Now we know the Indianapolis Colts’ turnover troubles aren’t for lack of daily reminders about the importance of not committing them.
“Every day, every second, there’s not a meeting that goes by, there’s not a practice that goes by that you don’t talk about ball security,” head coach Chuck Pagano said Thursday. “Every single day, eliminate friendly fire, don’t penalize yourself, foolish penalties, ball security. You’ve got to take care of the football.”
The Colts have had their issues with that this season. Although they have the NFL’s No. 1 offense, just four teams have more than the Colts’ 15 turnovers. And that’s already one more turnover than all of last year, when the team had the fewest in the league.
As third-year quarterback Andrew Luck reminds, there’s a fine line to turnover awareness. Dwell on it too much and that can make a passer tentative. That’s not how he got to leading the league with 2,731 passing yards, 351 more than the next passer, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger.
But Luck knows he makes some bonehead throws. While he’s quick to admit his mistakes, and does so to a fault, nine interceptions are a red flag, as are the Colts losing six of 11 fumbles. Luck has already reached his interception total of last season.
The Colts (5-3) visit the New York Giants (3-4) on Monday night. Luck doesn’t need to be told about where the Giants’ 11 interceptions rank.
“They’re leading the league in interceptions,” he said. “I know we can’t turn the ball over and I can’t throw interceptions like I’ve done.”
Actually, the Giants are second in interceptions, one behind Buffalo. But you get the point. And the Colts hope Luck sure does. Giants safety Antrel Rolle and cornerback Prince Amukamara have three apiece.
On the flip side, the Colts’ offense is second in the league in points scored because it takes chances. And Luck’s 22 touchdown passes are tied with Peyton Manning for the league lead, just one shy of what the Colts’ passer had in each of his first two seasons.
“I don’t think you ever want to go into a game thinking, ‘Don’t throw interceptions,’” he said. “I think the approach is, ‘Throw completions,’ and that’s how I think I’ve approached it since I’ve been in the NFL. That’s how our coaches approach it because it is a slippery slope into playing a little too nervous or too conservative.”
So perhaps it’s more about risk versus reward, knowing when to take the risk but also understanding that the safe play can be a reward.
Luck had two interceptions — including a pick-six — in the Colts’ 51-34 loss at Pittsburgh Sunday. Five of his interceptions have come in the three losses. And the Colts have lost one fumble in those games, too.
“All of our skill guys, we work every day on ball security,” Pagano said. “We know we can’t go on the road, hostile environment and turn the thing over. We’ve got to win the turnover battle. We’ve got to take care of the ball.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.