The bye week is often a week that coaches will use to reassess how things have gone up to that point on the season. While they do get some time off if they so choose, certainly, NFL coaches are always looking to improve and work on things. So what was Colts head coach Chuck Pagano's biggest takeaway from reflecting on his team's first nine games of the season? Turnovers.
"Probably takeaways, giveaways, turnovers," Pagano said Monday. "We're giving away too many and we're not getting enough, so that was one of them. That was a big takeaway."
Last year, if you remember, the Colts led the league in both fewest turnovers and fewest penalties, setting franchise records for both. This year the team hasn't been nearly as good in those areas. "Yeah, right now we're at 15 giveaways and 15 takeaways, so we're tied for 15th in the league at zero," Pagano said. "Last year we finished number one in the league both in turnovers and fewest penalties. I think we had 14 total turnovers last year, so we've got to get that obviously cleaned up and protect the football. We've fumbled 14 times and lost six to this point, and got nine interceptions. We've had opportunities, the defense has done a nice job. We've had a bunch of fumbles on the ground that we haven't gotten. We've got six picks and I think nine fumble recoveries, so it's something that we took a hard look at. We're better on third down obviously. Red area is very important, both sides. We've got to score touchdowns, and then we've got to do a better job defensively of forcing either turnover down there or forcing field goals."
Luckily for the Colts, they've been able to overcome a lot of their turnovers. "Yeah, by the grace of God, we've been able to escape some bad situations," Pagano said. "Good players." Even though they've been able to overcome most of the turnovers, the point remains that it's something the Colts want to work on.
Ultimately, the increased turnovers aren't as big of a concern as some might think because of the incredibly high volume of plays the Colts are running. With that said, however, it's definitely something to focus on coming out of the bye week, and the Colts will definitely need to protect the football this weekend. Unlike in some of their past games, the mistakes will be magnified by the Patriots' ability to capitalize on them. So while the focus is a good one in general, it's also a timely one for the Colts.