INDIANAPOLIS –Game 11 of the 2013 season brought loss number four for the Colts, but those looking for a change in approach will find nothing of the sort – Chuck Pagano is sticking with his process.
Pagano, speaking just hours after returning from Arizona, said basically the same thing he did just moments after his Colts fell to the Cardinals, 40-11.
"I think it'd be really easy, you come in after a huge win and everything's hunky dory, your issues are still there but we know winning cures all, and we can sweep whatever we want to sweep under the rug," said Pagano. "So whether we win or whether we lose, it doesn't matter.
"We stay right here, we stay steady and we stay the course and we stick to the process."
It is a time-honored method by coaches who win and win consistently. In victories there are matters to correct. Certainly in defeat there are the same, and Pagano led the way as the Colts prepare for a Sunday showdown with Tennessee.
"We're up front about everything," said Pagano. "We point out the good. We point out the bad. We point out the mistakes. We just tell it like it is, man-to-man."
Telling it like it is means there is a continued stressing of execution that has been problematic over the past month where, despite a 2-2 record, at least 12-of-16 quarters of play have been issue-heavy.
The Colts have been out-scored 93-12 in the first halves of those games and have converted only three-of-25 third down chances.
While it was an offensive execution problem that contributed to an early deficit to St. Louis in a 38-8 loss, it has been early play on both sides of the ball that have kept the club from gaining a first-half lead in any of last four games:
- Houston scored on 62-yard pass 1:00 into game; Colts halftime deficit – 21-3; result – 27-24 win.
- St. Louis scored on 45-yard fumble return 2:48 into game; Colts halftime deficit – 28-0; result – 38-8 loss.
- Tennessee scored on 30-yard run 3:24 into game; Colts halftime deficit – 17-6; result – 30-27 win.
- Arizona scored on four-yard pass 4:58 into game; Colts halftime deficit – 27-3; result – 40-11 loss.
Houston and Tennessee scored consecutive offensive touchdowns to open their games. Arizona had a field goal blocked on its second possession, then drove 80 yards to the end zone on its third chance.
Pagano feels it is a matter of treating the matter professionally rather than having a forced action that is beyond his process.
"Come in and try to rule with an iron fist after a loss, they're sitting there waiting, expecting to see who's going to show up," said Pagano. "We certainly want to show up as the same people after a win as you do a loss.
"(There's) a whole different vibe in feeling, but again, point out the mistakes, where we got to get better and then we move on."
While execution has not met the standards always needed to win, Pagano knows performance integrity is no concern.
"Not at all," said Pagano. "No, these guys work, they strain, they play hard. They give it everything they've got."
Pagano is quick to cite veteran leadership as a reason why the current lull can be overcome.
One of his men in the middle of the process, Jerrell Freeman, likes the method and believes players will pull their end of the freight.
"Nah, (there's) no panic button, not at all. We're a family," said Freeman. "All you got to do is look to the locker next to you and know who you're playing for out here, and just know that we're going to pull it together. We'll be alright.
"We still have that goal in front of us. We just got to come together as a team. There's no special pill or anything to be able to take. You can't go to Wal-Mart and buy a pill for this. You got to go out there and work and just work towards our goals and we should be okay."
INJURY UPDATE – Pagano said Vontae Davis' groin strain looked fine after an MRI. LaVon Brazill had a low contusion but should be fine as well.
Greg Toler, who has missed the last four games with a groin injury, is improving and may get some field work with trainers and may do individual drills with the medical staff. Pagano termed Davis "day-to-day," along with Stanley Havili (concussion protocol) and Kavell Conner (ankle).