INDIANAPOLIS –Bruce Arians always has had a way to draw something from his players.
Arians is an aggressive coach, but a smart one. He is trying to coax a different result from the Colts this week as they travel to Tennessee.
After 20- and 26-point losses at Chicago (41-21) and the New York Jets (35-9), he wants his players this week to do two things – their jobs first and foremost, then a little extra.
"We have to do more than our job. Doing your job doesn't win," said Arians. "(If) both teams do their job, the home team wins. That's the nature of the beast.
"We have to do more than our job. We have to create some turnovers. We have (nine) turnovers on the road and one takeaway. We have to protect the football. We have to take it away."
In his offensive coordinator capacity when the club opened at Chicago, Arians saw the offense produce four of the team's five miscues with the ball. Subbing for an ailing Chuck Pagano four games later at the New York Jets, Arians saw the offense suffer two interceptions and two lost fumbles.
Indianapolis beat Cleveland last Sunday without producing a takeaway and survived a close ending that included a dropped ball in the end zone by a Browns receiver.
Arians want play-makers to make their normal plays – and then some.
"We have to create more plays. When you look at Cleveland, they came into our house and basically made the plays to win the game, but dropped the ball," said Arians. "You have to finish the game when you're on the road. You have to learn how to win on the road by finishing it, making plays, not by just doing your job."
"It's hard, especially when you're going against two premier defenses like we have in Chicago and New York, one with great players, one with really good schemes."
Linebacker Dwight Freeney got the message loud and clear. A disruptive force by nature, he will keep an eye peeled for opportunity.
"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 home field 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.' In years past, we've been a great road team. Great teams are great road teams."
Players are coached to maintain responsibilities so while Arians' message really is nothing new, perhaps the presentation of it will help.
Indianapolis has created a league-low three takeaways and has a seasonal ratio of minus-nine. Those are troubling totals even though the Colts have produced more points off takeaways than their opponents (17-16).
Defensive end Cory Redding was a component in Baltimore defenses that feasted on opposing offenses. He, too, will do his day job, then look for extra chances.
"It's basically doing your job and once you do your job, go make plays, period. It's nothing extra to be done. It's doing your job and making plays," said Redding. "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."
Quarterback Andrew Luck is playing in an offense that takes its chances down the field. In a passing attack that is more vertical than some teams, he has thrived on many more occasions than he has struggled. Protecting the ball in an opposing venue is the top priority.
"It's nigh impossible to win when you're minus whatever we are on the road. We know we have to clean that up," said Luck. "It goes to the overall theme of a little more focus, a little more consistency offensively, a little more attention to detail.
"We realize if we want to be a better football team, we're going to have to start winning on the road. If we want to get consecutive wins in weeks, we're going to have to start winning on the road."
This is the club's third road chance. It is more seasoned, and that is something Arians believes will help on Sunday.
"This one is another challenge. It's not as difficult because we've been there (on the road) now. We have experience at it (the road)," said Arians. "We should be better at it. We should know what to expect.
"You have to stay in a situation where you have the game in close proximity to win it, or (be) ahead. Then you can stay balanced and win the game. When you're one-dimensional, bad things are going to happen."