INDIANAPOLIS — Disappointed, but never discouraged.
That's Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano's manta this week, after his team failed to take advantage of a golden opportunity to be alone atop the AFC South Division standings.
Now, by way of their 22-17 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Colts must win all of their remaining three games, as well as get a lot of help from others within the division, to have even a shot at nabbing a playoff spot.
Pagano and team general manager Ryan Grigson discussed that critical Texans game, as well as the outlook for the rest of the season, on Monday in their weekly appearances on 1070 The Fan's "Colts Roundtable Live," and while postseason hopes look grim at best at the moment, the only focus for now is on the Minnesota Vikings, the Colts' opponent on Sunday at brand new U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
"We had a golden opportunity at home, and we didn't take advantage of that and we didn't get the job done," Pagano told host Bob Lamey. "This team will never give up; it will keep fighting, and we'll come to work again on Wednesday, and we'll begin to prepare like we always prepare for this next ballgame and for the Vikings and go on the road and give ourselves a chance to go play well and win a game."
For Grigson, while the loss to Houston "stings like no other," it's time to put that game in the rear-view mirror and just move on. While it might be tough for some fans to do the same, the way this Colts team is wired is to go out and make something happen with its back against the wall.
"We've always bounced back, every season I've been here with Chuck (Pagano). So I don't expect any different, and I think we play our best when our back's against the wall, and it clearly is cemented against the wall now," Grigson said. "But again, it's not going to help if we make the same type of of mistakes. I mean, no matter how fired up we are going out there, no matter how great of a practice week we have — we had a great week last week — it just doesn't matter if you go out there and make mistakes. So we win and lose as a team — period. And we just keep on truckin'.
"No one's going to fold their tent around here, Bob," Grigson told Lamey.
Here's some other highlights from Monday's show, including some calls and questions from fans fielded by Grigson:**————————————
Colts general manager Ryan Grigson:Rough day at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday, and even with the loss, the injuries mounted:* It adds insult to injury after that loss. And losing some really good players, and guys that not only play their tails off, but guys that really, really care. And those three guys all really, really care and work real hard, and they've helped contribute to winning football for us.Maggitt, Mewhort, Geathers are out. But roster moves were made. Tell me about Duke Williams?: He is a guy that ran well coming out of Reno, and he's a dual safety. He's got flex — he fits a free or a strong type of mold. He's played quite a number of snaps in this league for Buffalo, worked him out last week with another player, and it just seemed like a right fit for us at this time with the injuries we've had. So Clayton is obviously someone that we feel is on the edge of greatness, and tremendous blow, but we have to move on. And it's hard to see him not have to play, because he was coming off such a strong performance against Tennessee, and that play he made on DeMarco (Murray) was special — I don't know many guys that would make that play in this league.*
Geathers really loves the game, and he's a guy you want to have around:* I think those are the type of guys that hit the ground running when they come back. It's no different than when he came back from the fracture in his foot. He's just so dialed in at practice every day — he's out there every day, even though he's hurt, taking those reps visually out there. We've had a lot of players — and you can kind of tell a lot of times who is out there really dialed in, because it happened with T.Y. (Hilton), I believe, his rookie year, and he was out with a hip flexor, and he really, as a rookie even, he was always kind of the example I thought of, because he's next to Reggie (Wayne) every day, making sure he was taking mental reps, asking questions, and even as a rookie he really was able, I think, to shrink his learning curve, as Clayton did while he was out. Now he has a whole offseason to be out, which is tough for a guy like that, because he wants to be out there competing with his brothers.Inbox question, asking what his thoughts are on the team's pass rush without Robert Mathis? Grigson: "Well, you know, when you have Robert out it's tough. But those two guys (Erik Walden and Trent Cole), they're both roughneck players. They both have a similar style, in Walden and Trent. They're not elite edge-rush speed guys; they just battle their way to getting pressure. And then they're great in the run game. So they're both making plays; they're both making their presence felt on three downs. And especially with Trent coming off (IR), I thought last two games he played really well. So I'm happy with where those guys are going."Caller Brandon, asking about the final 4th and 1 play for the Colts' offense against the Texans, and why the team went with the screen pass: Grigson: "It is a painful, painful loss. We've got to get over it here real soon. But that's a Coach (Chuck) Pagano question — you know, I don't prep and prepare schematically and do those types of thing as a general manager. That's a coach question, to be honest with you."Follow-up question: that was a play very similar to the one the Colts ran to Frank Gore earlier for a touchdown: Grigson: "And that's the thing. If it lands in his hands and (Robert) Turbin falls forward and gets so many yards and he's got so much juice, we'll never know what would've happened if he would've caught it, but I would like to think that Robert Turbin gets that first down, because he usually does. So, I mean, we're going to support what our coach decides, but again, that's not in my wheelhouse."Caller Josh, asking why the team is not as consistent as it should be this season, and how to fix that moving forward: Grigson: "You know, I think this whole season, it's been about the little things, you know, and then controlling those things that we're able to control, whether it be drops or missed tackles or penalties and so forth. I think we've been about in every game to the final minutes of all those games, I think, really, except for K.C. (Kansas City), and then really, Pittsburgh you could probably say, but the rest we've been in them all. But again, you take care of the little things and the big things take care of themselves, and you can't make repeated errors — and these players all know that, and they're really hard on themselves, and we end up having to suffer the consequences by not taking care of our business, and that's losing a home game to be in first place in the division. I mean, it stings like no other, but we have no one to blame but ourselves."Inbox question, asking why it was so difficult to slow down the Texans' Lamar Miller on Sunday: Grigson: "He's a heck of a running back. You know, I think our two inside backers played really, really hard. They have a lot to learn still — there's no way around that — and we knew going in they were going to make mistakes. But their physicality, their effort, tenacity, we saw a lot of positives out of those two players — we really did. And we've got to be able to get those guys on the ground more, and we shouldn't have given up that many yards, but we did, and there's nothing we can do about it now."*
Inbox question, asking where he sees improvement in the offensive line:**
Grigson: "We had way too many hits yesterday. You know, we gave up just one sack. The last four out of five games, we've had no more than two. But again, we've got to be better, we've got to be able to pick up stunts, free rushers with more consistency. And the continuity is something that would be nice to have game to game, but again, everyone in this league has to battle through that. There's a war of attrition going on with 31 other clubs. So I still firmly believe that this group is going where they need to be. We have some young guys up there, and we have some players that are moving around. You know, Joe Haeg, since Kyle Turley, he's the first rookie since Kyle Turley in '98 to start at three different line positions. Just got that tidbit, actually, yesterday. And so that speaks to, first of all, his versatility, and it's pretty amazing. And Kyle was a first-round pick. So Joe's more than done a good job for us as a rookie. And then Ryan (Kelly), you know, he had some plays, I'm sure, yesterday he'd like to take back, but he's going to be fine. But again, O-lines are something that with gained experience, you'll build cohesion, and I think this is going to be a rock-solid group at some point."Inbox question, asking what he sees out of Hassan Ridgeway?:
Grigson: "He's a big, big strong guy. It was nice to see him — he hasn't been able to finish on two sacks; I think Tennessee, and he just couldn't quite finish — but I think he blew through three blockers on that play, watching this morning. And then he finished, which is great. So he got the sack. But that kid, his arrow's up. You know, him, T.J. (Green), the two inside guys at backer (Edwin Jackson and Antonio Morrison), Geathers — there's a nice little nucleus of young defensive players. And that whole defense as a whole, I think, forced five field goals yesterday. The defense, I thought, played really hard; we just gave up too many yards on the ground. We thought we were pretty good in coverage, for the most part. We've got to get better, but there are some good, young players to build on here."Inbox question, asking about how he felt Edwin Jackson played, and what's the toughest part about losing D'Qwell Jackson?:
Grigson: "Well, first I'll say, Edwin led our team tackles with 10. You know, he's kind of a tackle machine — he's always been one. (Antonio) Morrison, I thought, did really well, too. And he played faster in space, I thought he looked more aware in coverage than he did — but that just comes with experience. That's where the D'Qwell thing has a big effect, because these guys, there's no familiarity with who's calling the huddle; you know, you have someone else doing it — it's all an adjustment all the other players on the defense have to come under. And we have to; we have no choice. But it's a little bit of a transition, and D'Qwell has been doing it for long and been productive for so long, there's going to be a void in certain areas that these young guys can't fill because of that lack of experience. But, those two guys just flew around yesterday, and we like the energy that they bring."Caller Tim, asking how you bounce back from losing a tough game like Sunday's:
Grigson: "You have no choice. You have no choice — we've always played hard no matter what. We've always bounced back, every season I've been here with Chuck (Pagano). So I don't expect any different, and I think we play our best when our back's against the wall, and it clearly is cemented against the wall now. But again, it's not going to help if we make the same type of of mistakes. I mean, no matter how fired up we are going out there, no matter how great of a practice week we have — we had a great week last week — it just doesn't matter if you go out there and make mistakes. So we win and lose as a team — period. And we just keep on truckin'.
… No one's going to fold their tent around here, Bob."