INDIANAPOLIS —The Indianapolis Colts' offensive line will face three of the top-six ranked defenses during its final sprint through the 2017 regular season.
Defenisve units of the Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 2 overall), Denver Broncos (No. 4) and Baltimore Ravens (No. 6) are all stifling when it comes to giving up yardage — and, to top it off, the Jaguars rank first in the NFL in quarterback sacks with 35, 10 of which came in the Colts' 27-0 Week 7 loss at Lucas Oil Stadium.
There is never an easy week in the NFL, but Joe Philbin's squad is going to need to be ready if the Colts are going to put up enough points to wrap up the season with some wins.
"We have to play better," Philbin told the media on Wednesday. "I think consistency has been the biggest thing we're going to harp on when we get back [from the bye]."
"You just haven't done things executed well enough, long enough. Whether it's one game or whether it's a quarter."
Philbin, the Colts' assistant head coach and offensive line coach, knows the line's success ultimately starts and stops with him, and recognizes some of the issues his group has faced through the first 10 weeks of the season.
"We've got to nip the penalties in the bud," Philbin said. "One thing that doesn't reflect well on the coach is when the group has a ton of false starts and you get a critical holding penalty in the fourth quarter when you're trying to win a game."
The 15-year NFL coaching veteran noted that communication during the game is one of the biggest issues his squad faces. It may not help him that a rookie center started the first four games, a new, young quarterback joined the team just before the start of the regular season and was the Colts' starter by Week 2 and that the line has been forced into a plug-and-play scenario due to various injuries, but Philbin refuses to use those scenarios as an excuse.
"As I tell the players all the time, 'We're not paid to get frustrated. We're paid to contribute to the success of the football team. Period.' So whatever the circumstances are, they are. You've got to deal with them as they come along," he said.
But, like the battle-tested coach, engaged teacher and strong leader Philbin is, the Springfield, Mass., native looks in the mirror first.
"My job is to help them perform up to potential, so I've got to do a better job of helping them help the team win football games," he admitted.
Upon returning from the bye week after some mental and physical rest, the Colts will jump right into preparations for their Week 12 matchup against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Philbin is eager for to see what his linemen can do down the final stretch of the season, starting with the Titans.
"Let's come back and play our best football of the year," he said. "It's late November. We've had some time to work the kinks out — 10 weeks and 10 games. We're not rookies or young guys anymore. We've been together; let's get this thing right and get this thing humming."