INDIANAPOLIS – In last year’s meeting between the Colts and Dolphins the lasting memory is the emotional speech that Chuck Pagano delivered to his team following the 23-20 victory.
On Sunday, Pagano will be on the sideline hoping come Sunday around 4 p.m. EST he can deliver another post game speech to a winning Colts locker room.
Flashback to that Nov. 4 meeting at Lucas Oil Stadium and it was
The Colts offense was a mind-boggling 13-of-19 on third-downs with Luck continually keeping drives alive with his elusiveness in the pocket.
While the offensive and defensive systems for the Dolphins remain from 2012, Miami made some significant splashes in free agency.
Offensively, the Dolphins lost multi-purpose running back Reggie Bush but have added a dynamic receiver in Mike Wallace.
“They still pretty much do the same thing from what I’ve seen so far,” defensive end
“The scheme is what they run, a little bit of zone a little bit of this and that, but for the most part, it’s about beating the man in front of you and making plays. That’s what football is all about.”
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is in his second season in the NFL and he’s got a pair of receivers that have produced at a high level in this league.
While Wallace only caught one pass in his Dolphins debut, fellow wide receiver Brian Hartline went over 100 yards in Week One, just like he did last season against the Colts.
“Mike Wallace, he’s a stretch the field guy. He wants that deep ball a lot so we’ve got to keep him from that pretty much,” Colts cornerback
“(Brian) Hartline is his trust factor as far as (Ryan) Tannehill. That’s his safe guy. He throws to him on check downs and more intermediate routes.”
In 2012, Pagano knew what the stakes were with both teams having 4-3 records and in the thick of the AFC playoff picture.
Playoff aspirations are once again on the minds of each team in 2013 and Pagano isn’t expecting anything different from what he saw last year.
“We’ve got a great team coming to town on Sunday,” Pagano said earlier this week. “We knew what it was last year. It was a donnybrook last year, 23-20 ball game.
“It’s going to be a 60-minute slug fest. The team that executes and makes the most plays, and makes the most plays at the critical times and plays great situational football will probably be the one that comes out on top.”
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill versus Colts front seven: The Colts will be facing much more of a pro-style look this weekend. Tannehill threw for over 3,000 yards last season and last week against the Browns he was 6-of-7 during the fourth quarter of the Dolphins 23-10 victory. He was sacked three times and the Colts will certainly have their chances to get after Tannehill.
Colts offensive line versus Dolphins defensive line: The Dolphins defensive line has veterans all across the unit and is led by one of the game’s elite pass rushers in Cameron Wake. Last week against the Browns, the Dolphins had six sacks. It’s no secret the Colts are looking for a better effort in protecting Andrew Luck after he was sacked four times in the regular season opener.
-The Colts are looking for their eighth straight win at home.
-Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is the only quarterback since 1970 to win his first seven starts in games decided by four points or less.
-The Colts are 12-1 when safety
-Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake had 2.5 sacks last week, his eighth career game with at least two sacks.
-Dolphins linebacker Philip Wheeler was the team’s leading tackler last week and spent four seasons with the Colts.
-Dolphins running back Marcus Thigpen went to Indiana University.
Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano (on how you prepare for a guy like Cameron Wake):
-“Yeah, we’re going to know where he’s at. It’s really no secret. Pretty much 99.9 percent of the time, he’ll be lined up to our offense’s right, defensive left. That’s one thing know where he is. It’s a different thing getting him blocked. The guy is very, very athletic, very powerful. He’s got a nice tool box full of rushes. He’s good versus the run. Obviously 15 sacks a year ago, two and a half sacks in the opener versus Cleveland. He’s a great player. Great, great player. So we got to make sure we tend to him.”
Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano (on why the Colts have been so successful in brining in veteran free agents and having them fit in):
-“I think Ryan (Grigson) and his staff has done such a great job. Prior to bringing these guys in, they do a great job evaluating. We talk about all the time finding guys with “Horseshoe” traits, so they’re bringing in the right guys. And then having that veteran leadership that we have in our locker room that’s already in place, the culture, the environment, all that stuff that’s already in place, these guys really have no choice but to buy in. The combination of Ryan and his staff finding good football players, better people, and guys in our locker room, the culture that we have, our veteran leadership, guys like Reggie (Wayne) and Robert (Mathis) and Antoine (Bethea) and Adam (Vinatieri) and Cory (Redding) and you can go on and on and on. They come in here and it’s easy to see why they buy in. It’s an environment that’s conducive to all the things that you’re talking about.”
Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck (on the comfortability during fourth quarter comeback situations):
-“I think the team is comfortable in it because we practice it a lot. Coach Pagano makes it a point of emphasis, all the different situations. There’s a Pandora’s Box sort of with situational football and end-of-game and end-of-half things. We practice those a lot. Offensively and defensively you get a little more comfortable when you get in the game because you know you’ve practiced those situations. You know what you’re trying to accomplish.”
Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin (on how the Dolphins defense was able to play so well last week):
-“Kevin Coyle and the defensive staff I thought put together a good game plan. We spent an awful lot of time in the spring and throughout the course of the preseason preparing for our first game. The staff did an excellent job of putting the players in the position to be successful. We’re fortunate to coach a group of guys that are hungry, that want to be excellent football players. They played well. We still have a lot of things to improve upon. We got to tackle better and do a number of different things better but I thought we got off to a good start.”
Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin (on what he has seen from Andrew Luck):
-“He’s an excellent football player. There’s no doubt about it. He has all the skills you’re looking for in a quarterback. He has the decision-making ability that you’re looking for. He throws the ball accurately. He’s got velocity with his arm and also touch. The unique thing about him is he can run. He’s not skittish in the pocket by any means but he can extend the play. He can sense where that free rusher is coming from and perhaps step up outside and make some yards on his own which makes him doubly difficult to defend.”
Dolphins Quarterback Ryan Tannehill (on how much more comfortable he is in year two):
-“I’m a lot more comfortable. Everything has really slowed down for me. I really got to use this offseason to grow, use training camp. Last year in training camp I was battling for the starting position, so I really got to use training camp this year to really grow in the offense. We’re excited about what we can do this year and we got to take it one game at a time.”