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Quick Start A Major Emphasis For Colts Against Chargers

Intro: The San Diego Chargers are outscoring their opponents 42-3 in the first two quarters of games this year, giving the Indianapolis Colts’ offense and defense an obvious challenge to be quicker out of the gates on Sunday.


INDIANAPOLIS — The narrative for the Indianapolis Colts all offseason and through training camp and the preseason was really emphasizing getting off to a "fast start" in games.

Through the team's first two games of the 2016 season, it's not quite something the Colts have been able to master.

Indianapolis' opponent on Sunday, the San Diego Chargers, meanwhile, have done no wrong so far this season when it comes to jumping on their opponents early and often. Through two games, the Chargers have scored 42 points in the first two quarters of their games — and have allowed just three.

It'll be a major point of emphasis for both teams on Sunday, when San Diego visits Lucas Oil Stadium.

"It really boils down to execution," Colts offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski said this week. "A lot of that has to do with third down — we have to play well on third down. They've been outstanding defensively of getting people off the field and we have to make sure that we're in manageable down and distances and then we're able to convert on those manageable down and distances."

Chargers head coach Mike McCoy didn't have any trade secrets to share when asked about his team's fast starts so far this season, telling Indianapolis media members, "You always emphasize trying to get out to fast starts and doing things a certain way and you're trying to improve every week."

Offensively, the charge has been led by veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, who is completing 80 percent of his passes (28-of-35) for a 126 passer rating in the first half of games so far this season. He has 265 yards passing in total with three touchdowns to no interceptions during that span, as well.

Colts defensive coordinator Ted Monachino said it's no surprise why Rivers has been so successful — not only so far this season, but year after year.

"We have a lot of respect for Philip (Rivers) and the job that he does, not only as a physical football player but more importantly as a mental football player," Monachino said this week. "His football IQ is off the charts and we've got to do a great job of being precise in our disguise in everything that we do. We don't want to give him any pre-snap tells if we can avoid it."

The Colts also have to prepare for second-year running back Melvin Gordon, who earned his first-career 100-yard rushing game last week in a 38-14 blowout win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

So far, Gordon has 38 rushes for 159 yards (4.2 yards per rush) with three touchdowns, running in an offense that is the only unit in the league as of Sunday that is running the ball more than it is passing it.

But San Diego has been just as good defensively in the first half of games as it has been offensively this season.

The Colts know they'll need to pick it up a few notches on Sunday after scoring a combined 13 points in the first two quarters of their losses to the Detroit Lions and the Denver Broncos.

In fact, their only touchdown in the first half this year came in the waning seconds of the second quarter of their Week 1 matchup against the Lions.

"We scored early in the game last week and got a field goal. Would've liked to have gotten more," Chudzinski said of the game against the Broncos. "We have to be able to execute throughout the first half."

Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said getting in a rhythm — something that just hasn't really happened through the first half in Weeks 1 and 2, especially last week against the Broncos — will be key for quarterback Andrew Luck and the offense against a talented Chargers defense.

"I think we never got in a rhythm," Pagano said of the Broncos game. "I don't think (Luck) ever got in a rhythm. We had opportunities early on so I think it's just a matter of getting in a rhythm and having success early and going from there."

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