INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts have hit the halfway point of the 2016 season with a 3-5 record after Sunday's 30-14 home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
It is what it is — and it isn't what anybody within the organization expected at this point of the year.
"We're disappointed. I know our fans are disappointed — we all are. And I know we can play better," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said Monday in his weekly appearance on "Colts Roundtable Live," which airs on 1070 The Fan. "These guys sacrifice and put a lot of time in, and it's paid off before, and again, we're going to go back to work and fix the things that need to be fixed. And we've got a huge ballgame coming up, and that's where our focus is."
Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson were on Monday's show discussing the Chiefs game and all the disappointment that came out of it, but also how all the team can do is move on from here and figure out a way to correct all the issues that rear their ugly heads seemingly every week.
The next opportunity to do just that will be this Sunday against on the road against the Green Bay Packers, who, at 4-3, are also having what they would consider a disappointing start to the 2016 season.
After a tough 33-32 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, you can bet Aaron Rodgers and Co. will be ready to go against the Colts.
"We can't get back on the practice field fast enough," Pagano said. " know the DNA, I know the character of this football team and this coaching staff, and we'll go to work and we'll prepare and we'll go play well up in Green Bay."
Pagano did acknowledge the challenge ahead for the Colts, as Lambeau Field has always been a "tough, tough place to play."
"It's a great opportunity for us," he continued. "Aaron Rodgers is really unbeatable up there. He's got an unbelievable record — over 80 percent win record up there. So huge, huge challenge, but ready to go get to work to get ready for it."
Here's some other highlights from Monday's show, including some questions from fans fielded by Grigson:
————————————Colts general manager Ryan GrigsonOn T.Y. Hilton being limited to just one catch for eight yards with a couple drops against the Chiefs. Was it the hamstring? Did that influence his production at all yesterday?
"You know, T.Y. is a big-time playmaker. Anytime he's absent or is off the field for any reason, we're going to feel those effects. But at the same time, I feel like this is a team game, and guys are going to have to step up in his stead. So, again, if he's out, then guys are going to have to step up, and I feel like we have a very talented wide receiver corps. We had guys step up — Donte (Moncrief) made some plays for us, some that were negated by self-inflicted wounds like we've had over and again — but at the end of the day, I think that as a whole, a scout that kind of taught me the ropes in St. Louis when we went to two Super Bowls and that receiving corps there was out of this world, and just learning that position, at the end of the week, the old scout told me, 'Well, go through all these skillsets, and let's talk about what you saw all week when we watched the film and break this down for me.' So I was on the spot — and I've always carried his with me, and I'll even talk to receivers sometimes when we're in conversation, because I think it's such a great point — is here I was looking at all the things like takeoff, speed, ability to get out of the break, transition out of the break, route running, all these different things, and I went through the whole spiel, and he said, 'OK, all those things are great, and those things really count. But — can the son of a gun catch?' And that, at the end of the day, all of the elite traits don't matter unless you secure the catch. So that's something I think that we can do — we definitely can do a better job of that — and we have guys that are capable of making tremendous catches. There's going to be errant throws; there's going to be errant throws that are off the mark that you can't get to. But it's just like anything — missed tackles or drops — those are things that we can focus on, hone in on, and shrink it. Because that can end up significantly helping us, because those have been the problem areas, and we've got to have the self-discipline and will to fix them."**
On how the team moves solid practices to game day and make those sessions pay off:* "You know, just to be blunt, I've seen us have bad weeks of practice and go out there and have a phenomenal game. I mean, that's happened since 2012 around here. And then when you have what you think is a phenomenal week — everyone's on their Ps and Qs; things look clean as all get-out — then we lay an egg. So it's hard to tell, and I've been on a lot of different teams, and you just never know what's going to happen. You always say you play like you practice, but it doesn't always happen that way. So I think that Chuck is so disciplined on the process, and it's never for a lack of effort out there. We just have to execute — I think our players even spoke to it after the game — it's about executing the plan. There's a simple plan, but we didn't execute it. So we're trying to include everyone in this cocktail of contributors — young, older, role players, guys that just got here, guys that have been here, guys that are coming off injury, guys that aren't quite themselves yet or young players with loads of talent but are still feeling their way — you know, it's a kind of soup, a stew that we're kind of putting together that we're trying to make work right now, and I think a lot of times, from just a personnel standpoint, the focus has to be, when you're building a team, you want to build a team not to where you're at, but to where you want to go with what you have, if you follow me. So it's not always what's there today. It is a marathon, so if we want to be at our best and stay in this thing, I think we have to keep trending and pushing those buttons and pressing guys to improve and to develop to give ourselves the best chance. So you've got to have some foresight and forward thinking, I think, and that has to all come together with what actually you can to within a coaching staff, from — sometimes guys needs six weeks to get up to speed. It all depends. Not everyone's Joe Haeg. So there's a lot of different factors you're dealing with, but again, we're always trying to keep the big picture in mind, because it is a long season, and again, we're still capable of making things interesting."You mentioned guys that are coming along well, and a guy that comes to mind is Edwin Jackson. Here's a guy that is leading the team in special teams, you stick him in there and he gets a sack yesterday and recovers a fumble that was negated. But he seems like a kid that is doing what you're talking about. "Well I think anyone can see it. When he steps out there, it's not going to be perfect. You know that going in. I mean, it's his first time starting in the NFL yesterday. And he was a guy that was basically on the street the whole year last year until we picked him up and put him on our practice squad very late in the season. But one thing he does that — what was it, 13 plays last week where he has three tackles — (is) he plays with a lot of ferocity, and he has just unmistakeable energy when you see him out there, because he flies around. Now you don't know maybe if he'll go in the right spot sometimes, but he's one of those guys that if he does make a mistake, he's going to do it 100 miles per hour. So those are things I think the coaches really like, I think that's what everyone likes, about Edwin is he leaves it all out there on the field. And I think it's a good thing, because all the other young guys sees how he plays, but there's also an element of preparation, too. So these guys are all getting it, but they also know that when you come here on Monday, boy does Sunday roll around quick. And Coach is constantly, constantly — there's not probably a practice that goes by afterwards where he doesn't re-emphasize getting in your iPad, getting back with your teammates within your position group, asking questions and making sure that when you come take the test on Sunday, you've got all the answers."*
Highlights from the Colts vs. Chiefs game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Everybody's saying, 'Well, go in the locker room and throw chairs.' Be Bob Knight, for a lack of a better example, and get real fired up about things. That doesn't always work — sometimes it works better on the college level than it does in the pros.** "You know what? Our head coach has won a lot of football games. He's won a lot of football games in this league. Year in and year out. And we've not had a losing season since he's been here, under all types of adversity and circumstances. So everyone coaches differently, everyone pushes buttons in a different way, everyone has their own style. So it makes no sense for someone that's not in our building — because you don't see everything that goes on in the building — but there's no way an outsider can say that this person has to do something this way or that way, because he's his own man, he's been reared in this thing — his dad was an exceptional high school football coach — he's been around it — his brother's a coordinator. I mean, they've lived and breathed football their whole lives. So he knows how to win. His style is his style, and he's not going to change that, because he's been very successful with it. So we're all trying to push the right buttons, and find, again, the right recipe for success. But sometimes it takes time and it takes patience."Inbox question from Smash Mouth, asking if he thinks Andrew Luck has the fire of a Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Ben Roethelisberger? Grigson: "Those are great players. I've never been around them. I just know that Andrew is as competitive at any position I've ever been around. He's a blue competitor. What, he's got 17 comebacks in his young career? The way he has given up his body, the way that — that's just something that has never even crossed my mind. He's an ultimate competitor."Inbox question from Roller Colt, asking what it's going to take for the Colts to turn it around and get back in this division hunt? Grigson: "You know, I don't think the story's going to change until we stop the penalties and the errors that we're making on Sunday. We can practice lights out and can look great all week at practice, but if it doesn't carry over to Sunday, it's going to hurt. And it's hurt us. So we've got to find a way to execute, and it's just at every level, whether it's downing a punt on the 1, whether it's securing a catch, whether it's making a tackle in space, taking a correct angle — a lot of things that are fundamental that we have to finally, once and for all, get right to give ourselves a chance. Because, again, the thing that's painful is we've been right there. And when you play an opponent like the Chiefs, you're going to have to play a clean game; no different than going up to Lambeau (Field in Green Bay). You're going to have to play a clean game, and you're going to have to have the right mindset the minute you walk out on the field in that hostile environment. We have the team that can do that — we did it in Denver, in a hostile environment with the former world champs; took them to the wire. So we're capable. Again, it's between the ears, and like our coach says, we've got to have the blinders on going in there, and what a great way to right this thing and get back on track, by going in and beating a quality opponent like them."Follow-up question, on how the Colts avoid a loss and win in Green Bay? Grigson: "Well first of all, there's a small handful of teams right now that are out front in this entire league. And then there's a whole hodgepodge of teams that are like us that are in this mix with the same kind of win-loss record, or close to it. So, again, we have to keep trending in the right direction. We are a team typically that rights our wrongs from the week before, and goes and gets a win, historically. So we have to stay on track, and our head coach does a great job with that, is moving forward, leaving these painful losses in the past, like we did after Houston. I mean, a lot of teams would not do that. So we have to do that, to stay in the hunt. It's up to us. You know, we've got to find a way to get back in the hunt, and the way to do that is taking care of our own house first and giving ourselves a chance by executing and not blowing both our feet off with the mistakes we make."Inbox question, asking how the defense can improve, and can you do it through a trade? Grigson: "Well, first I'll say is, there were times in that game where the defense really showed up, and again, we have to play complimentary football. When our defense is giving our offense a chance, the offense has to answer to keep that going. And in terms of trades and so forth, you know, people have to understand that to be able to execute a trade, to carry the contract it has to be the right money that you can actually even fit cash-to-cap-wise within your organization. Do you know the player? Is he a clean-character guy? Does he fit what you're trying to do? And how do you see him actually in the near-term being able to even contribute? Will he be able to learn the system in enough time to even be a factor this year? Because he might have a year left on his deal. So there's a lot of factors that come into play, and you also have to look really hard at, is Player B significantly better than what you might already have in-house, but maybe doesn't have quite the experience yet that we don't know the ceiling on yet? So you kind of set yourself back at times if you make those moves. So I've learned a lot in these past four years. We have a different mindset, so to speak, and want to make sure that anybody that we bring in here is the right fit for what the coaches are trying to do or the right fit character-wise, and it's got to fit on multiple levels, because these picks … are too valuable to just throw away."Follow-up question, so you can't just call a team and say, 'Hey, I want Player B right now?'
Grigson: "That's another thing. I mean, when you're really in need at a position, and we have before — and even when you have significant competition on the table that's attractive as all heck — those teams aren't giving up their best players at their positions. I mean, they're not. And a lot of times, at certain key positions they're hard to come by in this league; they're not willing to part with their third guy that's not even seeing significant snaps. And that makes it tough. So it has to be the perfect situation a lot of times, and trade's got to work for both parties for it to be a good trade."