Colts Center Talks Playoffs
Colts center Jeff Saturday, a four-time Pro Bowler, has anchored an offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks in the league in 2009 with 13. With Saturday at center, the Colts offense recorded its 12th consecutive season with 5,000 net yards and continued to be one of the most effective units in all of football. On Wednesday, the 11-year veteran talked about the team's 2009 season and their upcoming playoff match-up against the Baltimore Ravens.
Q: You have seen a lot of defenses throughout the season, including the 3-4, which Baltimore uses. How do you prepare for a defense as complex as the Ravens'?
A: "I think this team in particular is one of those where identification is extremely important. These guys all can play multiple positions, they can drop in coverage and they can come and rush the passer. So you have to make sure we're all on the same page and everyone understands who the line is responsible for, who the back is responsible for, and pick those guys up. Then, on top of it, you have to pick up their pass rusher or whatever games they are running. They are definitely one of the more complicated defenses we face."
Q: When playing the Ravens, do you have to prepare for a lot of different looks?
A: "I think if you look at what they did last weekend, they brought a ton of pressure. I think their defense is one that thrives off getting pressure on your quarterback, making them throw bad balls, because they have ball hawks back there. Those guys pick the ball off a lot, they make big breaks on plays and they turn a lot of games around by getting turnovers. I don't imagine they are all of a sudden going to a Cover 2 all day long and playing zone. I'm sure they are not going to change their spots all the way. Those guys are very effective at what they do and I'm sure that's what they are going to play."
Q: Before the snap, do you ever look up to see where a player like Ray Lewis or Terrell Suggs is on the field?
A: "I think it's tough to do that. Each play we have designed we are going to be responsible for certain guys. It could be Ray (Lewis), it could be (Terrell) Suggs, it could be a number of different guys. I don't think you can ever pin it down to one person. They do a lot of changing; they do a lot of walking around and mixing things up. Hopefully, we'll keep it as simple as possible and pick these guys up."
Q: You played the Ravens in Baltimore about seven weeks ago, do you anticipate facing a much different team this weekend?
A: "I don't think so. They've been making a whole lot more plays here of late, offensively. Their run game has picked up and they are making big plays in their run game. Their defense has played tough all season. I don't know how many points we scored against them, but I know we turned it over a couple of times and those were forced turnovers. Those just aren't bad decisions, those guys are getting after us. I think their defense is very similar. Offensively, they've hit some big runs and put some pressure on teams trying to run the ball."
Q: What do you hope to do against Ray Lewis on Sunday?
A: "Hopefully, I block him (laughs). There is a reason he's a perennial Pro Bowler, All-Pro. His reputation and resume speaks for themselves. I don't foresee him not playing on Saturday night. We'll have to block him up and fight a good fight with these guys. We've had some serious battles here and I respect the heck out of the type of team they have. Those guys play hard and I expect us to have to put out a great effort to beat them."
Q: Are you at all surprised about the continued discussion in the media about the Colts' decision to rest the team's starters at the end of the regular season?
A: "I'll be honest, I dropped it on the following Monday. There's nothing you can do about it. We moved on as a team. And we have to get to serious business. Whatever happened two weeks ago is not going to affect the outcome of Saturday night, I can assure you. Both teams are going to have to show up, be effective and do what their game plan calls for."
Q: How do you balance getting rest and being sharp? In 2006, the Colts won the Super Bowl, but in 2005, the team fell short after going 14-2 in the regular season.
A: "First of all, I keep it all in pretty good perspective. We lost twice to the Super Bowl champion and lost once to the Super Bowl contender, so we just didn't go out and get our heads beat by some slappy team. They outplayed us and beat us when it was that time. Realistically, we've played a lot of big games. I start every season not playing very much, so once we crank it up, it's time to play. There are not going to be any excuses on who played and who didn't. You're not going to hear those guys say they are tired because they had to play the last three weeks. You're not going to hear any excuses out of any team. And whoever executes is going to win the game."
Q: How crucial has the addition of kicker Matt Stover been this season?
A: "It has been huge for us. Matt has played fantastic for us. He's made some big kicks. We have a veteran back there. The guy has played longer than some guys have been alive. He's been around a long time. Stove is a great player, man. He brings a lot of fun to the team, and you have full confidence in what he can do. He's made big kicks in this game and we expect nothing less from him."
Q: What is the atmosphere like during a week leading up to a playoff game?
A: "You switch up playing Saturday night, so that moves the week up a little bit. The games are focused; no two teams are playing at the same time, so you have little bit more focus on each game. This is what it's all about. You play a lot of tough games throughout the season to get to this point. I hope our young guys are enjoying the atmosphere, what this has been about, getting talked about throughout the season, and all of the stuff with the circus of the media that goes on during the season. This is the way it funnels down. I'm excited about it. We are playing a great team in the Ravens. This is how you set a legacy. This is how you make things happen, by playing in big games and playing well in them."
Q: Do you feel any carryover from the end of the regular season?
A: "No. You are going to see a totally different team. We have a lot of different players who will not be playing who played, and (some who) were not playing who are going to play. I would say it's about the same carryover in the preseason, that's about what it is…I'm hoping it works out like the beginnings of some of our seasons."