INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts last week played host to 16 "Horseshoe Legends;" former players who were invited to speak to the team as it wrapped up training camp about what made them successful in Indianapolis.
And when all was said and done, one Colts alum's words of encouragement, more than any, really stuck with Scott Tolzien.
"Just focus on getting two-percent better every day."
"And that resonated," Tolzien recalled this week. "Just focusing on today, and the short term and letting the long-term stuff taking care of itself."
It's an approach that has worked well for Tolzien, especially since signing with the Colts during the 2016 offseason.
He has been tasked with taking the reins of the first-team offense since the start of this year's offseason workout program, and while he said some days have been better than others, Tolzien knows staying even-keeled is critical to his overall development.
"It's a one-day-at-a-time process," he said. "You turn on the film every day and it's never as good as you think it was, and it's never as bad as you think it was. And it's early on, so you don't want to get frustrated, but you also don't want to get too excited after a good practice. You just want to stay even-keeled and improve on our mistakes, both starting with myself, and then as an offense as a collective unit, one day at a time."
Ultimately, the film that matters the most is what's produced on gameday, and for Tolzien and the first-team Colts offense, the first two games of the preseason have been quite the challenge. Through those two games, Tolzien has completed 12-of-19 passes (63.2 percent) for 94 yards.
"We're still not where we need to be," Tolzien said after the Cowboys game. "We need to start faster. We need to get first downs, which keep the momentum going and get the offensive rhythm going. We'll always watch the film and see where we can improve. But as it stands right now, the way I look at the game, we just have to start faster, get into a rhythm, keep our defense off the field and keep their defense on the field."
While Tolzien admitted that "as the quarterback, I put a lot of that on myself," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano insisted this week that the blame hasn't been placed on Tolzien's shoulders.
"Scotty didn't play bad," Pagano said. "It takes 11 guys, as you know, hitting on all cylinders offensively, defensively and then special teams. And so, Scotty did not play bad."
What's encouraging for the Colts' offense, however, is that after spending the last couple weeks primarily fine-tuning things as a unit — and doing virtually no opponent preparation — Saturday's third preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers will feature their first opportunity of the year to prepare specifically for an opponents' defensive schemes.
The third preseason game is typically known as a team's "dress rehearsal" for the regular season — which begins for the Colts Sept. 10 on the road against the Los Angeles — and Tolzien said he's excited to see what a few days of preparation will do for the offense.
"I would say you always want to prepare your best, but we are allotted more time to prepare this week," Tolzien said. "It's been more of a training camp mode the past couple weeks where we're focusing on just team improvement against our defense, so there's a little bit more prep that goes into Pittsburgh this week. So I don't think it changes your urgency, but you do get to see a few more looks from the defense."
Tolzien also has plenty of game film to study when it comes to the Steelers; his only start last season came Thanksgiving Night against Pittsburgh at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Though the Colts would lose, 28-7, Tolzien hung tough, completing 22-of-36 passes for 205 yards with one touchdown, though he did throw two interceptions.
Personally, Tolzien said "it's huge playing the same team again" this week in the preseason, though he cautioned that an awful lot can change from one season to the next.
"Obviously they're going to have different stuff and different personnel — it's a new season — but, having played against them in a game, you kind of have a better feel for them," Tolzien said. "Does that mean I don't study as hard? No; I mean, you still have to go back and watch the tape and learn from your mistakes and everything like that. But the game experience helps."
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