INDIANAPOLIS –A call to action is not necessarily an emergency call.
Such is the case this week as Colts interim head coach Bruce Arians is asking his players "to do more."
Arians knows a prescription for failure in the NFL is to take on more than what is assigned. His message is for players to do their jobs as assigned and when they are done, then do a little bit more.
Arians is hoping the Colts can address one specific ill, and that would be to earn the first road win of the season.
Arians, subbing for Head Coach Chuck Pagano while Pagano battles leukemia, has urged the players to be dutiful as the team travels to LP Field to meet the Tennessee Titans.
Sunday's game is the third road venture for the Colts. Indianapolis was a 41-21 loser to Chicago on September 9 in the opener, and the club fell 35-9 at MetLife Stadium to the New York Jets four games later. Indianapolis is one of five NFL teams that have not recorded a road win this season.
The last time the Colts won on the road was on December 26, 2010 at Oakland.
A problem for the Colts away from home this year is turnovers. Indianapolis had five at Chicago and four at New York, and the team is minus-eight in those two games. Indianapolis has trailed by 10 and 15 points at halftime in the two games.
Failure to cash in completely on scoring opportunities has occurred, too. The Jets also rushed for 252 yards and three touchdowns in winning, while one of the team's three takeaways and three of its 13 sacks came in road outings.
Two of the club's defensive stalwarts, linebacker Dwight Freeney and defensive end Cory Redding, embrace the notion.
"When you're on the road, just 'OK' is not good enough. Sometimes a team has to step up and make a big play – interception, caused fumble, sack," said Freeney. "What he means is when you're at home, you have homefield advantage. Everything bounces your way when you're at home. When you're away, you need a little extra (something). Somewhere, you don't know where, but a (turnover). He means within the framework (of your job). He doesn't mean just run around and do whatever. It's in the framework of your responsibility, 'I have my gap. Here comes the running back. Instead of just making the tackle, maybe I can tackle him and cause a fumble.' "
Redding played on a few Baltimore defenses that made life tough for opponents. He will be looking, too.
"It's basically doing your job and once you do your job, go make plays, period," said Redding. "It's nothing extra to be done. It's doing your job and making plays. Speaking from a defensive lineman (standpoint), doing my job is staying in my 'B' gap. Now doing more is when I see the ballcarrier bounce to the 'C' gap, shed my blocker and make the play in the 'C' gap. That's doing my job, and more.
"It's nothing as far as not adhering to my assignments or disregarding the total defense and doing whatever. It's, 'Doing your assignments first, then go make plays.' That's what B.A. (Arians) has preached to the team."
In not calling out any one player to do more, Arians did mention that ball security and cashing in on drives offensively is a priority. Doing more means the player who handles the ball on every snap, quarterback Andrew Luck.
"It starts with him, offensively – the ball security, the third-down conversion rates, the red-zone conversion rates," said Arians. "Those are the things, the situational football that we control, that's what we have to get better at. We can't go down there (the red zone), play too fast and miss a touchdown and kick a field goal. We can't miss a third-and-one or a third-and-two. Just settle down and play good early. That's how you get crowds out of games. Obviously, we cannot turn it over.
"A lot of that is directly involved with him. That's why he is who he is."
Luck appeared on the club's injury report this week with a knee ailment that required treatment. Arians said Luck's listing on the report was to adhere to league policy.
"It's something we're bound by the league to disclose anything that happened in a ballgame. It's nothing major. He didn't miss a practice or a play," said Arians.
Arians noted earlier in the week that Luck still is learning small nuances of the game. In particular, he wants his young star to avoid hits in the pocket or at the end of plays.
"He took some hits in the game he shouldn't have taken. He's got to learn to quit doing that," said Arians. "It didn't get Ben (Roethlisberger) until last year. He held onto the ball when he got his ankle sprained and played on one leg the rest of the year. We don't want that happening to Andrew. There are times to create (plays), and there are times to get rid of it and play the next down."
Arians on Friday spoke again about Pagano, who is battling well against leukemia. The illness was diagnosed in late September, and Pagano has missed the last three games. Arians and Pagano are very close, and Arians loves the fighting spirit of his friend.
"He's always been a fighter. For what he's going through, I can't imagine," said Arians. "I know he feels so much better being out of the hospital, being at home in an environment that is more comfortable. He still has a long fight ahead. That second round of chemo is coming. We'll keep our fingers crossed. The counts are good. He's always been an upbeat, positive person ever since I've known him. The glass is always half-full. We need to fill it to the top."
The two remain in contact, sharing visits, conversations and text messages. Pagano reached out again to his players this week.
"He wrote another letter to the team this week," said Arians. "It's his football team. When he's not feeling bad, he wants to be here. He can't be, and it's driving him crazy."
Pagano was able to go home prior to the team's game last Sunday with Cleveland. In the comfort of his home, Pagano saw the Colts prevail, 17-13.
More chemotherapy is ahead, and Pagano must stay in an environment as sterile as possible. That means more rest at home and no visit planned to see his charges at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
Pagano is being cared for chiefly by his wife, Tina, who Arians believes is a special person.
"Oh, you know it," laughed Arians when asked if he thought Pagano were driving Tina crazy around the house. "She's a saint. Any coach's wife is a saint. I promise you Tina's a saint."