Colts Preparing for Detroit Offense Rather than Quarterback, Dungy Says
INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts' opponent this week has faced uncertainty at the quarterback position a lot this season. The Detroit Lions are facing it again this week.
That has made the week a bit more difficult for the Colts.
Veteran Daunte Culpepper, who has started the last five games at quarterback for Detroit after signing as a free agent, is more doubtful than probable to play against the Colts Sunday because of a strained shoulder, Lions Head Coach Rod Marinelli told reers Wednesday.
Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said that has meant extra preparation time.
"That's been a little tough on us," Dungy said Wednesday afternoon as the Colts (9-4) prepared to play the Lions (0-13) at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis.
"We've had to look at different segments of their year to look at the different quarterbacks. Culpepper has played for the most part recently, so that's what we're assuming. We went back earlier in the year to look at some of the other guys."
Culpepper, a first-round selection by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1999 NFL Draft, spent his first seven seasons with the Vikings, then played for Miami in 2006 and Oakland last season. He announced his retirement earlier this season, but signed with Detroit following a rash of injuries at the quarterback position.
He has played the last five games, but injured his shoulder late in a 20-16 loss to the Vikings.
Dan Orlovsky, who started four games in October and early November, has missed the last five games with a broken right thumb, and the Lions' third quarterback is Drew Stanton, who sustained a concussion earlier this season.
The opening-game starter, Jon Kitna, is on injured reserve.
"We're going to have to defend their offense and not really be concerned with who the quarterback is," Dungy said.
After running a pass-oriented offense under former offensive coordinator Mike Martz – now with the San Francisco 49ers – Dungy said the Lions are now running a more power-running, play-action passing-based scheme.
"It has changed," Dungy said.
Dungy, who worked with Lions Head Coach Rod Marinelli when Marinelli was the defensive line coach in Tampa Bay and Dungy was the head coach there, said although the Lions have yet to win, they have played well enough to do so at times this season.
Detroit, which began last season 6-2, played four consecutive games in October and early November that were decided by eight points or less, and this past week, they led NFC North-leading Minnesota 6-3 at halftime and 13-10 at the end of the third quarter.
"Detroit played very, very well last week," Dungy said. "They had a situation where they kind of got hurt on a replay reversal at the end of the game and it seems like things like that have been happening to them."
Dungy said studying Detroit on tape this week revealed a team better than its record.
"We saw a lot of good individual performances," Dungy said. "It hasn't translated into a lot of teams wins yet, but there are some things we have to get working on and have to be concerned about. I think our focus is going to be good. I'm pleased with the work so far. I think we'll be ready to go. . . .
"Those guys have a lot of incentive to win. You could see it in their play last week, so we're going to expect their best shot."
Marinelli joined Dungy's staff in 1996, Dungy's first season with the Buccaneers, and the two coached together until Dungy left in 2001. The Buccaneers started 0-5 in 1996 before finishing the season 8-8.
"Our first year in Tampa, we lost our first five games and that seemed like a lifetime, so I can't imagine what 13 is like," Dungy said. "I've talked to Rod a few times during the year.
"If anybody can make it through this, he can."