Taking a look at what Chuck Pagano said in his press conference today...
- Cory Redding's MRI on his shoulder was negative and he might miss tomorrow but will hopefully be back on Thursday. Pagano said "that's good news. We were thin anyway at the defensive line spot." MY TAKE: That is incredibly good news, as the Colts couldn't afford to lose Redding. Take a sigh of relief now after his MRI came back negative.
- Ricky Jean Francois, Sergio Brown, Montori Hughes, Hugh Thornton, Jeff Linkenbach, Daniel Adongo, and Joe Reitz all might practice this week as well, as Pagano said they are all coming along and progressing. Reitz passed the concussion tests. MY TAKE: The Colts are getting healthy at the right time. That's great to see.
- Asked if this is the type of defense that can win a championship, Pagano said: "Yeah, no question about it. Obviously gaining momentum. Playing with a ton of confidence right now. They're having fun. There's certain plays that are being made out there that are sparking this defense and this team." MY TAKE: If the Colts defense plays the way they did on Sunday, then absolutely. That was championship defense. Now we just need to see it consistently.
- Pagano talked about how the Colts take care of the football well and why that is: "Guys are taking care of the football. I think anything you emphasize, you're going to get. We emphasize that, along with penalties, in training camp all the way back to training camp. We talk about penalties, not beating yourself, not shooting yourself in the foot, those types of things, taking care of the football, win the turnover battle. That's one of the first talks that you give. I always talk about if you're plus-one, plus-two, plus-three, what your winning percentage is. It's, other than the score, it's the second-most tell on wins and losses, is turnover margin. Coaches do a great job of teaching the fundamentals of how to take care of the football. The guys are paying attention to it." MY TAKE: The Colts forced four turnovers on Sunday and didn't turn the ball over. That's winning football right there.
- Asked about how big the win was for confidence, Pagano said that, "It was huge from a confidence standpoint. I think our guys felt good all along... It's huge for us because we've kind of rode the roller coaster. Early in the season, we didn't. But to be able to win back-to-back games, then win a game like that, again it speaks volumes about our coaches and players and the job that they've done. Again, momentum is huge right now." MY TAKE: The Colts are beginning to get hot at just the right time. That's a very good thing and gives reason for Colts fans to have hope entering the playoffs.
- Pagano talked about the offensive line and the adversity they have faced: "They're used to it, obviously. I think the more adversity you face sometimes, it tends to bring you together. Again, I think the coaches, Joey (Gilbert) and Hal (Hunter), do a great job with those guys. And the players have found a way to put the pieces together week-in and week-out and it doesn't really matter who's up and who's down and who's available and who's playing where. They all know they all have position flexibility and know what to do." MY TAKE: The offensive line started it's seventh different lineup on Sunday, and they played very well. The line of Anthony Castonzo, Xavier Nixon, Samson Satele, Mike McGlynn, and Gosder Cherilus protected Andrew Luck very well and continued a recent streak of good offensive line play.
- Talking about Donald Brown's 51-yard touchdown run, Pagano said that, "He looked like Peter Pan walking the sideline, didn't he? (Laughs) It was a great run, because he broke a bunch of tackles even to get there. And then what was more impressive is Rick (Da'Rick Rogers) was blocking downfield and then T.Y. (Hilton) came out of nowhere and blocked No. 21 right at the end of that play and somehow, some way he kind of just tip-toed along that sideline and got in the end zone. Fortunate that it held up. Shocking, but it did. So we'll take it." MY TAKE: I love how Pagano said it was "shocking" that the replay held up, since refs seem to regularly get replay reviews wrong to hurt the Colts. Regardless, it was a great run by Brown. And, as Pagano noted, the receivers did a great job blocking downfield for Brown.
- About Griff Whalen, Pagano said that, "he's been, obviously, living in the weight room. We always kid him about he's always doing squats and doing all the lifts in there with Roger (Marandino) and spending a lot of time in there. Obviously it paid off yesterday, broke a bunch of tackles. The guy's accountable. He's trustworthy and he's made plays two weeks back-to-back." MY TAKE: Whalen had a great game on Sunday and has been very impressive in his two games back on the active roster. I wrote about Whalen earlier today here.
- Pagano raved about Jerrell Freeman and his play recently, saying that, "just like everybody else, he's playing with a great deal of confidence. He's flying around. He's having fun. He's making plays. He's a versatile guy, he can do a lot. He's great against the run. He's doing real good against the pass. You blitz him, he comes around and gets a strip-sack, force the fumble on the quarterback. He's doing great things right now. He's an athletic guy and he's got the ability, obviously, to make those plays. It's a good time for him to get hot." MY TAKE: Freeman is having a terrific season and Sunday was perhaps his best game. He was phenomenal.
- When asked, Pagano said that he had not heard back yet from the league on an Anthony Fasano fumble that wasn't ruled that after the replay, but Pagano added that he and the rest of the coaches certainly thought it was a catch and a fumble. MY TAKE: They weren't the only ones to think it was a catch and a fumble. I'm pretty sure everybody but the ref thought the same thing.
- Talking about Bjoern Werner's improvement, Pagano said that, "I think he's obviously going in the right direction. He's gaining confidence. Like talking about Jerrell (Freeman) and a lot of these other guys on defense, he's playing extremely fast right now. He's not thinking. Any time you come back from injury, you haven't had a significant amount of snaps. He's very comfortable with the calls. He's very comfortable with his role right now. Again, I go back to if you're not thinking out there, you're able to play extremely fast. I think the game's slowed down for him a lot and obviously his numbers are going in the right direction." MY TAKE: Werner is playing well right now - the past two weeks have been perhaps his two best games in the NFL. He has 2 of his 2.5 total sacks on the season in the past 2 weeks.