Dungy: "I Wasn't Sure How Sharp We'd Be"

Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy talked to the media on Monday about rookies Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden, his team's overall effort on a short week, center Jeff Saturday, and why games against the Jaguars always seem to be close.

(opening comments)
"Well, looking back at the tape it's really a satisfying win. It was a game I was concerned about coming off the short week and a real emotional, physical game against Pittsburgh. I wasn't sure how sharp we'd be. We practiced well, but you're always concerned about that. We came out and did a good job, played a very good game and did a lot of things well. The game itself, the style was a little different. There weren't a lot of possessions and you had to take advantage of what you got. I thought our defense keeping them out of the end-zone was really good for us, and then our offense taking advantage of those chances. We got to the point where we want to be. We've got one game against Jacksonville to clinch our division, and that's really the first goal coming in to the season. I think we came out fairly injury free, some minor things, but nothing that looks major. Hopefully we'll get Nick Harper back and a chance to get Joseph Jefferson back. We could be pretty much a full strength. We feel good about where we are three-quarters of the way through the year. Our guys have done a good job of maintaining their focus even in the midst of all this talk of the streak and everything. They really are practicing well and preparing well and taking things one game at a time. We couldn't be happier."

(on the play of DBs Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden)
"Marlin and Kelvin did a good job. Marlin's first chance to start and Kelvin's first real extended playing time in the regular season and they did a good job. They were physical and they hit and they kept the ball in front of them and it was a real positive debut."

(on how important the center position is)

"The center is very important to us. Number one, the center has to make a lot of line calls to get our blocking on running plays and passing plays sorted out. He doesn't really have the benefit of coming to the line of scrimmage knowing what that play is going to be. He has to look at the defense and try to think of what play we're going to get in to, and when he does get the play from Peyton, it is sometimes only three or four seconds before the play clock is running out, then he has to get the calls out and block his guy. It's a position you have to be physically good and mentally sharp and a leader. It takes a lot and Jeff [Saturday] has done a tremendous job."

(on if he thinks Peyton Manning is playing better this season)
"I think he is playing better. We had some situations where we put up some big numbers and teams played us a certain way, that they were coming after us and giving us a chance to throw those. He's had to deal with different types of defenses, with a lot of people looking at ways to shut us down. We've played different styles of games, but he's really been in control out there. We've not turned the ball over very much. He's putting us in the right plays and getting the ball to the right people. [Sunday] the second half he was 5 for 5 and we were consuming the clock and doing the things we have to do to win. It doesn't look like a great statistical day but it was really a well-played game."

(on if he was surprised to see the backup linebackers play so well)
"Not really. Those guys practice a lot and they're really good players. LB-Rob Morris started for us for three years while I was here, LB-Gilbert Gardner we've had high expectations for and LB-Keith O'Neil is another good player. It didn't surprise me and we played a lot of zone and those guys got a chance to be active and run around which they did."

(on why the games against Jacksonville are always close)
"They've played us as well as anybody in the division the last three years. They're a good football team, they're as hot as anybody right now, they've won 5 in a row, they've always played us close games and so we understand how it's going to be when we play them and we're expecting a great game and a lot of intensity. I think it will be fun for TV and fun for the NFL. They've always been good games."

(on why the streak is not a distraction)

"I think two reasons. We've got veteran players that are really good at preparing and they set the tone for everybody. Our Triplets (Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James) want to excel and they come in and work as hard as anybody. Our defensive guys really, really work. We run in practice and we do a good job in the video room. So I think the way we prepare helps us. Number two, is we haven't really won that ultimate prize yet. Everybody here wants to win a Super Bowl. That's what we talk about and I think we do a good job of laying out what we have to do to get that done. It keeps us focused and we understand that we really haven't accomplished a lot yet based on what we set out to at the beginning of the year."

(on if not getting a first round bye prevents a team from reaching the Super Bowl)

"It doesn't prevent you. It obviously makes it easier if you can get the bye. That's like winning a playoff game without having to play. The opponent that you're going to play, they had to play the week before, expend a lot of energy, injuries, and now you are sitting waiting on a team to come to you. It doesn't guarantee you anything, but it certainly helps, and when you come into the playoffs you want to have every advantage you can get."

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