The first nine weeks of the 2015 NFL season have been draining and confusing for the Indianapolis Colts.
They started 0-2, then rolled off three straight wins against AFC South opponents despite Andrew Luck missing two of those games, and then lost three in a row as they hit the toughest portion of their schedule, keeping games close but never pulling out a win. Then on Sunday, they upset the previously undefeated Denver Broncos, their first non-AFC South victory of the season.
That left the team on a positive note heading into a much-needed bye week. Though 4-5 is not where anyone on the team wanted to be at this point, the reality is that the Colts are still in first place in the AFC South and are coming off of their biggest win of the season, one that hopefully will help them turn their season around. First, however, is the bye week, where players can get rested up both physically and mentally and prepare for a late-season push.
After meetings on Monday, head coach Chuck Pagano dismissed his team for the rest of the week, not expecting them back at the Colts' complex until Monday morning at 7:00 a.m.
"Hit the reset button but stay in it physically, stay in it mentally," Chuck Pagano told reporters about what his message to players was. "Take care of yourselves in both those departments. Be with your family, get reacquainted with your loved ones, all that stuff. Travel safe if you're traveling and make sure you're home by 6:00 p.m. on Sunday and in this building at 7:00 a.m. on Monday morning or else."
As for what he will do during the bye week, Pagano joked it off by saying that, "I have no idea" and that he was just focusing on the next five minutes, but he then added that he will "hopefully spend some quality time with my better half."
It's a lot of time off for the Colts, but it's a refreshing break from the normal grind in the middle of the season, and the players were happy about the bye seeming to come at just the right time.
"I can't imagine a more perfect time to have a bye week," linebacker Robert Mathis said. "Right in the middle of the season. Guys need it. We all need it. You can use the extra rest because we have a tough stretch coming up. So rest up because it's time to get after it."
Cornerback Darius Butler agreed. "Yeah, it's the perfect time," he noted. "Whenever you get a bye week in the middle of the season it usually works out well. We're 4-5 right now, basically got a half of the season left. Get some guys healthy and take some time to get away and get back to work."
Tight end Jack Doyle also echoed the sentiments about a later bye week being nicer. "Yeah, the timing seemed to be pretty good," he said. "I'm glad the bye week is late. Early bye weeks would not be as fun I think. It's good to kind of, at this point, it's nice to be able to kind of relax a little bit for a couple days and then you'll be kind of rebooted coming back and carrying the momentum will be big for us."
For the Colts, there was talk for much of the season about whether the bye week would bring with it substantial changes to the coaching staff, with head coach Chuck Pagano's job status in serious jeopardy. The firing of Pep Hamilton last week made Pagano being fired mid-season much less likely, but a win on Sunday basically sealed it. Instead of dealing with a coaching change, the Colts are instead coming off of their biggest win, hoping that it carries forward to a strong second-half surge. And perhaps the nicest part about it is that not only do they get confidence from their win on Sunday, they also now get time to rest and hit the reset button before returning to the team next Monday to prepare for the Falcons.