INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni today talked to local reporters via video conference. What did he have to say about Indy's bye week evaluation of quarterback Philip Rivers' play, and where they think he's headed, as well as the potential return of wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.?
You can catch the entire session above, but here are some top takeaways:
» After using the bye week to evaluate the first six weeks of the season, Sirianni likes the trajectory of quarterback Philip Rivers: Through his first six games as the Colts' quarterback, Rivers has completed 138-of-198 passes (69.7 percent) for 1,598 yards with seven touchdowns to six interceptions for a quarterback rating of 93.0. He ranks sixth in the NFL in completion percentage, ninth in yards per attempt (8.1) and first in net yards per attempt (7.78). The Colts also rank 10th in the league with 37 pass plays of 15 yards or more, which was a huge emphasis coming into the season.
Last week's bye week gave everybody on the team, from players to coaches, an opportunity to take a step back and closely evaluate at least a couple points of emphasis from the first six weeks of the season, from what's been working to what needs work moving forward. Sirianni said he enjoyed getting some additional time with Rivers and quarterbacks coach Marcus Brady and really digging into the nuts and bolts of the offense.
"We went through a lot the things with Philip. Coach Brady had a great plan of what we were going to do as far as our position meeting with him," Sirianni said. "It was just a lot of give and take back and forth of what's working as a scheme, any fundamental thing, any decision-making thing. We just watched it together, dissected it together and that's always a fun time to be able to do that with your starting quarterback."
One of the primary reasons Rivers was signed this offseason was his familiarity with Sirianni and head coach Frank Reich, who had worked with the veteran quarterback as members of the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers' coaching staff a few years back. So while Rivers' re-introduction into Reich's playbook has been pretty seamless, Sirianni is confident that his production will only continue to get better this season as he gets more reps with his new teammates.
"I think that the timing that you create with your receivers, the timing and the communication that you have with your offensive line and your running backs, as far as protection goes – I just think through our first six games of our season, the trajectory and the path, we just continue to see the arrow go up because of just the amount of reps they have gotten together," Sirianni said. "I just think that that's going to continue to rise with the more and more reps that they get together. I just think the arrow is pointing up.
"We think (Rivers is) playing winning football and you see that even more as you look at the entire season as a whole," Sirianni continued.
» The Colts are eagerly awaiting the potential return of rookie wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.: Pittman Jr., the Colts' second-round (34th-overall) pick in this year's NFL Draft out of USC, was really starting to see his role expand within the offense when he went down with a lower leg injury in the Colts' Week 3 victory over the New York Jets.
Pittman Jr. suffered his injury in the second quarter of that game and was initially ruled questionable to return, but was able to get back onto the field at the 10:28 mark of the third quarter; he finished the contest with three receptions for 26 yards. Later that night, however, he began feeling intense pressure in his leg, and after consulting with team medical personnel, he was sent to a local hospital, where he was diagnosed with compartment leg syndrome and immediately underwent surgery.
While Pittman Jr.'s injury wasn't expected to keep him out the entire season, the Colts haven't attached a timetable for his return to game action. Reich had mentioned last week, however, that Pittman Jr. was among a group of injured Colts players the team was hoping could return after the bye week and be ready to go for this Sunday's Week 8 road matchup against the Detroit Lions.
In his first three NFL games, Pittman Jr. had logged nine receptions for 73 yards; he had two receptions for 10 yards in his NFL debut against the Jacksonville Jaguars, hauled in four receptions for 37 yards the following week against the Minnesota Vikings and appeared to be in for an even bigger role Week 3 against the Jets before exiting the game with his leg injury.
If and when Pittman Jr. does return, Sirianni is looking forward to seeing the rookie continue to build upon his early start.
"Michael is big and physical, but he has almost like little-man feet, like where he is able to get in and out of breaks like a guy who is 5'10" and he's 6'3". That's a very good ability to have because he can win with both his quickness and his strength and size," Sirianni said of Pittman Jr. "We're excited to be able to get that back from him because he does have a unique skillset."