end of the Dwight Freeney Era in Indy. As usual, all quotes come from the Indianapolis Colts PR Department. Here we go:
The Win Now Mentality Continues
During Wednesday’s media session, Chuck Pagano, while talking about Andrew Luck and other players being worn down, said, “I’m the only guy that had a little bounce in their step this morning because I’ve been lying around for three months and I’ve had plenty of coffee.”
When he was asked about Pagano’s tongue-in-cheek statement, Antoine Bethea ended up revealing a little something extra about the kind of mindset the coach has instilled in this young Colts team. “Yeah (laughs). That’s what he said earlier, ‘I’ve got a little bit of step with laying around.’ We’ve been out there but like I said, it’s just good to have him back, laughing, joking and cracking jokes. It’s just good to have him back there. Of course, at the end of the year, guys are banged up now but we’ve got to fight through that and go out here and get that ring and bring another ring back to Indy.”
I suppose any team with 10 wins should have that kind of confidence. These players don’t just believe they can win now. They want to win it all, and, while statistics indicate that they’re simply not contender yet, Bethea’s statement underscores the level of belief these players have in themselves and their teammates. As they have said from the beginning, in their eyes, this is not a rebuild, and their stubborn adherence to that mentality has led the 2012 Colts to 10 wins and a trip to the playoffs, making them the first team ever to enter the postseason with a rookie number one draft pick under center.
“We don’t have time to wait three or four years down the line,” added Reggie Wayne. “We got to win now. We got to do it now. This is a great start to this young ball team and hopefully the sky is the limit for us. Hopefully we can continue this great storybook and have a great ending too.”
The more likely ending involves a young team gaining the valuable experience of a playoff game in a hostile environment, and then perhaps coming of age next season after an influx of added talent at some key positions. Then again, most of us thought they would be picking near the top of next year’s draft. These Colts have proven for several months that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. They are here to win, and win right now.
If the Colts are to punctuate their magical season with a home win over the Houston Texans this weekend, they will need to take care of some of their protection problems, particularly against J.J. Watt. Luck was sacked 5 times in his first outing against the Texans, three of which were courtesy of Watt, and he rarely had much if any time to work in the pocket against Kansas City last week.
According to TE Dwayne Allen, now that they have faced the relentless Watt and can watch film of what happened, they can correct some of their mistakes. “There were a lot of techniques problems, a lot of little things that we weren’t mindful of and he was able to exploit. So working on the little things this week is going to be important,” Allen said. “Yeah, that’s the simple approach,” Guard Mike McGlynn added. “We have some different schemes for him and hopefully it works out.”
“Hopefully, we can keep him a little cleaner this week, not give him so many shots,” Reggie Wayne said of Luck. “We want, his career, we want longevity. We don’t want it to end early so we got to keep him clean, keep guys off him and hopefully we can be successful this week.”
The Starters Will Play
We learned yesterday that Pagano and his staff plan to play everyone who is healthy on Sunday. They will not be treating their week 17 matchup, which will not affect the playoff seeding, as a sort of preseason-like game.
Seriously, though, does Chuck Pagano seem like the type of guy who would pull the plug on his starters to finish the season, no matter how little it might mean in the standings? Not really, in hindsight, anyway. So, was it a difficult decision, fraught with uncertainty and agonizing over pros and cons? “We knew exactly what we were going to do,” Pagano said. “It was a layup.”
A layup. Whether you agree or disagree with the plan, you have to admire the head coach’s unabashed decisiveness on the matter. After several years of resting on the sideline after locking up their playoff seed, a couple veteran players made it abundantly clear how they felt about playing to win on Sunday. “I’m all for it,” Reggie Wayne said. “That’s what I signed up for, didn’t expect it no other way.” Dwight Freeney added, “As players, I know for me definitely it’s to stay sharp and I don’t have a problem playing to stay sharp. You are risking getting hurt but that’s just part of the nature of this game.”
A Few More Quotes
Freeney on the possibility of Sunday being his last home game as a Colt: “I guess maybe a little bit when I get there. You really don’t know. This could be it. We’ll see what happens for me and my career later and what they decide to do. Those are all business decisions for both of us. But yeah, I think the later in your career, the older you get and especially when your contract is what it is, you have to sit there and say, ‘Hey this might be it, man.’ Just take in as much as you can take in.”
Whether or not he comes back next year (and he may wish to go to a team he feels is a better schematic fit), it’s quite reasonable to expect to see Freeney return someday for an induction into the Ring of Honor.
McGlynn on having Chuck Pagano back: “Yeah, I think Chuck (Pagano) gave us a little boost of energy. Being late in the season, everybody is kind of beat up dealing with the season but having him back has kind of upped our energy for sure.”
Chuck Pagano, discussing the support he received from Indianapolis during his treatment for leukemia: “It was unbelievable, very humbling. Like I said in my press conference, if you’re going to have to go through something that me and my family had to go through there is no better place than Indianapolis. If you’re going to get sick this is the place to get sick. What it revealed to me is what great people we have not only in this organization, the support that I got from the owner Mr. Irsay on down. Just the way this city supported me and my family was incredible for them to embrace somebody that they hardly know, it’s very, very humbling the way that they did. That just tells you the kind of people that there are in this great state and the city of Indianapolis. It’s unbelievable hard working men and women. I can’t thank them, obviously, enough for all that they did for me.”
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