Taking a look at what Chuck Pagano said in his press conference today...
- Chuck Pagano said that wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey will probably be the only player who is not available for this Saturday's game. MY TAKE: DHB was also the only player who did not practice Thursday. In other words, the Colts are very healthy right now.
- Safety LaRon Landry is still going through the concussion protocol, per Pagano. MY TAKE: Landry was a full participant in practice the past two days, so it seems that the remaining protocol left is for Landry to be cleared for game action. It is very likely, however, that Landry will be available for the game this Saturday.
- Pagano said that Darius Butler will play a "major role" this weekend guarding the slot receivers, as the Patriots use them quite a bit. Pagano also talked about the value "They design stuff. They do a great job of designing plays to get those guys open. They're always on the move. They're not just sitting there stationary, if you will. They do a great job of stacking receivers and two-man stacks, getting in bunches, all sorts of things to get those guys loose to where you can't get your hands on them. They do a great job of that." MY TAKE: Pagano is right - Butler's role in the slot will be a key on Saturday and is something that a lot of people will probably overlook, but not Pagano.
- On blitzing Tom Brady, Pagano said that, "I think you got to do a great job of mixing it up. It can't be something that you do all the time. You just got to do a great job of mixing it up. Our guys have to do a great job of disguising. There's nothing that Tom hasn't seen, as you know. Got great recall. Again, they do a great job with their system, the way they run their offense of trying to get you to show your hand, so to speak. We got to do a great job pre-snap and post-snap, whether we're playing coverage or going after them." MY TAKE: On blitzing Tom Brady, I say that if the Colts don't get pressure on Brady, they won't win. Robert Mathis will also be a very important player in this game as the Colts have to be able to generate pressure.
- Asked about preventing a letdown after such an emotional win last week, Pagano said: "Letdown? There's only eight teams left. Do you know how hard it is? You do, to get to this point. Our guys are focused and very, very excited about this opportunity. For two years now, they've done as good a job as anybody I've been around as a team of being able to put things behind them and move on."
- Pagano talked about how as you go deeper in the playoffs, your margin for error shrinks. He said that the Colts need to do a good job of protecting the football and preventing penalties. "We're chasing perfection, trying to every single day that we come in here," Pagano said. "And so we're going to go try to play the best game that we can possibly play." MY TAKE: The Colts set franchise bests for fewest turnovers (14) and fewest penalties (67), so they have proven they play smart and don't beat themselves. That becomes much more important in the playoffs.
- Pagano was asked about the fact that several players have said it is nice having a head coach who has personal relationships with players, and he said, "I think it's everything. It's very important. The culture and environment that we've tried to create here since we got here, we wanted one obviously where guys are excited to come to work every single day. And we wanted one where it's based on trust, loyalty and respect. And to me building a bond, building a family atmosphere, building those relationships, to me it's everything. It's our foundation. It's how you get through tough times. If you don't have that, if you don't have that foundation, can you come back from 28 down to win a playoff game? No chance. So to me, it's one of the most important things that we have going for us." MY TAKE: The players love Pagano. It is clear to anyone paying attention to the team that's the case. That needs to be taken into consideration when evaluating Pagano, too.
- Asked if Andrew Luck's read option play last week on fourth and one was a designed run for Luck, Pagano said, "You remember the San Francisco game, right? Where he didn't hand that ball off on the goal line and ran that one in? So I don't know (laughs). That guy, he's a brilliant guy. He's crafty as heck. Guy makes plays. He made a heck of a decision on fourth-and-one."
- On Deion Branch and the decision on whether or not he will be active this Saturday, Pagano said that "it will just come down to whether we feel he feels comfortable. We feel comfortable with what he knows at this point if we need to use him."