From ESPN 1070's Kevin Lee:
On the decision whether to rest guys or not, Dungy essentially said he understands the decision will be considered a good one if they win and a bad one if they don't. He doesn't believe resting players had any impact on previous losses in the opening game of the playoffs. He cited examples of playing well and winning coming off of byes or for the first regular season game (when everyone sits out the last preseason game). In regards to momentum - nothing that happens the previous week determines what happens in the next game. As it often does, he refers back to how Chuck Noll handled the Steelers teams. He joked that he only got to play at the end of seasons when the stars were resting, and the Steelers won multiple Super Bowls doing it that way.
I'm going to repeat what I said back in January of this year: Dungy resting starters in the third quarter of the last regular season game in 2007 against the Titans had nothing to do with Indy losing to San Diego in the playoffs that year. Two weeks after that Titans game, the Colts came out in the playoff game against SD red hot and had the Chargers reeling early. SD battled back, took the lead, but then gave it up again on the late 56 yard TD reception by Anthony Gonzalez. Manning was brilliant. Receivers were killing SD's secondary. The defense injured Tomlinson and knocked Rivers out of the game.
But, without a consistent pass rush because Dwight Freeney was out and Robert Mathis was hurt, Billy Volek stepped in at QB and guided a game-winning 4th quarter TD. Ball game.
Now, the one example of "not resting starters equals success" that everyone clings to is the Giants last year. They played starters against the Patriots in the last regular season game (and lost). They then won four playoff games in a row, including the Super Bowl. Lost in this sentimental myth is the fact that New England also played their starters in that meaningless last regular season game. They beat the toothless Jaguars two weeks later and then looked sluggish in barely beating the Chargers before getting beaten up by the Giants in the Super Bowl.
So please, spare me all the "resting starters" whining.
This game coming up on Sunday against the Titans is utterly meaningless. "Pride" don't help you win playoff games. "Bragging rights" are for losers who have never won anything (that's why they brag). And anyone who insinuates that the Colts don't play games to win needs their head looked at. Seven straight playoff appearances, five AFC South titles, and a Super Bowl; thank you very much.
Again, as Dungy said, the Noll led Steelers won four Super Bowls, and they always rested starters in meaningless games leading up to the playoffs. You want to second guess Chuck Noll? Hope you like looking stupid.
If the Colts want to rest guys like Dominic Rhodes, Freddie Keiaho, or Dallas Clark because they are nicked up, that's fine. If Pierre Garcon and Roy Hall need playing time, why not give it to them? Might as well have them play now in case Indy may need them in a few weeks. You don't think Jeff Fisher is thinking the same thing? Think again. Jeff Fisher may be a douche, but he isn't dumb. He knows that if his 36-year-old QB gets hurt, his team has little chance to win a playoff game.
Everyone, please shake yourself away from these dumb, silly myths peddled on you by people who do not know or understand football. Look past all the phony posturing and fake bravado. The Colts are a tough, veteran team that has a ton of playoff experience. They know how to prepare for the playoffs and know what is expected of them. The key to winning in the post-season isn't playing starters in meaningless regular season games.
It's being healthy at the right time, and if resting starters gets you healthy, then rest them.