Dungy: Mistakes and Injuries Raise Concerns

At yesterday's press conference, Tony Dungy addressed questions about the Colts' current injury situation, what changes it might bring, the impact of making mental mistakes, what the Colts have learned from the loss to San Diego, and much more!

General comments...

"After watching the tape, probably as disappointing as it was last night. I thought we had some young guys step in and play really well in big situations, and that was probably the one positive you could take out of it. But again, for me probably the most disappointing thing is that we didn't function smoothly in the fourth quarter in critical situations, just fundamental football. Obviously, we're not happy with the kick returns for touchdowns and the interceptions and the points that we left on the field and missed field goals and all of those things that cause you to lose games. That's two weeks in a row that we've had games there in the fourth quarter and we didn't quite execute. So we have to get to work on that, get back in our groove and just get back to playing sound, fundamental football. It's probably just like after the Jacksonville game last year or maybe after the Kansas City game in '04 where you just have to get back to basics. We can do that, and I think we will, and I think we'll play better football in the second half of the year."

On if he has any update on injuries...

"I really don't. They're coming in (today) to see the doctors. Don't really know where they are and don't know for sure if we will know. So we'll see what happens, but as of now we're preparing other guys to play and get ready for this week."

On which injury concerns him most...

"You hate to say it, but you really can't get concerned with who's not going to be able to play. I don't know how long they're going to be. What we have to do is get the guys ready who can play this week, and hopefully we'll get some of our guys back that weren't able to play this week, and we'll be fine."

On if WR-Marvin Harrison could have played if it had been a playoff game and when he expects Harrison to return...

"I think he would have played if it was a playoff game. What we're trying to eliminate is the Bob Sanders situation (from last season when he was injured) where you play one and then miss one, and play one and still have lingering effects. Hopefully that time will come. We had some other guys I'm sure that we would have let play if it was a playoff game, but we have seven more games to play."

On when he expects injured players to return, and who is most likely to return soon...

"What my approach has been with the team is we can't focus on, ‘When will this guy be back? When will this guy be back?' We have to get guys ready to play. We had a chance to win both of these last games with the guys that played, just like we won the Tampa game and the Jacksonville game and the Carolina game with the guys that played."

On at what point he considers bringing other players in due to injuries...

"Well, we were at that point last night when we only had 44 guys that could dress. But the problem with brining people in is you have to let some people go. We already have let two guys go (Luke Lawton and T.J. Rushing) that we'd like to have on our team. So our first word of business would be to try to get those guys back before we can think about bringing in other people unless we're ready to put guys on IR, and none of these injuries are that debilitating that we feel like we're going to lose guys for the whole year. So it's a fine line and how long can you go in this stretch? I don't know."

On the performances of OL-Michael Toudouze, Dylan Gandy and Jake Scott...

"I thought they did remarkable, and under the circumstances. Michael stepped up. He practiced all week, but we just activated him on Saturday. Jake went out and played tackle which he hasn't done in about three years. Dylan, we knew what to expect, but Jake and Michael went out there and blocked two Pro-Bowl rushers the whole second half when they were just teeing off and bringing all kinds of different pressures. They did a great job."

On how much he attributes the offensive line's play to OL Coach Howard Mudd...

"I think it's everybody. It's the way we do things. Clint Session went in and had a nice night and picked off two balls and played the running game well. And he's filling in for guys who are filling in for other guys who are hurt. So that's kind of what we expect, and I thought our guys did a great job."


Peyton Manning
Andy Lyons/Getty

On the reasons for the six interceptions—pressure, weather, new receivers?...

"It's a lot of things, probably a combination of everything. They put some pressure on us on some throws. Some, he's trying to make things happen at the end of the game, he's just trying to give our receivers a chance. You get down, you're trying to score, all of those things. It's uncharacteristic, obviously, for us to throw six interceptions. I'm not too concerned about that. I'm not too concerned about Adam (Vinatieri) missing field goals. If it comes down to having Peyton and Adam out there to win games for us, I'll take that every week. We'll get that squared away. Obviously, that's a part of it, just like the kick coverage, missed coverages on defense, penalties, all of those things we have to get corrected."

On if the San Diego game could eventually teach guys...

"I think our young guys saw it. Our veteran guys understand it. You play 60 minutes, you play no matter what the score is, you have to continue to play whether you're up 10 in the fourth quarter like we were the week before, or whether you're down 15, you have to play. And if you play hard good things will happen. We get paid to play hard. Most of the time we do, and last night we did."

On if he is more proud they had a chance to defeat San Diego or more disappointed that they were even in that situation...

"Probably disappointed that you put yourself in that situation to have all of those mistakes. You know it's going to be tough with some of the guys you have injured, so you have to play better. And we didn't do that. We didn't do some of the fundamental things that you need to do to win. So putting yourself in that spot was disappointing and we'll learn from it and come away a better team I think."

On before K-Adam Vinatieri's field goal, if there was any thought trying to get the ball to the middle of the field...

"Well, we didn't have a chance to. That's what we were going to do if we made the first down. We were going to take three kneel-downs, put it right in the middle and kick it with seven seconds left. And that's where I kind of second-guess myself. That's what I was planning to do. I never imagined that they would change the spot. So when it did happen, a couple of things if I had to do it over again, I might have gone for it. We have to make six inches, make the first down and then put it in the middle and kick the game-winner at the end. Then I took a timeout really out of spite more than anything else, and that's not the right thing to do. I wanted to talk to the official and find out what happened out there, and that cost us at the end. We needed that extra timeout. So just a good lesson for me that you can't let your emotions control what you do out there."

On if the mistakes on special teams are mental or physical...

"A little bit of both last night. They're not mistakes of effort, but just fundamental football and doing the right thing. We have to get that corrected."

On if it is more difficult substituting on special teams as opposed to offense or defense...

"Special teams is tougher because you're dealing with a lot of guys who haven't done it very much. When running backs have to step in, they've run the ball before and they've pass protected. When receivers have to step in, they've run routes and caught the ball. But not everybody has run down and covered kicks and tried to figure out where the blockers are coming from, where the return is going and doing it at full speed. Most of these guys haven't done it very much in college even, so it's learning as you go and a little bit of a trickle-down effect, but there can't be any excuses."

On being even more disappointed now more so than after last year's game at Jacksonville...

"Oh, much (more). The Jacksonville game was one of those games things happened, but these last two weeks, when you lose leads in the fourth quarter and do things we don't characteristically do in big games, it's not what we want to be all about."

On the tight race in the AFC and AFC South...

"No question. We were off to a good start, and I've always said it's how you're playing in November and December. Right now, we're behind Pittsburgh because they only have one AFC loss. We're one game ahead in our division, so what looked like two weeks ago that we could give ourselves some cushion with some wins, we've kind of given away our margin for error. So we have to get off on another streak and string some wins together and stay in front of these teams."

On if he is more concerned now than he was last year when the team lost three games in December...

"I guess I'm always concerned when we don't do the fundamental things that you need to do to win. I tell the team all the time that most games are lost, very few games are won. I think we've lost a couple now, and you hate to see that happen. We'll continue to work on that, but as far as being talented enough to win and determined enough and practicing hard enough and preparing hard enough, we're doing all of that. So I feel good about where we are."


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