INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts posted a 30-27 victory at Tennessee two weeks ago in response to a 30-point home loss to St. Louis.
Indianapolis now hosts the Titans after coming off a 40-11 loss at Arizona that decreased the club’s divisional lead to two games when Tennessee won at Oakland, 23-19.
The outside buzz about the club and its recent performances goes with the business, according to Chuck Pagano.
“We know the magnitude, and we understand what the expectations are,” said Pagano. “I knew 30 years ago when I got into coaching, my dad told me what the expectations were going to be no matter what the situation is, no matter where you are.
“As coaches, we understand it. As players, they understand it. We’ve got a job to do and we’re going to work to get that job done.”
Under Pagano, the Colts never have lost consecutive games, earning an 8-0 record with an average 6.3-point victory margin when coming off defeats.
Sunday will provide a key test as Indianapolis had to rally from two 14-point first-half deficits to beat Tennessee. That was one of four recent consecutive games where the Colts have failed to lead for even one second in the first half.
The Colts have been out-scored in the opening half of those games, 93-12, with 11-of-24 drives being three-and-outs.
“We’ll turn every stone and exhaust all resources,” said Pagano. “No matter what you do, what wrinkles you throw in there, you’ve got to execute and you’ve got to do it better.”
While some outsiders look for quick fixes or drastic changes, Pagano is among many insiders who know how resurgences happen.
“You’ve got to play better. You’ve got to coach better. I’ve got to do a better job across the board,” said Pagano. “We’re not going to beat people with gimmicks. You beat people with sound football – tough, hard-nosed, physical, disciplined.
“(You) play with great fundamentals, great technique, great effort. Our guys are tough and physical. They’re going to play with great effort, (they’ve) just got to play more consistent for 60 minutes.”
If game changes are detected, they would be within the framework of practices, and Pagano is not opposed to seeking ways to trigger a bounce back.
“It’s been talked about,” said Pagano of possibly going up-tempo earlier in games. “Again, we’re going to do whatever we have to do to come out of the blocks and start fast.
“No matter who we put out there to start the game, we got to start fast. We got to play well early, and we got to play well often.”
“It starts with good meetings, and good practice,” said Luck. “Guys are excited to be back out on that field. We know we’re going to have to bring the energy and attention to detail to practice if we want to see changes on Sundays.”
Luck has prospered in every mode of operation and is open to anything Sunday could hold.
“We’re comfortable with a lot of things in this offense. If it’s no-huddle early, then we’ll make it work. If it’s not, it’s not,” said Luck. “I’m confident we’ll have a great plan from our coaches. We just have to go out there and execute it.”
Like Pagano, Luck advocates improving matters by honing past principles.
“I think it’s doing what we’ve been doing better,” said Luck. “I don’t think Coach Pagano is one to freak out and change everything on an emotional whim. That’s not his style. I don’t think that’s this team’s style. We just have to do what we do better.”
WALDEN RETURNS –
“It’s just something that happened. It cost me a game check, but most of all it cost me a game,” said Walden. “They can keep the money, I just wanted to play and be with my brothers. Not being able to come to work, that’s really what hurt the most. You learn from it, you move on and we(’re) moving on.
“You never want to put yourself or your teammates in a position like that, especially when they’re counting on me. That’s one thing we hold highly of each other is being accountable. With that, I wasn’t accountable. We’ll make sure something like that never happens again.”
PRACTICE REPORT – Did not participate: DB-