Tony Dungy: "We Have To Go Win"

Colts head coach Tony Dungy spoke to the media on Tuesday about the challenges of playing on Thanksgiving, WR Reggie Wayne, the development of DE Robert Mathis, and more!

General comments...

"We are getting started on a short, quick week. Really, this is our big preparation day. I thought our concentration this morning was good and our guys are ready for the task of going down there on a short week and getting ourselves a win. So we're excited about the challenge and looking forward to it."

On how much work the team can get in a little over one day of practice...

"You really can get most of the work in. Today will be like a normal Wednesday. It won't be any different, and then tomorrow, we have to get really what we normally do on Friday and get our short-yardage and goal line and two-minute and red zone and all of the special situations. So you have to balance getting all of that work in with giving them enough rest. We'll take a look at it, but I think in two days we'll get pretty much what we need to get done."

On if he would rather not play on Thanksgiving...

"It's one of those things that it's a tradition in our league, and the way I kind of look at it is if you're organized and you get yourself a win, then you've gotten one win ahead of everybody else and you get to watch the games on Sunday and relax and second-guess and it can be good for you. That's the way you have to approach it, that we are in it, we have to go win, and if you win, then it becomes a bonus because you have some extra time off."

On if he kept notes from the 2004 Thanksgiving game and if they will use the same schedule...

"We did and we've had that schedule a few times before, and what I've found out is it's not necessarily the schedule—we think that gives our guys the best chance to win—but it's really the players you have and how they can focus and zero in and do things different. Everybody's a creature of routine and some people can't handle getting out of the routine. I think our guys can."

On if he is more careful with the young guys because they weren't with the team in 2004 for the Thanksgiving Day game...

"No, what they have to do is, this is a week where you can't always learn by doing because you don't have as many plays, you don't have as many reps in practice. So you have to learn by watching the other guy, you have to learn by watching tape. You can't say, ‘Hey, we have a young guy, so we have to run these 15 plays so Anthony Gonzalez can run every route that we're going to run in the game.' He has to understand that we're going to run it, you may have to watch this other guy run it and understand that you're not going to get that actual practice time."

On if there is a difference in how games are played on short weeks, i.e., more penalties, etc....

"Not really. I don't think you ever know how it's going to turn out. The last times we've had them, we've done pretty well and played well. To me, you can't worry about it. You can't let it be an excuse for non-productivity. You have to just expect to play your normal game, function well and know that, again, in most of those situations games are lost as opposed to won, and you have to do the things that prevent you from losing them."


Reggie Wayne
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On if he has seen any difference in WR-Reggie Wayne's play with the absence of Marvin Harrison and other receivers...

"No, I really haven't. He's gotten some more opportunities maybe, but he's just (been) playing a little bit better every year since I've been here. He played at a Pro Bowl level last year and he's just playing a little bit better."

On WR-Reggie Wayne moving around more...

"We are (moving him around more), just out of necessity, and we're doing things because of only having certain receivers up and not enough receivers, not enough tight ends. I think we'd all be happy if Reggie could be back on the left and Marvin on the right and Anthony (Gonzalez) in the slot with Dallas (Clark). But it hasn't been that way but maybe one or two games this year."

On if he thinks he knows what he has on defense after 10 games...

"I think we're a pretty physical group and I think we're a group that's not going to make a lot of mistakes. We've been able to play some pretty good offenses well in stretches. I don't know that we've been tested the way we may be tested coming down the stretch. I like the way we're playing, I like our confidence level and our swagger, and I think when you're fast and physical you always have a chance to be pretty good."

On eliminating the big plays...

"We have. That's been the big difference. What that is, is just everyone doing their job more regularly and not having the breakdowns that we experienced last year. And if we continue to do that and don't think we have to do too much, I think we'll get the same results."

On the development of DE-Robert Mathis from a situational pass-rusher to full-time player...

"Robert is a guy who when he was young, we just kept playing him in those situations and saying he makes a lot of plays, he does a lot of things. And wherever we put him, on kickoff coverage, blocking his guy on returns, rushing the passer, and then we got him in there some and they started running at him, and he held his own and made plays. Early in his career he would have 15 plays and five tackles. It took us a while to get smart and figure that could extrapolate out to 20 tackles if he played 60 plays. He's just a good football player. We knew that, and our thing was always balancing productivity and not wearing him down. But he's an exceptional player."

On if he is surprised that Mathis has been able to hold up against the run...

"I'm not surprised he's been able to hold up against the run. I'm surprised that the more we played him—and he always said that the special teams took more out of him and if we took him off special teams he would be able to play a full game with no problem—that's probably been the biggest surprise to me, that he's been so durable at his size. But in terms of being productive, every tape we watched he was beating bigger people, and he's continued to do that."


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