Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano Conference Call
What are your thoughts regarding this Sunday's game? Some people think it's about more than a game.
"That's the outside. That's all the noise surrounding this deal. Our thoughts and the way we're going about this is it's a big, big game because it's the next game. We've got to take care of the things that we need to take care of. Control the controllables and that's our preparation, that's our practice, that's our meetings, that's our walkthroughs. Got a great football team coming in here and we have to take care of what we need to take care of. That's our preparation. Have a great week of practice and try to give ourselves a chance to play well."
With all the conversation after the AFC Championship Game, did it get lost with you that the Patriots had won by 38 points and the Colts weren't as competitive as anyone expected?
"No, not really. I don't think you ever forget obviously games like that. Certainly one that was one game away from going to a Super Bowl. I think you let something like that be your motivation to go back to work and do the things necessary to give yourself a chance. It's really, really hard getting to that spot. Disappointing to play the way that you played. But I think we all used it as motivation to make sure that we could do everything within our power, that if that opportunity ever came about again, that you would play better."
Did you ever talk to your team and tell them, don't make any mistake about the inflation of the footballs, we weren't good enough?
"I've said it before and I'll say it again, we've moved on obviously just like everybody else has moved on from that ball game. We got beat. They outplayed us and that's the end of that."
How come some of the players on your team don't use the word Patriots?
"I don't know what you're talking about and I don't know who you are referring to as far as our guys go. I know everybody in this building, all our players and all our coaches including myself have great respect for this football team coming in here – Coach (Bill) Belichick and the New England Patriots. Great football team, great coach, got a Hall of Fame quarterback, a bunch of great players. It's the next game. It's Week 6 in the National Football League and we're trying to do, again, everything that we can possible to prepare and do the things necessary to give ourselves a chance to play well."
How would you characterize the season that Andrew Luck has had to this point when he's played?
"We didn't play good as a football team period, Week 1 and Week 2. We caught fire right at the right time to get a win in Week 3 and we've been getting better ever since and everybody has. We're a team, we're a family. We win as a team and we lose as a team. I have to coach better. We have to execute better. We have to play better. A lot of things have to happen, it just doesn't fall on one guy."
What, if anything, have you done to defend the run? What specifically in these last three games has worked well in that area?
"We've gotten better and our numbers are better. I'm not a bean counter. At the end of the day, you try to keep people out of the end zone and scoring defense is huge. You want to play great situational football and stopping the run is always going to be paramount to any team's success. We've done a better job of that. I think our front seven interior linemen have played well to this point. I think they're gaining confidence and playing better. We're going to have to play really well come Sunday night. Again, we all know what's transpired and that's in the past and that's history. This team hasn't really played that team and they got some different players and we got some different players, but I like the direction we're going. Did a good job last week and the week before that against the run, against some good runners and things like that. We're going to have to be outstanding come Sunday night."
What do you remember about having Dion Lewis on the roster last year and what led to the decision to cut him?
"Yeah, that was a long time ago and I'm not going to elaborate on anything there. A great player playing at a high level right now. He's doing an excellent job running the football. He's a threat obviously in the pass game, No. 2 on the team in receiving. He's a matchup nightmare, whether they're bringing him out of the backfield or putting him out in empty formations and getting the matchup that they want and getting the football in his hands. He's playing at a really high level right now and he's extremely quick and has great vision and he's really a strong, powerful guy for a little guy. He breaks a ton of tackles, he's hard as heck to get on the ground. Again, we're going to have to do a great job with everybody doing their job and run fits and gap integrity and get multiple hats on this young man. He's a heck of a football player."
In your experience as a coach, what will you tell your team before the game about the opposing team playing with a lot of emotion?
"I don't think we have to. Guys understand it is a big game because it is the next game. Forget all that stuff, it looks like they have been playing, for whatever you want to call it for the first four weeks of the season, just look at the score differential and the way they've played and the way they're playing right now. We just have to, again, control what we can control, have a great week of preparation and give ourselves a chance and an opportunity to go play well. If we don't prepare and do the things necessary then we're not going to give ourselves a chance. Our guys understand what the game is. It is Week 6 in the National Football League. Got a great football team coming in here. A bunch of great players. All emotion aside and all that stuff and "Win one for the Gipper" speeches, this, that. Once the ball is kicked off it's a football game. They play outstanding in all three phases. Obviously well coached and disciplined, great fundamentals, great technique and got playmakers and they play hard and they play fast and they're physical as hell. We got our hands full."
Indianapolis Colts Running Back Frank Gore Conference Call
What are your impressions of the Patriots' defense thus far on tape?
"They play great. They play great together. As a whole they play great. They are a great defense."
What kind of impression has Malcom Brown made?
"He's great. He's a good player. For a young guy he plays well. I think as a whole defense you can tell they are very disciplined. You can tell the coaches do a great job with them with the stuff they do. They're going to be a tough game on Sunday."
Can you talk about how your team is trying to continue to build on the momentum going forward?
"It's great, especially this week playing against a great team. It will be great to take another step forward in the right way. We know it will be tough. Watching film they are very disciplined as a whole. Offensively they are very disciplined and defensively they are the same. Their coaches do a great job with them. We're going to go out there and just take it one play at a time and try to do the right things."
There's a belief that the Colts are still trying to find themselves as a group. Would you agree with that?
"Yeah, I would say that's true. But I think, it was great the way that, even though we haven't been playing great early on, we found ways to win. That's a plus for us. I think we take a small step the right way each week. I think last week, we played against the Texans, I think as a whole we took a big step. Hopefully we can keep taking steps in the right direction and hopefully we can try to get this win on Sunday night."
Do you view the opportunity in playing the defending Super Bowl champion as taking a major step forward?
"You being a champion, what do you think? Yeah, a big step (laughs). Especially a team that is very disciplined. They rarely make mistakes, so if you could beat a team like that, that's taking a really big step."
What impressed you with what the Patriots did defensively against Dallas last week?
"Like I said earlier, how they get to the ball. They play fast, they get to the ball. I'm going to keep saying, they're very disciplined. You watch them, they're very, very disciplined. No. 91 (Jamie Collins), he's a beast. No. 55 (Jonathan Freeny). I think people don't give No. 50 (Rob Ninkovich) a lot of credit. I played against him in San Fran and on film he's a tough player. I respect all of those guys."
How has the team been able to focus this week with all the distractions like Deflategate and extra attention surrounding this game?
"What distractions? We haven't really talked about that. Whatever happened last year, that happened. We're done with that. We just want to go out here on Sunday night, try to play as one and try to take another step in the right way against the champs."
What are your impressions of Andrew Luck this year? It looks like he's struggled a little bit this year.
"Me being here since the offseason, I think he is a hell of a football player. A great young quarterback. I think we as a team we have to learn each other. I think early on that probably was one of the keys that was hurting us is (it being the) first time playing with each other. It was kind of tough and different."
How do you feel that the running game has gone for you and the team?
"I think we've been doing a great job. Whatever opportunity we get we've been making the best of it. I think we still have a lot of room to grow and I think we will. We just have to keep going and we will be fine."
Does rushing for 100 yards in a game carry any significance for you as a running back?
"As a back, that's your job to run the ball, right? When you are getting 100 yards and your team is winning that's very special. That means that they can count on you. They can depend on you. So yeah it is special."