Just before doing a Wednesday afternoon conference call with Tennessee Titans media, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was advised reporters would inquire about his head coach, Chuck Pagano, making critical comments about the star passer's four turnovers in Monday's home loss.
Luck didn't know anything about it.
And it didn't matter, either.
When asked the same question by Indianapolis media later, Luck assured he and Pagano have a healthy respect for each other and are on the same page, and that's doing whatever the Colts (0-2) can to win a Sunday road game against the Titans (1-1).
"They asked me if coach clarified the comments," Luck said of the conference call. "No, he doesn’t need to clarify any comments that are misconstrued. I think I know where I stand in (Pagano's) mind. I think he knows that I respect the heck out of him. Great coach. Love everything about him as a man, as a coach. That’s all I really have to say about that.”
Just minutes earlier, Pagano repeated his clarification on a Tuesday conference call that his three-time Pro Bowl passer doesn't deserve all the blame for six turnovers in two games.
"He’s going to be fine," the fourth-year coach said. "We need to play better. Got to block. Got to communicate. Got to throw. Got to catch. As a football team we’ve got to play better.”
Luck absorbed the most hits of any quarterback in the league last season, and the next quarterback on that list wasn't even close at 20 fewer. So far in a pair of double-digit losses, the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets have blitzed Luck repeatedly and he's taken 16 hits, according to game stat sheets, including 11 Monday night.
After the Jets game, Pagano bemoaned his team's five turnovers, including Luck's three interceptions and one lost fumble, by saying the Colts couldn't beat Zionsville High School with that many turnovers. The coach also suggested Luck should be used to the contact because he's been dealing with it for three years.
“You just got to take care of the football. Make great decisions and take care of the football," Pagano said. "It’s not that hard. It’s not trigonometry.”
When Pagano was asked Wednesday about what his quarterback can do better, the coach reiterated it's the entire offense's responsibility to help out the quarterback.
“I think we’ve all seen the level that Andrew plays at and can play at," the coach said. "It’s not just the quarterback, it’s across the board. Every single position. Like I said, you’re going to win some plays, you’re going to lose some plays. Does he have to make good decisions? Absolutely. Does he have to manage the game? Absolutely. That’s the role of the quarterback. It’s the hardest job on the football field.”
Luck, who has been sacked 102 times in 50 regular-season games, said during the offseason one of his top priorities was cutting down on turnovers. He led the NFL with 40 touchdown passes opposite 16 interceptions last season. He also set dubious career-highs with 13 fumbles, six of them lost.
“One-hundred percent I’ve got to improve," the quarterback said. "There are no excuses. I do realize at the end of the game, you’re trying to make something happen and sometimes stuff bounces the wrong way. The fumble, the interceptions, I have direct control on what happens with the ball. As a quarterback you do, it’s in your hands. I haven’t made the best decisions and missed some throws. Shoot, you work on it. You go out in practice and you work on it and see how you can do in the game.”
Offensive right tackle Jack Mewhort acknowledged Luck's line needs to protect the passer more consistently.
"As an offensive lineman, I just can talk for us as a unit, it's tough to hear your quarterback was hit how many times," the second-year pro said. "It's our job to make sure that doesn't happen, so that hurts.
"It's just a matter of getting back to work this week and fixing the mistakes that we can and handle the things that we can handle and control the things that we can control. We have confidence that we can do it. It's just a matter of recognizing and going out and executing."
Mewhort said Luck never says a word about getting hit.
"He's all positive," Mewhort said. "That's just part of his personality. He's never one to get negative and turn on guys. That's why he's one of the great ones. We appreciate him for that. Even if he doesn't say it, we know that we need to do a better job."
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.