While the Indianapolis Colts are in a bit of a funk right now, losing two of their last four games by a combined score of 78-9 (38-8 to St. Louis, 40-11 last week at Arizona), don’t expect the team’s offensive and defensive coaching staffs to make changes, whether it’s scheme or personnel.
Some tweaks here and there? Probably. But coaches are often a stubborn lot. If they firmly believe in their systems — whether it’s been working perfectly or been having a few hiccups along the way — big changes are few and far between.
Particularly at this point in the season as it pertains to the Colts. Indianapolis comes into this afternoon’s game (1 p.m., CBS Sports) with the Tennessee Titans with a 7-4 record and a perfect 3-0 mark in the AFC South.
And while a win today wouldn’t lock up the division title for the Colts, it would put the team one win (or one more Tennessee loss) away from securing the AFC South crown.
As for making a lot of changes in what Indianapolis has been doing offensively and defensively, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano isn’t going to panic.
“We’ll turn every stone and exhaust all resources, but at the end of the day, no matter what you do, what wrinkles you throw in there, you’ve got to execute and you’ve got to do it better. You’ve got to play better. You’ve got to coach better. I’ve got to do a better job across the board,” Pagano said late last week.
“We’re not going to beat people with gimmicks and this, that and the other. You beat people with sound football – tough, hard-nosed, physical, disciplined. Play with great fundamentals, great technique, great effort, all those things. I know our guys are tough and physical and they’re going to play with great effort. [We] just got to play more consistent for 60 minutes.”
One idea that has been thrown around, though, included Indianapolis’ possible increased use of a hurry-up, no-huddle offense. The Colts have often used a quicker tempo after falling behind early in games this season. What about starting a game that way?
The primary idea behind going to a fast pace early is that it might help get a better rhythm going offensively. Indianapolis has struggled in recent weeks to get out of gates cleanly and it’s taken awhile to get into a rhythm.
“It’s been talked about. Again, we’re going to do whatever we have to do to come out of the blocks and start fast. No matter who we put out there to start the game, we got to start fast. We got to play well early and we got to play well often,” the Colts head coach said.
Whatever Indianapolis wants to do offensively, getting a more consistent effort from the team’s beleaguered offensive line would certainly help.
The same goes for the Colts’ defensive line, which has been more porous over the last month than at the beginning of the season.
Pagano has seen glimpses of strong play on both lines, but he wants to see more.
“We are [winning consistently at the line of scrimmage]. We’re just not doing it enough. You got to win the battle of the trenches on both sides of the ball,” he said. “You got to win more than your opponent wins. And so that’s what we aim to do.”
In order for Indianapolis to get back on track — to get back to playing the way the team did in wins over San Francisco, Seattle and Denver — Pagano has stressed less instead of more.
“Guys, it doesn’t matter what position you play. [You] can’t start pressing when things start to go awry. I think that’s what everybody does across the board, every position. Someone’s trying to make a play to get things turned around, to give us a spark, whatever we need to try and get the thing turned around when things start slipping away from you,” he said.
“You got to stick to your fundamentals, stick to your technique, stick to just doing your job and do it on a consistent basis. Do it for 60 minutes, don’t judge. It’s proven because we’ve been able to bounce back after these disappointing losses.”
Quarterback Andrew Luck, who played perhaps his worst game of the year last week at Arizona, knows that the team can play much better than it’s shown over the last month or so.
“I don’t think [we] get too rattled. [It’s] probably more of a sense of embarrassment, in a sense. You want to go out and not put that stuff on the field, that performance. Guys are excited to get back on the practice field. We know that’s where we’re going to turn this ship around, in a sense. It’ll be in meetings, it’ll be on the practice field,” he said last week, echoing his head coach.
“I think it’s doing what we’ve been doing better. I don’t think coach Pagano is one to freak out and change everything on an emotional whim. That’s not his style. I don’t think that’s this team’s style. We just have to do what we do better.”