INDIANAPOLIS — It was just what the doctor ordered.
The Indianapolis Colts this season became the first team in the league to ever decide not to take their bye week after playing in London, and instead got a bye for Week 10. But standing between the Colts and just a few days off was their Week 9 matchup on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. At Lambeau Field. Where Indianapolis hadn't won a game since 1988.
Coming off perhaps their worst performance of the season — a 30-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium — the Colts had no intentions of going into their bye week with a 3-6 record and an even larger mountain to climb to get back into the AFC South Division standings.
So what did they do? They went into Lambeau Field — again, where they hadn't won since 1988 — took the opening kickoff down for a touchdown, and didn't look back from there, defeating the Packers 31-26 to get to 4-5 going into their bye week.
What's better? The two other active AFC South teams in Week 9 — the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars — both lost (the Houston Texans were on their bye week), so Indianapolis was also able to make up some ground in the division with its win over Green Bay.
"It was obviously a huge, huge win — a great win," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said Monday in his weekly appearance on "Colts Roundtable Live," which airs on 1070 The Fan. "You know, Mr. Irsay was like, 'Historic win,' in the locker room afterwards, just based off how hard it is to win at that place, and how hard it is to win on the road period, but especially up there.
Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson were on Monday's show discussing the Packers game, as well as what lies ahead for the team when it comes back from resting up during the bye week, when it begins preparations for the Tennessee Titans Nov. 20 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
But, for now, there is still excitement about the job the Colts did to go into Green Bay and escape with a W.
"The effort was just tremendous," Pagano said. "You had a bunch of guys that made up their mind long before kickoff that they were going to go and get this job done, and it came down to we needed every last play to get the job done, and they played their hearts out for 60 minutes, and we know we put an emphasis on certain parts of that game, and they came through in those."
Here's some other highlights from Monday's show, including some questions from fans fielded by Grigson:————————————Colts general manager Ryan GrigsonOn his reaction to the win against the Packers:
It's hard to even describe right now, because it's such a feeling that your senses kind of take in. It's reminiscent of where you've been before, and I think that's what it was. Whether it was just seeing kind of all three phases come together and not just stay in games, but finishing a game and really playing at a high level answering the bell. You know, we'd make a mistake and we'd come back and make a big play — it was just that energy and that fight, and then that production. We won on all three phases and we were physical. It was kind of just a conglomeration of all those things that kind of just made you remember how it felt, and what a big difference a week makes.On how Andrew Luck was able to avoid Ha Ha Clinton-Dix on that blitz on third down on the Colts' final possession and find Jack Doyle:
That's just a sixth sense that he has. I've seen him do that many times, and him shaking off — I remember it was his rookie year — it was the Packers, he shook off Clay Matthews, wasn't it? Ironically. So, yeah, he shook off a much smaller player, obviously, than Matthews, but that's the advantage of being 6-4 1/2, 240 pounds doing that. That also speaks to his determination to make a play — because (Clinton-Dix) was completely unblocked and unaccounted for. So for him to feel that rush, allude it, and then to throw a strike at such a critical play is why he's special and why we're so fortunate and blessed to have him in our building.**
On how the bye week isn't really a week off for him:** Nah, I wouldn't say I'm quote-unquote 'Off.' That's really never the case. You know, football's never too far from arm's reach. But I love coming to this building every day — I love it — and no matter rain or shine, love coming here. I love the people I work with, love this team, and feel like we've got to continue to trend in the right direction, especially off such a big win in Lambeau.Inbox question, asking if he thinks with the parity in the NFL, that anybody could beat anybody on any given week? Grigson: "I do. I mean, that's why they say, 'Any given Sunday.' That's why that term, phrase — what have you — is in our vernacular. You know, so I look at it in way — if we're playing, scouting and being around it my whole life, I've talked to maybe even Erik Walden about it recently just prior to this game was, there are going to be players that are special. There are going to be players that no matter when they walk out onto the field, they're going to be next to impossible to defend or to contain. But I'll tell you what, it's fatigue and the fourth quarter, it makes us all equal in a sense, and I think that that's where they fight and the fire and determination and discipline comes into play, because I think it evens everybody out in this league. And I think there's not a huge gap — as you can see by the records right now; there's a very small handful, and we've been talking about this, which is good for us. So we did make some really big leaps in term of the self-discipline — you know, we had a few bonehead things, but we made up for them. But we didn't have the offsides and the holds and some of those things that had held us back in previous weeks, and multiple weeks. So I thought that was a real positive, and again, to go in and win in a place that we haven't since 1988, that was something special, I thought."Inbox question, asking if he thinks the team's secondary is getting better each week, and if he thinks the Colts should leave Darius Butler at safety? Grigson: "Well, I think that when you look at what Green Bay does, and where their offense is at right now, I mean it was a perfect move that we made and that the coaches gameplanned and put together with Darius back there, because they are so pass-happy, and Darius out there as a robber-type can be out there and use his instincts, ball skills, range and things like that at the safety spot. They weren't real run-heavy obviously, with their personnel, so it really played into our hand in that sense. But the secondary as a whole, I think it's kind of what we had hoped for in the offseason. I think of course you've got Vontae (Davis), and then Patrick (Robinson) is coming along nicely now that he's trending in the right direction health-wise; and then you have complementary play by Darius in so many different ways — you know, he's a playmaker — and then (Rashaan) Melvin is a guy that has really done well for us in spot duty with about anything that we've asked him to do. You know, he's competitive, he can run and he's got some size. So I like where we're going on defense. I think since the offseason, I've never changed my tune on what I feel we need to be successful, and that's to play sound defense, and getting better on offense where we have the weapons and we have the elite quarterback. And then when you have play on special teams like we did yesterday, I mean that just puts you in a whole different stratosphere. So if we can build off this, I think we'll obviously go in the right direction."Follow-up question, asking about Jordan Todman's kickoff return for touchdown on the game's opening play on Sunday: Grigson: "You saw it happen, and when you are a low 4.4 (40-yard dash) guy like Jordan is, then you put on the afterburners and you hit your head on the goal post — and that's what he almost did. He stopped short of jumping and doing a Lamebeau Leap, because they wanted no part of him — that was funny. But that was great, and we needed that shot in the arm. And it was a nice dagger for them and the people in Lambeau. And you'd obviously like to happen more than once every five years, but those are the kind of plays that are catalysts, that are lightning rods, to help you get a victory, especially in a place like that. You need those types of plays — or the 3rd and 10 that Andrew (Luck) makes, or the play Butler makes on the I.N.T. after Zach (Kerr) gets the roughing call. So you have to be able to answer the bell and make big plays if you're ever going to have a chance in a place like that. And we did."Caller Brandon, commenting on how he hopes Sunday's game against the Packers helps the Colts dig themselves out of a hole: Grigson: "Yeah, it's something we all feel we needed, obviously. And it was a great example of what we're capable of, despite our early mistakes. Again, this game is about making plays, and I feel like it was a good representation of what we're capable of, and hopefully it's contagious."Caller Grant, asking if he thinks the Colts have a chance at making the playoffs or advancing to the Super Bowl, despite their 4-5 record? Grigson: "You know, that's so far out right now. I feel like any team has a chance at this point, if you just look at their record. If you remember back in 2012, I can remember sitting in Mr. Irsay's box and I was newly-hired with Chuck (Pagano), and the Giants were in the Super Bowl, and they were 7-7 at one point and everyone left them for dead. So there's a lot of examples in the league where people were counted out and so forth, so you cling to those things. But right now we've just got to work on getting ready for Tennessee, divisional opponent. And the path to the playoffs is our division, and we haven't done a good enough job of finishing our divisional opponents, and we've got to win those games, and then we can talk about other things after that. But we've got to keep getting better, and continue to trend in the right direction — which I think we are based off this game. We've got to string some more together."Caller Josh, asking about a nullified challenge in Sunday's game against the Packers where the officials believed a Colts' defensive player's foot had touched out of bounds before knocking a fumble back in bounds, and what happened in that scenario? Grigson: "Just to provide some clarity here, I liked the challenge — I think everybody in the stadium and on the sidelines thought it could be challenged, but it turns out that if you cough up a fumble and it's not immediately recovered by the defense, it can't be challenged if it's repeatedly fumbled. So that's what happened with that. We never got charged a time out for throwing that out there, but I liked that challenge. I think it's being aggressive, and it sure looked like we had a shot based on the replay that the ball was in play — and it would've been closed if they reviewed it. I think it would've been close. So anytime you have a chance to get a momentum swing like that and get the ball back in the middle of the field with the way our offense was playing, I think it's the right call for sure."Follow-up comment, it seemed like the ball was in bounds, never touched, and it should've been reviewed: Grigson: "Yeah, when it got a little murky was when (Curt) Maggitt touched it, and his body was out of bounds, but the ball was still in bounds. So it would've been interesting to see how that would've actually played out."Caller Daniel, asking what they see in Andrew Luck so that he can make his connections with his playmakers a little stronger, the same way Peyton Manning did with his playmakers? Grigson: "I think that just speaks to time. It really does. You see the rapport that he has with T.Y. (Hilton), but T.Y.'s been here as long as he has. Donte's (Moncrief) been dinged up — we've had some injuries. (Phillip) Dorsett's been down a little bit. And it also, I think, has to do with our line. You know, the better we do up front, the more opportunity he's going to have to connect with those guys. So I like the direction it's headed, and I think anybody that watches our games knows that we can be pretty explosive on offense, and you utilize all those weapons he has around him."Caller Andy, asking what the focus is during the bye week for the Colts? Grigson: "You know, the bye is something I think everybody is yearning for right now, just because we have been plagued by a lot of injuries; we've got guys still healing soft tissue-wise. So I would say the No. 1 goal of this bye week is just to get fresh; everybody get their legs back, heal those scrapes and things that we have, and get guys back and get them back close to 100 percent. I think that's the No. 1 goal. I know the coaches will have everyone focused, and the guys will be away, recharging their batteries so to speak, but they'll be, I'm sure, instructed to stay in their iPads and to stay engaged, because as bad as they don't want to hear it, that bye week will be over in the blink of an eye and we'll be back here grinding. So I think getting healthy is the key to any bye week for any team."Caller Jake, asking about the role analytics plays in his decision-making process?
Grigson: "I think in terms of analytics, we did hire an analytics expert out of the league office, and it's something that I feel is evolving. Myself, on the football end, we're trying to find just different applications that can help our scouting process, help us maybe be more streamlined at certain position groups — kind of be able to bring the coaches into the equation on that, exactly what they're looking for. We've done some things just in term of the waiver wire to where, when we can quickly, as soon as that wire comes out, players will go into our database, and we can kind of pick out guys that fit the traits the coaches are looking for, what we're looking for on the scouting end, and then all the intangible things that we have blended from the scouting reports from college, even. It's the next-gen stats, as well, that we're getting from the league that we're getting. The miles per hour is something we really look at a lot, too, because a lot of times when you're tracking that, you can tell if a guy is getting well, if he needs more rest. It's really kind of a new frontier, and again, we're just trying to use applications that pretty much don't waste our time, but can help us get from Point A to Point B better, but that also can aid in the scouting process to help us get to the players that can help us win a championship."