Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy's Post-Draft Conversation with Colts.com
Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy's recent conversation with Colts.com . . .
Question: First off, we're just past the 2008 NFL Draft. Along with being involved in the Colts' selections, you watched the entire draft unfold. What were your overall impressions this year?
Answer: It was interesting. You kind of thought after the Super Bowl that offensive linemen and defensive linemen would kind of take to the forefront and they did. I thought teams really sought to kind of help themselves in what they needed. I thought the teams in our division (Jacksonville, Tennessee and Houston) drafted pretty well and found ways to improve their teams. All in all, I thought it was pretty good. I was pleased, obviously, with what we did. We felt like we helped some areas we needed to help. Coupled with our free-agency group, I think we got some guys who are going to be just what we need, some young talent to infuse into the system.
Q: The Colts were without a first-round selection, and with an emphasis on offensive line, it wasn't a draft with a lot of skill-position guys. But was it one of those drafts you have to have every few years, where you get building-block type players, the sorts of guys you can't win without?
A: It was and I think if you couple this with the last few drafts for us, it really makes sense. We had been heavy on the skill-position guys since I've been here. We've drafted a lot of corners and we've drafted some receivers and some weapons on offense. We've drafted defensive linemen. To get some of our other positions - running back, offensive line, tight end – it really makes sense for us when you look at it in the context of the last couple of drafts.
Q: Talk a bit about this weekend's rookie mini-camp. Once again, the Colts will bring in rookies and a few young players for a weekend with an emphasis on instruction and acclimation . . .
A: This is really an introductory period for the rookies. We made this change a couple of years ago and it has been good, to just bring them up for two days. They have the attention of the whole coaching staff. It's just an introduction: 'Here's how we do things. Here's our terminology.' It's a very, very slow pace. They can go home and kind of digest that for two weeks while we work with the veteran guys and get them going. Then, we put it all back together two weeks from now. It has been a good process for us. Now, it's kind of, 'OK, we've got the building blocks.' Now, it's assembling the team and fitting it together.
Q: And although you don't do a ton of evaluating in this camp, you can sometimes get an early idea what you have in a player . . .
A: You will. You'll see ways you can utilize guys, 'Hey, this guy's a better receiver out of the backfield than we knew. This guy needs to work on certain things. We didn't see this part when we were watching it in the college game.' You'll get some feel on things like that. You'll get a feel for who really understands what you're doing. 'Hey, this guy might be able to play multiple roles for us.' That's kind of what you see, how you're going to use them down the line. But you really are just trying to introduce some material to them and get them comfortable.
Q: With the draft finished, this is close to the roster you'll take into training camp. Overall, what are your thoughts about where you stand heading into May?
A: We have a good mix of young guys. We have a number of guys who will be going into their second year who have played a lot, who have to continue to grow. We have a group that has to step up in terms of the leadership role. We haven't lost too, too many guys from last year's team, so it is a good mix. I think the guys are hungry, wanting to go back to work and feeling a little disappointed about last year, the way it turned out. We've had good work so far in April with our off-season stuff, so I'm encouraged about where we are.
Q: You're entering your seventh season with the Colts. In two weeks, the veteran minicamp will be held followed by the organized team activities. What theme will you be stressing as this period begins?
A: I told our veteran guys the challenge we're going to have is a lot of these guys have been six years now hearing the same message. (The challenge is) to pass that on to the younger guys, but to not let it get kind of old. We're not going to add a lot of new plays. We're not going to add new defenses. We're not going to do things much different. We have to have that same fire of doing them well and not let the message become so old hat that we don't take it in.
Q: Regarding that, are there any lessons learned from your experience with the Tampa Buccaneers that can be applied here? You were there for six seasons, from 1996-2001.
A: It's very similar. And at times, (lessons can be learned from when) we were in Pittsburgh (as an assistant under Hall of Fame Head Coach Chuck Noll) when you had a lot of veteran guys for a long period of time. It was kind of the norm back then. You had a more coaches who were there longer. It became the same thing. I have to change the delivery of the message – not change the message but how they hear it. As my mother would say, 'Say it differently. Say the same thing differently.'
Q: Along those same lines, entering your seventh season, is it odd to think that you've now been with the Colts longer than you were in Tampa?
A: It is odd. You have a lot of turnover. When you look at the (team) pictures, there are a lot of guys who aren't here. But there are a lot of guys who have been here four, five, six years . . . to keep them sharp and keep them challenged and give them a different thing that they're hearing, but at the same time not starting at Step 6 or Step 7, because they've heard the first five. We still have so many guys who need to hear Step 1. That's kind of the challenge for us, in how to do that when there some guys who really do have a good understanding of what we do and how we do it.
Q: Toward that end, how imant will your core veterans – players such as Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Bob Sanders, Garry Brackett – be in setting that tone?
A: They're critical. They are going to be the guys who are going to lead for us. I've talked to a bunch of those guys about what we're going to do, that we are going to start from Square One. They have to approach it that way. I've told this story to the team many times. It was one of the first stories I heard from (former Minnesota Vikings Head Coach) Denny Green. He talked about (former San Francisco 49ers and Hall of Fame quarterback) Joe Montana and coming to camp every year. He was in (Bill) Walsh's system forever and as they would lose coordinators, whether it was Mike Holmgren, Mike Shanahan, Denny Green, Bill Walsh – whoever was delivering, the first play was always 22 Z In. That was the first pass they put in. Denny just marveled at Montana, because at the end of the day, he'd have four pages of notes on a play that he has run for nine years. And he probably knows more about it in some years than the guy up there presenting but. But he'd come out with: 'This is exactly how Mike Holmgren wants me to run 22 Z In. These are the coaching points and here's the thing.' Because of that way that he did it, it kind of forced everybody to understand, 'Hey, this is how we do things. We put in plays one at a time. We execute them precisely. That's the 49er way.' I think we've got a lot of guys who are like that, that are the same way. When they come to work, it's, 'How are we going to do things Day 1?' They're going to have all the young guys look at them to say, 'This is the way the Colts do it. I think our guys take that seriously. When we get into camp and get into things, guys like Reggie Wayne and Jef