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Week Six Preview: Indianapolis Colts @ San Diego Chargers

Posted Oct 11, 2013

Intro: For the first time since 2011, the Colts (4-1) will play on Monday Night Football. The San Diego Chargers (2-3) will welcome the Colts to Qualcom Stadium for an 8:40 p.m. EST kickoff.



INDIANAPOLIS – It might not hold the same intensity level of the Patriots rivalry but the Colts and Chargers have had their share of climatic games over the past decade.

The next edition comes on Monday Night Football this week with the turnover on both teams providing a much different look than what fans are used to.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has played a major role in many of the Chargers/Colts recent matchups and he acknowledges the new faces.

“Obviously there’s some veterans that have been there a long time when you think about (Robert) Mathis and (Antoine) Bethea, but I don’t know that there’s anything to the old having their number or anything like that. They’ve all been great games,” Rivers said earlier this week.

For Rivers, he is adapting quite well to a new head coach and hurry-up offensive system.

In the last two weeks, Rivers set a franchise record with back-to-back 400-yard passing games and is second in the NFL with a 73.7 percent completion rate.

“From the first day we were here with Philip, he wanted to know more,” Charges head coach Mike McCoy said on Thursday. “It was not a matter of just this is the basic. Well what’s the next step, what’s the next option I have? Can I change this protection here? Can we change the backside combination routes?

“He’s done great with the coaches and Philip has done a great job sitting down and it’s going to expand even more as the season goes on.”

One interesting storyline that did not come to fruition this week is Dwight Freeney playing against his former team.

Freeney, who is the Colts franchise leading sacker, suffered a season ending injury a few weeks back.

Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis is disappointed, kind of, that his fellow sack artist won’t be suiting it up on Monday night.

“As a friend, I’m extremely bummed. As a competitor, not that bummed because he won’t get a chance to hit my quarterback (laughs),” Mathis said with a smile.

That quarterback is Andrew Luck and the Colts second-year signal caller will be making his first of what could very well be many Monday Night Football appearances.

Luck has fond memories of watching Monday Night Football as a young kid and he’s anxious to experience it first-hand.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun. Obviously, Monday Night Football has a ring to it, a feel about it,” Luck said earlier this week.

“I remember as a kid, always wanting to stay up to watch the second half and being told I had to go to bed. So I hope my Mom lets my brother stay up and watch the second half. It’ll be exciting.”

Monday night will be the beginning of four primetime games in the Colts next five contests.

This week the Colts have continued to gain national attention and the next step for this team is sustaining a successful start to the season with outside expectations growing.

“We’ve been put to a test with a lot of different situations, whether it be in the spotlight, big time games, or just tough situations with adversity amongst ourselves,” Cory Redding says.

“With the veterans we have on this squad, keep our young guys very equipped and better prepared for whatever lies ahead of us. We just rely on that. We’re going to tell the guys what this game is all about, what it means, don’t buy into everything, stay even-keeled, stay where we’re at, and let’s just play ball.”

INTERESTING MATCHUPS


Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers versus the Colts defense:
Fresh off a franchise record back-to-back 400-yard passing games, Philip Rivers will now encounter a Colts secondary that has played very well in 2013. Rivers has 1,610 passing yards in 2013 and that’s without two of his top three receivers. How the Colts matchup with Antonio Gates will be something to keep an eye on. Could LaRon Landry make his return and be that guy?

Colts running back Trent Richardson versus the Chargers front seven:
Last year, Trent Richardson ran for a career-high 122 rushing yards against the Chargers. He’s looking for another breakout performance in a different uniform on Monday night. Richardson could have Stanley Havili back blocking for him this weekend and is going up against a rush defense that has struggled in 2013.

Quick Facts


-The Colts are one of just three teams in the NFL to rank in the top 10 of both points scored (sixth) and points allowed (fifth).

-The Colts have compiled 15 10-play drives in 2013, which ranks fourth in the NFL.

-Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne needs four receptions to become the ninth player in NFL history with 1,000 career receptions.

-Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is second in the NFL with a 73.7 completion percentage.

-Chargers running back Danny Woodhaed leads all NFL running backs with 31 catches.

-Since 2003, Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has 85 touchdowns which is the most among tight ends.

NOTABLE QUOTES

Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano
(on if it’s normal for Andrew Luck to have the pocket presence that he has):

-“I think he’s had it. Some have it. Some don’t. I think he’s had it since day one. If you look at the body of work from last year and then what he’s done this year, what he did down the stretch last week. You spin out and you’re getting hit right here and you throw the ball to T.Y. (Hilton) right over the middle. Good lord gave him something that he didn’t give you or I, to be honest with you.”

Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano
(on where he has seen T.Y. Hilton make his biggest development this season):

-“I go back to the very first tape that I saw on him when we were evaluating him. I think they were playing Louisville and the first three times he touched the ball, I think he went 50, 65 and 70 yards. He’s improved in every area, to be honest with you; his route running. Certainly, again, the good Lord blessed him with great speed and ball skills. His ball skills have gotten better. You can speak on that, I think we could all speak on that. He’s a pretty consistent pass catcher. But his run-after-catch ability and his make-miss in the open field is something that he’s blessed with. As far as route running and catching the ball consistently, that would probably be two areas.”

Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck
(on the need to get off to better starts):

-“We know we need to start fast if we’re going to have a chance in games. We can’t survive our mistakes forever, in a sense. If you can start the game with a touchdown on the first drive or get points on the first drive as an offense that really helps. As much as starting fast is important, finishing fast is as well. We’ll put a focus on starting fast this week. We’ll come out in practice and get it from the beginning.”

Chargers Head Coach Mike McCoy (on what he sees from the Colts on both sides of the ball):

-“Offensively, obviously in this league it all starts with the quarterback. Andrew (Luck) has done a phenomenal job early on in his career of running the system the way it’s supposed to be run. I think with the multiple formation personnel groups, the number of different passing combinations, route trees, however you want to say it. He’s done a great job of taking what a defense gives him. He’s got some talented players around him. He’s got one of the greatest receivers of all time in Reggie Wayne that has had a number of success. You look at the last 10 years or so, Reggie has been one of the best year in and year out. It’s great when you have players like that surrounding you. He’s done a good job of just running the system the way it’s supposed to be run. Then historically, obviously their defense has been one of the tops in the league of getting after the quarterback. They’ve done a great job with (Robert) Mathis obviously and then with (Dwight) Freeney being there in the past years of coming off the edge and they just continue to do the same thing. They do a good job with 11 guys getting after the quarterback and being aggressive on the coverage on the outside.”

Chargers Head Coach Mike McCoy
(on what makes Antonio Gates so good):

-“I think if you ever come to a practice and watch the way he practices, number one, that’s where it all starts. I think every day in practice with him and Philip (Rivers), the relationship and the understanding of how to play the game, how they run certain routes, the adjustments they make on route techniques, route depth, certain coverages or techniques that a defender is going to use on him. I think they could both go out there blindfolded and catch balls together and complete passes. It all starts in practice. It’s his work ethic that really sticks out to me. A guy who has played as long as he has and had as much success, you see why. It’s easy to see why he’s had success because of the way he goes out there every day and works.”

Chargers Quarterback Philip Rivers
(on what he likes best about this hurry up offense):

-“Well, I think it keeps the pressure on the defense. It allows you to if you want to snap it in a hurry, go ahead and snap it and run the play. If you want to check in and out of plays, you have a lot of time to do that at the line of scrimmage. There’s been games where you check to a play and then you check back to the original play, then check back out of that. You just have time and then you can also go fast. I just think any time the threat of the ball being snapped is there, it allows you to keep the pressure on the defense. We’ve done some good things there, but ultimately we want it to translate into wins and we haven’t done enough. We’ve won two-of-five and we know that’s not going to get it done.”

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