Colts Still Seeking Consistency After Six Games, Dungy Says
INDIANAPOLIS – All in all, Tony Dungy didn't see much different.
Dungy, in his seventh season as the Colts' head coach, said when reviewing the tape from a twenty-point loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday afternoon, he saw pretty much the same things he had seen most Mondays this season.
And in this case, Dungy said that's not a good thing.
A lot of penalties. A lot of mental errors. A lot of inconsistency.
And as a result, a lot of questions at time in the season when the Colts aren't accustomed to such things.
"Looking at our game, and our last three weeks, it's probably very similar," Dungy said Monday afternoon, a day after a 34-14 loss pushed the Colts to .500 after October 15 for the first time since 2002, Dungy's first season with the team.
"It's up and down, some good things, but not consistent enough. In watching the tape, that's where we were. The penalties obviously were a big part of it, and some little errors that you can't afford to make against a good football team that's playing well.
"We basically shot ourselves in the foot. We're going to have to bounce back from that."
The Colts, who had won two consecutive games following a Week 4 bye week, had won their first two road games this season, rallying from deficits of 15 and 17 points to beat Minnesota in Week 2 and Houston in Week 5, respectively.
On Sunday, after leading 7-3 entering the second quarter, the Colts allowed the Packers 31 consecutive points en route to their first road loss since November of last season.
"I can tell you what we have: 'When we play bad, we're going to lose,''' Colts center Jeff Saturday said Monday. "If we turn the ball over, get penalties – all the things we did yesterday . . . if we continue that path, we won't win very many football games. If you play well, you win games.
"We have a good enough football team that when everybody plays well and does their jobs we can win football games and we can beat good football teams.
"It's all in our hands and the way we do it."
The Colts, who had been penalized 11 times for 84 yards the previous week in a victory over Baltimore, were penalized 12 times for 110 yards on Sunday, and the Packers returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the second half.
"It's just (a matter of) playing smart football," Colts middle linebacker and defensive captain Gary Brackett said. "Watching the film, a lot of times we killed ourselves with penalties when we had drives stopped in third-down situations. We just have to be a smarter team."
Said Colts defensive end Raheem Brock, "We just made a lot of mistakes this weekend. It wasn't like us to have all those penalties and make the mistakes we had. We just have to find a way to get back on track and be more consistent each week. . . .
"Mainly, it was just penalties. We just put ourselves in the hole too much."
Dungy on Monday called the penalties probably the No. 1 issue facing the Colts.
The Colts, after perennially being among the league's least-penalized teams in Dungy's tenure, currently rank in a tie for 23rd in fewest penalties allowed.
The Colts this season have committed 46 penalties for 347 yards compared to 67 for 515 in 16 games last season.
"You just can't afford to give good teams second chances," Dungy said. "You can't afford to make yourself go longer than you have to to score. That's what we've done the last two weeks. We've always been a team that's prided ourselves on not getting penalties.
"We work on it. We believe if you use proper techniques, you won't get the penalties."
The Colts (3-3) the five-time defending AFC South champions, slipped three games behind division-leading Tennessee (6-0), 34-10 winners over Kansas City Sunday. They are tied with Jacksonville for second place in the division.
The Colts before this season hadn't been out of first place in the South since October of 2004, and never in the division's seven-year history had they trailed by more than a game.
The Colts will visit the Titans on Monday at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.
"Tennessee is playing as well as any team I've seen in the NFL," Dungy said. "We can't have a repeat-type performance. We have to improve and get better.
"It's something we're not used to around here, playing so up and down."
The Colts, who started at least 5-0 in four of the last five regular seasons, started 13-0 in 2005, 9-0 in 2006 and 7-0 last season. This season, after losing the opener to the Chicago Bears, the Colts rallied from a 15-point third-quarter deficit to beat Minnesota on a late field goal then lost to Jacksonville at home on a 51-yard field goal with four seconds remaining.
After a bye week, the Colts rallied from a 17-point deficit at Houston with less than four minutes remaining to even their record, then turned in their most complete performance of the season – a 31-3 victory over Baltimore – before Dungy said they again struggled for consistency in their first trip to historic Lambeau Field in nearly a decade.
"It's been tough," Brackett said. "Every week, it has been something different. We just haven't been able to put our finger on what it has been."
Said Saturday, "For any of us, as inconsistent as we have been this season has been a first for all of us. We had a good week of practice coming in. We had a good plan for Green Bay. They didn't do anything that was surprising or shocking. They just outplayed us.
"We just played bad football."
Considering the team's quick – and often consistent – starts in recent seasons, Dungy said the Colts' situation seven weeks into the season is unusual.
"That's always your hope, that you're clicking into high gear and you're doing things exactly right at all times," he said. "This year, we haven't. Usually by this time of year, we're playing pretty solid football. We're up and down. We have good quarters or good drives, but we haven't had the continued improvement and playing better every week we need to have. We have to practice well, practice hard, practice sharp and hope we develop that. . . .
"Right now, we're 3-3. We're a team that wins one, loses one, plays well part of the time, not well part of the time. We're just not a consistent football team right now. We have the makings of a good team. We have enough individual components to be good, but right now, we're not clicking on all cylinders. . . .
"The first six weeks have been that way. That is a little unusual for us. We could always count on a certain type of performance. We weren't necessarily always going to win, but you always felt good about how we're going to play. I've been as surprised as anyone at the penalties and some of the inconsistency. It's just techniques and doing things right all the time."
Said Saturday, "We've got to get better. We have to play better football. You have to go out and do it, not talk about it, not beat your chest, not hold team meetings or all those kinds of things. You need to go out and show up on Sunday or Monday and play better football."