A Weekly Conversation with Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy
Each week during the 2008 regular season, Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy will discuss topics pertinent to the Colts with Colts.com.
Question: The Colts were off this past week and as you usually do, you spent some time during the bye weekend watching games around the NFL. What did you see?
Answer: You kind of watch for other trends and what you see happening. You watch six or seven games over the weekend and it comes down to a few plays. It comes down to one team just executing a little bit better, not having the errors that cause you to lose games, and then after you watch that, you say, 'It kind of does reinforce what we've always believed.'
Q: You had two bye-week practices last week where you really wanted to get back to basics and fundamentals. That having been accomplished, what do you want to see out of this team this week as you prepare to play Houston?
A: On Wednesday, I'd really like to see us have that zeroed-in look, to focus on the details and do everything right in preparing for Houston – really see that energy and that focus of being on top of the details.
Q: It sounds like you'd like to see it sort of look like things usually look the week of the regular-season opener. You mentioned last week that you wanted the bye week practices to have a training-camp feel in terms of getting back to basics . . .
A: That'd be a good way to put it. We've had a little training camp time and now we have to put it all together and turn that into a performance on Sunday.
Q: You never really got that feeling leading to the opener this season with so many injuries and kind of an unsettled situation . . .
A: We had people in and out of the lineup – different things going on and new guys playing, so to have four or five practices where we are zeroed in with the group that's going to be playing – hopefully we can get that done.
Q: Through three games, the offense has scored 13, 18 and 21 points, but in the game before the bye, the Colts produced three efficient touchdown drives against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Coming out of the bye, do you feel like things are funneling toward where you want to be offensively?
A: It is. I thought we had two good practices last week that are going to help us down the road. I think it's going in the right direction.
Q: But you never worried too much that that wasn't going to happen . . .
A: We just had to make sure we can put enough of it together to do that. It's tough when you have a couple of guys in and a couple of guys out of the lineup. We have to stabilize that part of it and get moving forward. I think it will happen and I wasn't too worried that it wouldn't.
Q: Defensively, there were concerns before the bye about the run defense. What are you looking at on that side of ball coming out of the bye?
A: We have to just really, again, not stray too far from what we do, not stray too far from our roots, and just get back to the hustle and the physical play and getting a lot of guys to the ball. We have to realize that that's going to take care of it no matter who it is that's out there.
Q: People always talk about the 'Desperate Team Syndrome' in the NFL, the theory that a team that needs a victory will play harder than one that theoretically doesn't. But knowing how you approach things, you probably don't want the team thinking of this game as one in which it enters "desperate" . . .
A: I'd rather have us approach it as getting ourselves back to what we know we can do. Yes, you have to do that sooner rather than later. You don't want to wait until Week 10 when it really is too late, but it's not, 'Hey, we have to win this game for the sake of winning,' but the quicker we get ourselves playing the way we can play then the better chance you have of getting a streak going. That's what we need right now.
Q: You look at this like you need to string some victories together over a long period rather than needing one victory this week . . .
A: We'd like to get something to build on.
Q: On Monday, when you were asked about scoreboard watching, you immediately said that that's not what the Colts need to do right now. In your opinion, it's early enough in the season that if the Colts start doing the things they normally do, the standings will take care of themselves . . .
A: It's funny. You watch the different games and you listen. We can't figure out what's wrong with San Diego and all of a sudden they (the Chargers) win two in a row. Dallas is going to definitely be the best team in the league and they lose at home. Denver is 3-0 and Kansas City may not win a game and Kansas City beats them (the Broncos) handily. It's way too early to try to pinpoint who the good teams are and who isn't. It's just really a matter that at some point teams are going to start to string together some really good performances back to back. That's when you'll start to take notice and say, 'This team looks pretty good.' Tennessee has done that. They (the Titans) have been the one team I've seen that has played well every week. Consequently, they have four wins put together.
Q: But there are plenty of division games remaining – including two against Tennessee – that there's time for the Colts to get back in the race if they play the way you expect them to . . .
A: That's more what we need to worry about – can we put together a four-game stretch where we're playing really good ball every week? If we do, we're going to be fine.
Q: It sounds like you take the same approach Colts President Bill Polian does. He says he never looks at statistics early in the season because not enough has happened to draw any conclusions . . .
A: It becomes who forms a pattern and who does it over the long haul. You're going to get injuries. You're going to get things coming out of training camp positively or negatively. Generally, you see over a month or two of things going in a certain direction and that's when you look and say, 'Hey, this team has it going well,' or, 'Hey, there are some danger signs even though they may be winning games.' Our Super Bowl year we were winning games early, but there were some danger signs.