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Notebook: Blueprint for Success Achieved and Next Men Up Everywhere

Posted Dec 23, 2013

Intro: The Colts/Chiefs Notebook looks at the Colts winning in a style needed this time of year and the multitude of “Next Men Up” in action during Sunday’s 23-7 win over the Kansas City.



Colts Blueprint on Full Display— Since Chuck Pagano took over as the Colts head coach in January of 2012, he talked about the need to play a physical brand of football.

It’s that brand that frequently wins during the latter months of the season.

Pop in Sunday’s game film and you will see a disciplined, physical approach from the Colts.

In winning the turnover battle 4-0, the Colts did something to the Chiefs that no one has been able to do all season long.

Kansas City came into Week 16 leading the league in turnover margin and tied with the Colts in committing just 14 turnovers all year.

The Colts forced four Chiefs turnovers on Sunday, playing a pivotal role in beating yet another playoff team.

“I think any time you can come in and play the type of game we played against a playoff team, this team in a hostile environment with the elements as they were, it speaks to the character of our football team, of our players,” head coach Chuck Pagano said after the game.

“They stick to the process and stay focused on that process. That means preparing week in and week out, not getting ahead of ourselves, staying humble, staying grounded, just try to come in every day to get better individually and collectively as position units and as a team. To be able to come on the road, in this environment, and win a game like this is very positive for all of us.”

Since 2000, the Colts are an NFL-best 44-3 when committing zero turnovers in a game,

Sunday was the prime example of what this Colts team can do in an environment they will definitely face if they want to be playing the first week of February.

The Chiefs had scored 101 combined points in the last two weeks coming into Sunday, but it was the Colts playing keep away with a time of possession longer than nine minutes in all four quarters.

The Colts averaged 4.0 yards per carry on their 34 rush attempts, moving their record to 13-0 under Chuck Pagano when rushing at least 30 times.

The theme of momentum was rampant throughout the Colts post game locker room in trying to build something that will hopefully not be complete until early February.

“Every outing you have like this, you can just see them feeding off of each other,” Pagano said. “As the game went along, they got stronger. They are doing a great job right now in all three phases.”

Next Man Up All Over the Field—Six of the seven Colts inactive spots were filled out Saturday afternoon.

In a week the Colts had their longest injury list of 2013, it was Next Men Up all over the field on Sunday.

Up front the Colts used their seventh different offensive line group, which ranks as the most in the NFL.

Rookie tackle Xavier Nixon had to slide to left guard with Jeff Linkenbach, Joe Reitz and Hugh Thornton all dealing with injuries.

The group was effective all day long as the Colts run game averaged 4.0 yards per carry and Andrew Luck was sacked just once against an aggressive front.

“Those guys have done a great job,” Pagano said of the line. “Coach (Joe) Gilbert and Frank Giufre do a tremendous job with those guys. They’ve got a lot of pride in what they do.

“It doesn’t matter right now because of versatility and guys bouncing around, Mike [McGlynn] being able to play center when he played guard, getting Samson [Satele] back, a young guy like Xavier Nixon coming in and doing the job that he is doing, filling in for those other guys, so a tremendous job, not to mention bringing Thomas Austin up for today’s game.”

Some other interesting notes of Next Men Up are as followed:

-Trent Richardson played 47 offensive snaps and had 16 carries for 43 yards as Donald Brown (25 snaps) was dealing with a stinger injury.

-Veteran defensive end Fili Moala filled in for Ricky Jean Francois and had three tackles and a fumble recovery on Sunday.

-At inside linebacker, Josh McNary played the most snaps (34) compared to Kavell Conner and Kelvin Sheppard. McNary had three tackles in place of Pat Angerer.

-Lastly, there was Griff Whalen playing the most snaps of any receiver (56) and leading the Colts with seven catches for 80 yards on eight targets.

“(Whalen) did a heck of a job," Pagano said. "He’s a guy that is a tireless worker; he is accountable. There’s obviously a trust factor with the quarterback, going back to their college days. He’s one of those guys we’ve had up, back down, then back up again; he works at his craft. He practices extremely hard, probably harder than he plays the game.

“It’s not a surprise to see Griff making the plays that he makes because we see it all the time in practice. He did a phenomenal job for the second week in a row, he got first downs for us, made some clutch catches, made guys miss in the open field, got yards after contact, so he did a great job.”

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