INDIANAPOLIS – Like every NFL team, the Colts get measured on a weekly basis. Other than what can be gleaned as learning moments going forward, the past game matters very little.
Indianapolis seeks to even its record at 1-1 in meeting Cleveland this Sunday at 1 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium in the home opener. In hosting the Browns, the Colts will take a few lessons from the season opener and the matter of sifting through the past game to hone in on the next is something quarterback Kerry Collins has learned to do over his 16 previous NFL seasons.
"You have to be undaunted by anything that happened in a game, that's win or lose, good game or bad game," said Collins. "You have to be able to just compartmentalize it, learn from it, deal with it and move on."
The Colts seek to have better consistency and execution this Sunday against Cleveland. Against the Texans, Indianapolis suffered two turnovers, had penalties alter drives and did not establish a rhythm until the second half. It was one game out of 16 and the first one started by Collins since joining the club on August 25. There were a few moments on which to build, and Collins and his teammates will do so as the team prepares for this Sunday.
"I'm sure there's a host of things that we all could have done better," said Collins. "I need to take better care of the ball, and that's the number one priority. There are going to be things, I'm sure, with plays, reads and decisions that I'll have to improve on. That's part of it, and that's part of playing quarterback in this league. It's something that I've always been good at."
Collins has excelled at numerous things throughout his distinguished career. He was operating a new offense under somewhat crash-course conditions. His veteran talents allowed observers to see glimpses of what is possible with him at the controls, and his veteran nature meant he saw things on which he will improve.
"I felt, for the short time that I've been here, that I've been able to get on the same page with those guys. Really, we just didn't help ourselves," he said. "The big things were turning the ball over, which I was responsible for, but there were some good things that happened in the game, especially in the second half. We hurt ourselves a little bit with penalties and some other things, but I fully expected to go into (last Sunday) and to play well and run the game plan. There were some good moments, but, obviously, (there is) a lot we need to work on."
Collins has started for five other teams and has seen a wide array of offenses and individual talents throughout his career. The Indianapolis offense is as diverse and challenging as any in the league. Collins, in his third week with the Colts, does not feel very limited in the attack Peyton Manning has directed for 13 years. In fact, he likes where he is with it.
"Not much at all," said Collins when asked if he were limited last week. "I think we all were pleased with the amount of stuff we had in going into the game. I really felt like I had a good grasp on the game plan and what we were doing. From a game plan and running the offense type of situation, there really wasn't that many blitzes. I felt that was pretty smooth. I certainly think we can continue to have that number of plays and that volume (of material in the plan). I think it will help us going through the rest of the season."
Like Manning, Collins did reach the scrimmage line with a variety of plays from which to choose.
"Absolutely, absolutely, that's part of the offense," said Collins of his ability to adjust matters before the snap. "I expected to be able to handle the situation and get us in the right play. There were maybe one or two (plays) I maybe could have done a little better on but for the most part, I thought we were in the right play most of the day."
The club famously has employed a no-huddle offense through the years. When Collins was asked about its possible return, he did not discount or perpetuate the notion.
"I don't know if it's on the radar screen right now, possibly," he said. "I think the offense kind of lends itself to that. I think as we go along and the progression kind of manifests itself maybe we can get there at some point."
What he can do is enjoy the talents surrounding him in what has been one of the NFL's most exciting offenses. Last week, he completed his first touchdown pass for Indianapolis to wide receiver Reggie Wayne. It was Wayne's 70th career scoring reception, and Collins long has been enamored of Wayne's prowess and that of other Colts receivers.
"I've had an appreciation for him for a long time," said Collins of Wayne. "He's very friendly to a quarterback. He's quick out of his breaks. He's always in the right spot at the right time. He's been doing that for a lot of years. It's nice to have guys like him and Pierre (Garcon) and Dallas (Clark), (Austin) Collie, all those guys. They're very talented individuals who know how to play the game. It (Wayne's) was an incredible catch. I always tell him and Dallas (Clark) they're showoffs with one-handed catches and stuff like that. They can do it. It was really impressive. I wish he (Wayne) would have kept the ball for me. It was my first touchdown pass as a Colt. I don't know what he did with it."
As Collins builds new relationships with teammates, Colts Vice Chairman Bill Polian has been around Collins since drafting him in the first round in 1995 while with Carolina. Polian has enjoyed Collins' ethic and talents for years.
"Kerry's a hard-working guy. He wants to win. He's very, very tough," said Polian. "I've always said in response to questions, you could take two F-16s and you could run them by his ears time and time again and he won't even notice that they're there. He's a very, very cool customer in the pocket. He's going to hang in and make plays. He's a courageous guy, tough guy, hard worker, very smart. It just takes a little time. Unfortunately when the regular season begins, time is a precious commodity. As long as we keep working to get better every day the end result will show up positively over time.
"I've been blessed to have been associated with a number of great quarterbacks in my career. That's just good fortune. Kerry has become much more of a complete quarterback. He understands the game. He understands defenses. Believe it or not, he doesn't throw the ball with any less velocity or any less accuracy than he did when he was a rookie. God blessed him with an incredible arm. The throw he made to Reggie (Wayne) was a great catch, but it was also a dart. He's grown in the job as any quarterback would over time in the NFL. The courageousness and the ability to throw the football is really not a whole lot different than when he came in many years ago."