INDIANAPOLIS – Pat Angerer totaled 75 tackles in 16 games as a rookie. His total ranked second on the team.
After nine games this season, the middle linebacker has amassed 97 tackles to lead his nearest teammate, Antoine Bethea, by 22 stops.
Angerer opened four games in 2010 in the middle in relief of Gary Brackett, among his eleven rookie starts. He has started since week two in the middle after Brackett exited the lineup with a shoulder injury following a second-half interception in the Houston opener.
His four games this year with double-digit tackle totals exceed the three he produced in 2010, and he has not failed to have fewer than seven stops in any outing this season.
Playing on a team looking for its first win can spawn some difficult questions, but Angerer maintains these are just tough times the team is enduring. He thinks the players are holding up.
"First of all, I don't think we're a bad team," said Angerer. "You just focus on improving, and I think when the losses (happen) it can be real easy for everybody to start blaming each other and everybody to separate, to kind of close in on each other. I think you really focus on sticking together and growing closer because of it, growing tighter and just growing stronger. I think there are still a lot of games left, and we can turn this around."
The team's play has not matched aspirations, and the focus for victory remains sharp by the 53 players in the locker room. What is needed, according to Angerer, is just a little bit more down-after-down execution.
"We're not a bad team. We have good players, we have good people," said Angerer. "I think there's a consistency problem. I think we're all to blame for that. It's a play here and a play there. We're not bad. We can play good. Can we play good consistently? I think that's been the problem."
Winning football games means functioning well in all three phases of the game. What has been a challenge is limiting possessions by opponents and controlling the ball. Opponents have snapped 95 more offensive plays through nine games than have the Colts, while converting 48.4 percent of third-down opportunities. Angerer knows those numbers must improve.
"I think more mistakes and more big plays (are the reasons for some of the scores this year)," said Angerer. "We can do a better job of limiting the big plays and causing turnovers. We've got to help out the offense somehow, and we've got to keep them (opponents) out of the end zone. I think it's mistakes, inconsistency – a mistake here, a mistake there. It seems like it's been the thing when you watch tapes after games. It's not bad (overall), a play here or there."
Head Coach Jim Caldwell was a solid defensive back at Iowa. He has spent a portion of his career with Indianapolis helping plot ways to thwart opposing defenses. Caldwell appreciates the play of Angerer.
"He's done an incredible job up to this point," said Caldwell. "He's played outside linebacker for us for the great majority of the time since he's been here, because Gary (Brackett) has been in the middle, and he (Gary) played well at that spot. He (Angerer) is a natural middle linebacker. He's one of those guys that it looks as if he's gotten faster, but the fact of the matter is that he's playing in a position that's natural for him. He covers a lot of ground. He has an extreme measure of 'want to get there' within him, and he's a great leader. I think the guy is really doing a very nice job. … He's able to hang in there, he throws his body around and he loves to play."
Angerer has been asked if there is more involved with playing in the middle than doing so on the outside.
"I think the reads are easier, but you have to think about the checks and getting everybody lined up," said Angerer. "You're in the middle and try to read the guards and see everything. You have to make the checks and all that stuff. You have smart guys like (Antoine) Bethea who make them for you (laughs), so it's not too bad. Just making checks (is a difference), but our defense is pretty simple. It's not too tough."
Angerer is a matter-of-fact player with instincts. The bottom line for him is he just likes to play.
"I like playing middle, but I will play anywhere," said Angerer. "What it boils down to it, football is simple. You have to hit the guy. 'Sam' is a lot more fitting different places and making sure the ball goes a certain way. You still do that at 'Mike,' but not as much."
Angerer is one of only 10 Colts who have started every game this season. He is among the 26 players who have played in every game. Facing Jacksonville in week 10 is like every previous week. While he respects his opponent, Angerer is like every competitor who expects to win every time competition is at hand.
"Every game that you play, you think you're going to win," said Angerer. "You go into it knowing that you're capable of winning. Every game there is a chance of winning. They're a good team. I think that they've got a great running back (Maurice Jones-Drew), obviously, and they're going to try to pound it on you. We'll have to play real hard to stop him. (Jones-Drew is) the same kind of guy (as Atlanta's Michael Turner). He's a little bit shorter, but his legs are like tree trunks. He'll be a tough, tough guy to tackle."
The second-year Iowa product carries a presence that is beyond his years. He was a playoff participant as a rookie and now is witnessing a different type of season. He cites his teammates for a professional approach to the situation.
"I think everyone shows a sense of maturity, just seeing how nobody is abandoning the ship," said Angerer. "I think that says a lot about the guys in the locker room. We're still fighting. We're still working hard. We're still staying together, and I think that shows a lot about the character of the guys in the locker room.
"I think it's maturity. Guys really respect each other. Guys are in here every day working hard. Nobody wants to lose, we're working hard to win. Respect is the main thing."
COLTS FRIDAY NOTEBOOK (QUOTE-UNQUOTE): Jim Caldwell(on the club's 2007 visit to the Walter Reed Medical Center when asked about Veteran's Day) "The impact that it had on me was (great). The first thing that I noticed was number one, I was amazed with how many guys said immediately they wanted to get back to their particular platoon. They wanted to get back to their guys. That was number one. We're not talking about any…there were significant injuries, let me put it that way. They still had a burning desire to want to be able to do something to help. That struck me. The other thing is the spirit in which it was pervasive in that room. It was one of great courage, one of an intense loyalty, one of a burning desire to recuperate as quickly as possible and also one of thankfulness as well. All of those things left a real lasting impression on me. We went around from room to room. To answer your other question about have I stayed in touch with any of those guys, no sir I have not. But we do have in the building Josh Bleill, who is, obviously, an example of an individual who went through some very, very difficult times (in combat). (He's) right here in our building (as an employee). I do have the opportunity to see him often."Caldwell(on how QB-Curtis Painter responded to being pulled from last game)*"He's been fine. He's come out and worked extremely hard this week. He may not show it, he may not be one of those guys that's going to stand up and pound his fists on the table or yell and scream and be demonstrative, but he has a lot of pride in what he does. He works extremely hard. He cares and you could tell this week when he came out there to practice, he came out with a mission. Hopefully he'll continue to work hard and good things will happen for him." Caldwell (on whether he was aware of C-Jeff Saturday's talk with team this week) "I was aware of it. As a matter of fact, he and I discussed it and talked prior to (the meeting). It wasn't just to the offense, just to set the record straight so that you do have some of your facts right. He's a leader, and that's what leaders do. I try to encourage that, that we have guys that will stand up and certainly be accountable. I think that's good. I have not been around a team yet where the leadership on the inside, from players, is not extremely important. We've always had that around here from (Dwight) Freeney, Reggie Wayne and the rest of the group of guys that do a tremendous job of sort of stepping up and trying to make a difference." Caldwell (on TE-Jacob Tamme) "He's one of those guys that doesn't seem like he ever gets tired, first of all. He runs all day, and certainly, he does a great job just in terms of his preparation. He participates in all of our special teams, he's typically all over the field and not only that, but obviously in this particular case when Dallas (Clark) is out he's going to carry quite a load. He works hard, very, very smart, does a great job in terms of his preparation and study and he also does a great job just in terms of setting a tone in terms of leadership." Caldwell (on if team's performance without QB-Peyton Manning makes him reassess team differently) "No. The big issue is just the fact of how we're performing. We're not performing very well right now. That's the key. We have to do better. That's my job to get them playing better, nothing more than that, plain and simple. We have men that certainly have grown within this system. Some of them are veterans and some of them are young guys, and we've got to get everybody on the same page playing well consistently. We've had some spurts where they may have played well in one phase for a quarter or another phase for a quarter, but we haven't been able to put it all together, at least (not) enough to get in sync enough to get us a victory. That's the issue, and that's my job. That's the kind of evaluation I look at right now. How do I get better and how do we get better? I'm not one of those philosophical guys that will look at the overall program and give you some diatribe in that regard. I've got to look at the things that we can affect and change, and we do that out on the practice field." Caldwell (on the perception the Colts were too reliant on Manning) "There are a lot of guys on this team. Peyton's a big part of what we did, but he hasn't been here for quite some time now. This team has time to develop, adjust and move forward at this point. We're nine games in, okay? So that's not the issue. The issue is our performance right now, and we're not performing well enough to win right now. So we've got to get that straightened out." Caldwell (on his concern over team's margin of defeat) "I'm concerned about winning and losing, period. Obviously, any time that we don't perform well I'm concerned, and that's certainly been the case here of late. We've just got to continue to work and go at it. I'm not just interested in keeping games close. I'm interested in winning, and I think that's the bottom line." Caldwell (on team's past success and being 0-9) "Well obviously, our record indicates that we're struggling. It's just like anything else, every year is different. It's totally different than any other year, obviously, we've ever had. Our task is to find a way out of it. I think our guys have continued to fight, and I think you can see that they still give the effort. We just have to give them some more help in making certain that they're in position to win more so than anything else. You can't do anything about the past. The past is the past, and we're looking at where we are right now. (We've) got to face it, got to work through it and got to do better." Caldwell (on team's development during season) *"Well, there have been some areas in which we've had some improvement, obviously, but certainly not enough. The problem is that the improvement is oftentimes fleeting. There may be one game that we do something extremely well, we covered punts extremely well this week, punted the ball extremely well and we've still been able to run it with some consistency. Next week it might be a different issue, a different problem. One week we do a great job in terms of stopping the run. The next week we have some difficulty. There have been, more or less, inconsistencies throughout. There's been improvement one week, and maybe we don't show it the next week, and then it comes back the following week. So we've got to get it to the point where it's consistent across the board."
Caldwell(on staying encouraged) "We've still got a lot of football left to play. We can certainly focus in on the things that we think we can improve upon, and we've got to build upon some of the things that we did well and just keep plugging away. No one said it was going to be easy. This job is, and in the sport in which we participate, it's difficult, it's tough. We certainly don't lose faith, and certainly don't lose faith in the fact that at some point in time we're going to come out of this on the back end of it a stronger team and a better team." Anthony Castonzo(on his comfort at this point of the season) "I think I'd be a little bit more comfortable had I not had those five weeks off because of my injury, so that kind of set me back a little bit. I'm definitely way more comfortable than I was in that first game, and I'm settling in and feeling pretty good."
Curtis Painter(on how TE-Jacob Tamme will play in increased role) "Well, I think the thing about Jacob is that last year was a very similar situation in the sense that Dallas (Clark) went out a little bit through the season there, and Jacob came in and did a great job throughout the season. We've obviously been seeing him make plays even since then, but he's always done a good job when needed of stepping in there, and even this year as well." Painter(on not falling behind and minimizing mistakes) "That's the number one thing, trying to stay in phase and keep mistakes to a minimum. You can't get it all back in one series. You can't get it back in one play. There's a lot of time left in the game. This last game (against Atlanta), there was a lot of time left. I think the biggest we need to do if the situation comes up again is stay patient, chip away at it, not force things on all accounts. Being able to get in a rhythm and stay in phase is a big thing." Dwight Freeney(on Jaguars offense with QB-Blaine Gabbert) "Well, I think they kind of reduce their packages on offense. Obviously he's a rookie, and you don't want to put those guys in positions to make too many mistakes. It's a little bit different team from the standpoint (of) they simplify the game plan just a little bit. They still have number 32 (Maurice Jones-Drew), and that is the key to their offense for years. As a defense, we know we have to stop him. They're going to try to get him the ball as many possible ways (as they can) – on screens, quick passes, check-downs and running the ball like normal." Freeney(on if he is frustrated at being stuck at 98.5 sacks) "No, not really. This is just how it is sometimes. Sometimes you go four or five weeks without one, then all of a sudden you get two or three. It is what it is. Hopefully one day I get some freebies. Two freebies the first two plays would be nice. That's just not how it's been around here. It's just been that we've had to work hard for every one, and you don't know when it's coming. You have to keep working. If you get three opportunities, then you've got to try to win those three. Most teams their D-lineman get 16 or 17 opportunities of true pass situations where you get one-on-ones and they hold onto the ball, but not us. That's not what it is. The opportunities are limited, so I have to maximize when I have them." Freeney(on team's slow starts) "They're bad, just flat-out. (It's) 7-0 right off the (start), 14-0, 21-0. I don't care who you are, it's going to be hard to come back in those games, especially from a defensive standpoint. Their offense goes from maybe they have six plays they're going to feature and the whole playbook is open. Now, they're going to pick a play out of the playbook and see what happens. They can do that. They can gamble. They can do those types of things. (Call) different runs we haven't see, ball control, milk the clock. You don't want that. This week is an emphasis – a fast start. Let's get out fast. … The slow starts are tough." Jacob Tamme(on being excited with opportunity) "I'm excited. It's a little different than last year. I've been playing. Last year was kind of going from not playing much at all to trying to jump in there. I was really confident in my abilities and did some good things last year. It's not really what it's (this year) about. It's a new thing, new offense, new year. Obviously, we're going through some stuff right now that we have to get through as a team and find a way to put some wins up. That's what my focus is. Whatever I have to do, I'm ready." Tamme(on C-Jeff Saturday's talk to team) "Jeff is one of the best leaders I've ever been around. When he speaks, everybody listens. There are a lot of things we need to get better at. There are things we have to do better on Sundays. Guys have been working hard. Guys have been preparing well. We just have to find a way on Sunday afternoon to play to the best of our ability and make the plays it takes to win the game. Definitely, it's always good to have guys on the same page and to get things going a little bit." Tamme(on how tough is it to look at standings) "It's tough, it's very tough. The struggle is to stay focused on this week, because I can't change anything that we've done so far. None of us can. We have to stay focused on trying to go out there Sunday and get a win. That's what we have to do as professionals. We take a lot of pride in what we're doing. That's why it's frustrating. No one's happy with where we're at. At the same time, we're not going to mope around here and give up on this thing. It's time to get better and do the things we need to do to find a way to get a win on Sunday." Austin Collie(on rating TE-Jacob Tamme as a worker) "He's a 10. The guy is a special teams stud, a special teams guru. You see him out there on specials teams and he gives his all. It's no different on the offensive side of the ball." Collie(on making the most of 'touches') "I think so. Any chance the ball's coming your way you have to make sure that you make the most of it. I think that's more than anything. If they're coming your way on a block, they're coming your way on a pass, when you're limited to the snaps we've been limited to these past couple of weeks that's where we need to make sure we extend those drives by making sure we're on those details." Reggie Wayne(on division not feeling sorry for Colts) "I bet you that. I guarantee that they sit back and they're happy that the Colts aren't the team that's on top of the division, but that's the way it is. Hopefully we can get out of this funk." Wayne(on comfort level with QB-Curtis Painter) "We're practicing; we're doing the things that we need to do. Whenever he wants the extra work, I'm down for him to get it in. It's going to take more than just one season to get the chemistry down like me and Peyton have. Me and Peyton have 10 years of that. I can remember my first year with Peyton, I mean it took tons and tons and tons of reps to get that timing down and get the things that we want to do for me to be on the same page that him and Marvin Harrison at one time. It's getting there. We're working on it. He's got so much going on right now. I'm sure he's still like a deer in headlights because basically it's his rookie year too, as far as being behind center in a real game. That's the way it is. He's got to get the timing down with me, he's got to get it down with Pierre Garcon, he's got to get it down with all of the other skill positions. He'll learn like everybody else." Wayne(on how he stays motivated) "You don't need motivation. I've been doing this since I was seven years old. I'm doing the things that I've always wanted to do. I love playing football. Yeah, I love to win and I understand everybody can't win. My motivation is to wake up every morning, I've got my beautiful wife, got my three kids. That's my motivation. I've still got bills to pay regardless if we're winning or not. I've got to show up every day and go out there and play like the receiver that I'm supposed to play like and just play football, enjoy the things that I do. Once I'm not enjoying it anymore then it's time for me to be a house Dad. That's just the way it is. I'm self-motivated as well as the majority of the guys on this team I'm sure, especially when you haven't won a game. That motivation is to start winning ASAP. We all should have some kind of oomph in our step these days, even with the losing record. So that's the mindset." Dan Orlovsky(on difficulty in playing QB) "It's hard to play quarterback in this league. That's why there's only 32 of them. It's a unique thing to be good at. For the most part, even the guys who end up being really, really good players in this league struggle at some point. I know what he's going through. When I had my opportunity to play I had some ups and some downs. It's a big part of the process. You have to learn from your mistakes. You have to correct them in your own game. You have to stay positive. The guys on the team need to see you as their leader. They need to see you staying positive and coming back to work. No matter if you go out and light it up or play bad, they have to see your demeanor the same. You come back to work on Wednesday the same and prepare that way. I think he will respond the right way. It's just part of the process. You hope you don't go through it much or long, it's a process most guys go through." Orlovsky(on importance of listening only to organizational voices in tough times) "It's huge. You have to believe in yourself, understand what got you to the point where you are. That's what's given you some success in your life at some point – high school and college. You have to believe in yourself, believe your in coaches (and) believe in your teammates. If you don't it's easily visible." Orlovsky(on every QB eventually being pulled from a game) "If you play long enough, you're going to get cut. If you play the position long enough, you're going to have a day when you're going to get pulled. It's very much how you respond. (You) come back and you show that 'does it affect you in a manner that is long-term?' Are you upset about it? Sure. It should affect you. It shouldn't change how you go about your business. It shouldn't change the person you are in the film rooms, the meeting rooms. Oftentimes, it hopefully refines you and re-focuses you and things like that. It's very much how you respond, sure." Orlovsky(on team's character) "I think we have the character of guys who won't quit. They're going to continue to prepare, whether they were 0-9 or 9-0. You don't have a decade of winning (by) not knowing how to handle adversity. It's not like they went 16-0 here every year. I'm sure they've been backed against the wall before. … You go out and throw your best punch every Sunday." Orlovsky(on need to focus despite record) "I think the motivation enough is you get to play a game for a living," said Orlovsky. "Do that, it's your job. Our focus should be all about Sunday. … We have to do a good job, if you're a first-year guy or a 10th-year guy, keeping everybody together, keeping our ears plugged. Don't listen to stuff when it's going good. Don't listen to stuff when it's going bad. You focus on your next week. Hopefully we'll come in and correct the things you need to correct and move on."