Taking a look at what Chuck Pagano said in his press conference today...
- CB Vontae Davis's MRI on his groin came back negative and he is day-to-day. OLB Bjoern Werner (ankle) and DL Aubrayo Franklin (knee) are also day-to-day. Pagano said that DL Ricky Jean Francois is doing better and is day-to-day as well. Mike McGlynn, Cory Redding, and Sergio Brown should practice tomorrow. Pagano mentioned that OL Jeff Linkenbach played Sunday and is fine. CB Greg Toler played 19 snaps and was a bit sore, but they'll continue to bring him along and manage him accordingly. MY TAKE: Tremendous injury news. That's huge. HUGE. The Colts are really getting healthy entering the playoffs, and it is great news that all three players injured yesterday - Davis, Werner, and Franklin - are day-to-day. In a playoff game, that usually means they're going to be ready to go if needed. We'll see more definitively as the week goes on, but a great injury report on Monday to start the wild card week.
- On playing the same team twice in three weeks, Pagano said that, "I think at this point, everybody is going to play to their strengths. Certainly we've found some things in all three phases that are working for us. To get away from that too far would probably be egregious on our part. I think we just keep doing what we're doing and do it better and find something here or there that they haven't seen. I'm sure we'll experience the same thing. There's always the unknown that you've got to take into account." MY TAKE: I wouldn't expect anything that different from the Colts this Saturday. As Pagano said, at this time of the year it's about sticking to what is working and what they do well, and that's smart.
- Pagano was asked about the players-only meeting that Robert Mathis said was held after a blowout loss and he said that it is great to have veteran players like Mathis, Reggie Wayne, Cory Redding, Adam Vinatieri, and Antoine Bethea to hold players accountable and do what it takes to win. Pagano joked that after the meeting he was informed that they were letting him stick around for the rest of the year. MY TAKE: Pagano and the Colts are very privileged to have a number of great veteran guys who lead the team. This is just one of many, many examples of why.
- On if the Colts changed anything after some of the bad losses, Pagano said that they "Just stuck to the process, regardless. We had some great wins. We had some ugly losses, like you said. Win or lose, we always try to keep it right here. Stick to the process. And that's what we did." MY TAKE: He's keeping things in perspective. That's something that we all, including myself, need to try and do as well. Things are never as bad or as good as they seem.
- Robert Mathis stressed accountability earlier in the day. Pagano was asked about it: "It's everything. It's everything. The expectations are what they are. These players hold each other to a high standard. We as coaches hold ourselves and the players to a high standard. But when the accountability comes from the players, from your locker room, that's when you really have something special. When you have guys like Robert (Mathis). We got a ton of them that hold each other accountable like that. Then you have opportunities to do great things." MY TAKE: Again - it's great having veteran leaders like Mathis. He knows how things work and he's absolutely right in stressing accountability to each other.
- Asked about how big it is that the Colts are at home this week, Pagano said that it's "A lot better than being on the road somewhere, I can tell you that." MY TAKE: Very true. I hope Lucas Oil Stadium is rocking on Saturday.
- Pagano, when asked about the offensive line (which looks to be fully healthy for this Saturday), said that figuring out who will start is like figuring out a Rubik's cube. He said that, "We'll put the best five out there that we feel give us the best chance to win the football game." MY TAKE: The best five would seem to indicate that Samson Satele won't be out there, but we'll see. My ideal lineup would be Anthony Castonzo, Jeff Linkenbach, Mike McGlynn, Joe Reitz, and Gosder Cherilus - though I doubt that is what will happen. Regardless, it's nice to have options again after so many injuries.
- Pagano said that he stresses to the young players that the playoffs is one and done. He said that it's no time to put added pressure on themselves and that they just have to stick to the process, but they also need to be aware that it's one and done. MY TAKE: It's easier said than done, not putting added pressure on themselves, but at least Pagano is saying the right things. I think this team will be fine in this area come Saturday.
- Asked if there was added pressure to win a playoff game this year after a loss last year, Pagano said: "No pressure. We're not going to put any added pressure on ourselves. We sat in the locker room a year ago at this time disappointed after a loss to Baltimore. We had a talk and I told those guys, ‘Remember, remember this feeling because we're going to be right back here. Just remember the feeling that you have right now and let's make sure that once we get in position to do this again, that we don't have the same feeling coming off the field.' So no added pressure. We're not going to, whatever. We've been able to as coaches, and especially our players, have been able to keep the blinders on, stay focused and try to not let any of the clutter and the noise affect our preparation or the way we play." MY TAKE: I guarantee you that those players who have ever been a part of a playoff loss remember the feeling. I also guarantee you that they don't want to feel that way again. For a young team like the Colts, it's nice to have that extra motivation there.
- On having momentum entering the playoffs, Pagano said that it's "better than the alternative." MY TAKE: He's right. No matter what you think of the impact momentum has, Pagano is right. It sure beats entering the playoffs cold and playing badly.
- Talking about Andrew Luck and the importance of having a good quarterback, Pagano said that, "if I've said it once, I've said it 1,000 times, I don't care what level, if you don't have a quarterback, we're probably not sitting here having this press conference. You got to have a quarterback in order to win at any level. It's obviously very comforting to know that we've got a great quarterback in Andrew (Luck) and a guy that is obviously more than capable of leading this team to a world championship." MY TAKE: Hey, I'm glad Pagano admits that you win with a quarterback nowadays. Looking at what the Colts have done on the field recently and now Pagano's comments, perhaps he has come around from his run-first emphasis, at least a bit.
- Pagano mentioned how offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton has done a great job this year, especially considering all of the injuries to key offensive players. MY TAKE: I agree. Pep has done a very good job overall considering injuries and especially in recent weeks - and the best thing is that he's getting better.
- Pagano said that it's never about the opponent but about themselves and what they do. He said that they need to take care of the little things. MY TAKE: Absolutely right. I love that attitude.
- Since it is Black Monday today, Pagano was asked about it and talked about how it makes him think about how fortunate he is to have a job and that he always feels bad for the guys who lose their jobs. He said that everyone understood when they signed up for the job, but said it is the ugly side of the business. MY TAKE: It wasn't that long ago when the Colts were a part of Black Monday, firing Bill and Chris Polian. It's never fun, no matter who it is, and I'm happy that as an analyst and a fan I don't have to cover something like that this year but rather can focus on an upcoming playoff game.