BY Tom James Tribune Star
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — If anybody expected Indianapolis Colts Chuck Pagano to start spewing fire to his players in the wake of Sunday’s 40-11 National Football League loss at Arizona, they would be largely disappointed.
Pagano prefers to stay positive and on an even-keel, although he quickly admits that the Indianapolis coaching staff is a bit frustrated.
That being said, the Colts are still in command of the AFC South with a 7-4 record and a two-game lead over second place Tennessee. The Titans are this week’s opponent at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Of course, that cushion in the division race could become a lot tighter if Indianapolis were to lose to the Titans.
“There were some positives [in the Arizona loss]. I know that’s hard for some of you to believe,” the Colts coach said Monday.
“It’s time to go back to work. [We have a] huge game coming up at home. We’ve got to put [the Cardinals game] behind us and get ready to work on Wednesday.”
Indianapolis has registered a 2-2 record since the team loss the services of veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne to a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Wayne is sidelined for the remainder of the season.
In those four games, the Colts have started slowly. Indianapolis was able to battle back in securing AFC South road victories over Houston and Tennessee.
But in the other two games, against NFC West opponents St. Louis and Arizona, the Colts got behind too quickly and by too much to mount any sort of serious rally.
Indianapolis was outscored 78-19 in those two losses. So the work of the coaching staff continues.
“Coaches are working overtime. We start meetings at 8 and the special teams guys are in at 7. [Our] coaches are putting in hours you don’t normally,” Pagano voiced.
“[But] no matter [if it’s a] win or [a] loss, we stay [even]. Maintain the process. Point out mistakes, move on.”
He knows how important it is to secure a win over the Titans this week. An Indianapolis victory over Tennessee would move the Colts closer to securing the division title.
“[The game] is huge. It can’t get here, obviously, quick enough,” Pagano stressed. “This team is resilient. It’s always been able to bounce back.”
Since Pagano became head coach prior to the start of the 2012 season, Indianapolis has recorded an 8-0 record in regular-season games immediately following a loss. The Colts have done it three times this year.
Getting back to basics -- Pagano is trying to get his team out of its current funk. Indianapolis is 2-2 in its last four games and continues to start slow offensively and struggle defensively.
“We are going to figure out a way to get back to being the team that we were [earlier in the year with wins over San Francisco, Seattle and Denver],” the Colts coach said.
“We are obviously missing some guys, that won’t be out there [now], when we won those games. Again, we make no excuses. We have to get it fixed and we have to get it fixed in a hurry.”
Veteran safety Antoine Bethea agrees.
“People on the outside are always going to question. But we believe in this locker room,” Bethea explained.
“We believe what we have. It’s a long football season. The good thing about the NFL is you another week to come out and play ball.”
Getting off to much quicker starts would obviously help.
“I think we’ve been outscored 73-9 in the first half. We obviously have to figure things out and figure them out in a hurry,” Pagano said. “We got a huge ball game coming up, and we got to figure some things out and find a way to get this thing rectified.”
Better offensive line play, both in run blocking and pass protection, is crucial.
“There’s blood in the water right now, and until we get it fixed they are going to keep coming at us,” the Colts coach said.