Tony Dungy Press Conference

Tony Dungy talks to the media in his weekly press conference about the Colts' loss to the Chargers, his future with the Colts, the decision to pull WR Marvin Harrison out of Sunday's game, and much more!

General comments...

"These are always the toughest days of the year, no matter when it is, if it's the last day of the regular season, the last day of the playoffs, or whatever. You have that team meeting and you reflect back on the first team meeting that you had in July to get things started and all the excitement and anticipation, and you reflect back on all the work that was done, and then it's always the disappointment of the season ending. We're no different today, a very disappointed group of guys. It's tough sometimes to reflect back that you did have a good year, that you did do a lot of positive things, you saw a lot of growth and a lot of improvement from your players because you had the disappointment of not winning that last game. And it's even probably a little more disappointing when you don't play your best or what you feel is your best. But a lot of times when you don't play your best you have to give that credit to the other team and feel like maybe they did something to cause that. I have to give a lot of credit to San Diego. They came here in tough circumstances, they lost a couple of their key players, had some people banged up, and they stayed after it. Even when they got behind in the fourth quarter, they came back with some backup guys in there and played well enough to win. So we have to give them credit. We're a little disappointed, but in this game you don't get do-overs, you don't get repeats and you don't get second chances. What we have to do from here is do what we've always done, come back in March and start over from square one and get ourselves ready to have a great 2008 season. I think that's the attitude in our locker room right now. We have a tremendous group of guys to work with, couldn't be prouder of a group. We had to fight through some adversity at times this year and we had different people in and out of the lineup, but I thought we hung together as a team and we played very good football for the whole regular season, but unfortunately not good enough in the playoffs.
Yesterday, we had a good plan. I thought offensively we had some good things for their rush, and we kept their rushes under control for the most part, but we said we wouldn't be able to turn the ball over. We actually got in scoring territory four times that we didn't get any points out of, and that was a big part of our loss. But I thought we had a good plan and executed it fairly well other than the turnovers, and then the last time we were down there where I elected to go for it on fourth down. Defensively, it wasn't our best game. We tried to take away their running attack, did a fairly good job of that, but they hurt us in the passing game, hurt us on third down and made some big plays which we hadn't given up all year. So that was uncharacteristic of us. I thought our special teams probably played to a standoff. (Mike) Scifres got a great punt off on the last punt of the game that they needed, and that forced us to start that two-minute drive backed up a little farther than we wanted to. But all in all, I thought they played hard, we played hard. I think they executed their plan just a little bit better than we did, and it was a disappointing end to the season.
As far as my situation, I know a lot of people want to know. As I said before the game, my wife and I will sit down and evaluate this week and talk about it, talk it through. We'll probably do a lot of praying about what we want to do. I haven't met with (Colts Owner and CEO) Jim Irsay (today), I met with (Colts President) Bill (Polian), and we'll probably come to some decision this weekend and be ready to move forward on Monday one way or another. So that's kind of where it stands. I'm hoping to be back, but we'll see what happens."

On what would persuade him to continue as coach of the Colts...

"There's a lot of things that would. Number one, working for Jim (Irsay) and Bill (Polian), what we have here, the group of players that we have. I still enjoy it very much. I love coming to work. I'm not burned out at all. So all those things are really, really positive, and if there's any place you want to work, it's here. The other side of the coin is I've done it a long time, we have some kids that I need to be a good dad to, and I have to make sure that I have the energy and everything to devote to both of those jobs, and I don't want to short-change either one. I don't want to short-change the Colts, and I certainly don't want to short-change my family. So, that's what we'll evaluate and we'll see where it goes."

On if he sees himself stepping away from coaching and coming back in a couple of years...

"No, I don't see myself stepping away and coming back. This is going to be my last job, and this is where I want to work, if I work. There's no better situation that you could have. And again, it's not that I need a rest or feel that something's going on that I just need to get away from for a couple of years. We'll just see where it goes."

On him having the experience when he first came here of coaching and splitting time away from his family and if that gave him the idea that it can work...

"That is doable. Yes, it can be done. My dad actually did that for a long time when I was in high school and my siblings came up. It can be done. We did it for a couple of years, it worked out fine, so I don't think that's going to be the determining factor at all."

On speaking with Colts Owner Jim Irsay on Friday and if he was interested in any options to stay that came out of that meeting....

"Jim is one of the best people that you could work with. He's all for this team and all for his employees, and he wants to see everybody do well. So he did mention a lot of things to me. The big thing I have to decide is I have to give the team what it needs and what it deserves. And if I can, I'll be back."

On if yesterday's game will have any impact on his decision...

"No, I have to not let that have an impact because obviously, last year after the Super Bowl, you could think, ‘Well, this is the time to step down, we have this great high.' And today you would say, ‘We can't finish like this, we have to come back and make amends for this.' So you have to get away from that, the emotional part of it. Without dragging it out into a soap opera, just make a good, rational, prayerful decision."

On if he decides to step away, if he will lobby hard for Colts Assistant Head Coach/Quarterbacks Jim Caldwell...

"That's (Colts Owner and CEO) Jim Irsay's decision. If he asks me, I'll tell him what I think. But I think that's his call. He knows how I feel about Jim, and Bill (Polian) knows that. That certainly would not be my call."

On if he's not coaching, what he will be doing next year...

"I don't know. It's not like I have these plans or I want to do this or that. It's all just really seeing which way the Lord directs me and what's going to be best for my family, what's going to be best for the Colts."


Tony Dungy
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

On if this has been one of his most rewarding seasons...

"It really has. It really, really has. It's been fun in a lot ways, to see a lot of our young guys grow and that talent develop. It's been fun to see guys work to overcome adversity. Everyone talked about the post-Super Bowl hangover and how tough it is to come back and have a great year. For our guys to win 13 games and play the way they did and see the defense come on and the offense just get that continuity even though we had people in and out of the lineup, I thought our staff did a tremendous job. So it was rewarding."

On who he will seek counsel from, besides his wife...

"I have a few people that I bounce things off of. I talked to some of those guys late last night, people in coaching, people that I respect a lot. But it's going to be more of a family decision. It will be really our family sitting down and probably talking through it and praying about it."

On if his children will get a vote on whether he continues to coach or not...

"Yes, but the under-18 votes don't really count as much."

On not knowing his situation, but a lot of things being in place with this team moving forward...

"It really is. I told the team in there just before coming in here that there's no question in my mind that we'll be a better team next year. And the way we do things here with the Colts is we count on our players improving. We don't count on going out and getting other players to make us better. I thought that happened this year, that the guys who were on our team improved. We got some tremendous help from our draft choices and college free agents and Kenton Keith, but that's not what we necessarily count on. I think we have young guys in place who played better by the end of the season that will play much better next year. I don't see any signs of our veteran leadership slowing down at all, so I think we can improve."

On if he's not burned out, why would he think of stepping away...

"It is really just making sure that I'm doing the best job I can do as a dad. And I do think that's my number one job. And if I'm doing that, can I still do enough to be a good coach for the Colts? If I can, I'll be back, if I think I can."

On WR-Marvin Harrison's comments seeming like he wasn't where he wanted to be health-wise...

"I don't think he was 100 percent, obviously, and he came back and gave everything he had. We played him for as long as we could play him, and he did a good job for us. Was he the same as he was opening day? I doubt it, but like all our guys, I thought he gave everything he had. That's just the way it was. They had some guys in the same boat. I don't think Antonio Gates was 100 percent and some of their other guys, too, so it was just that type of game."

On why WR-Marvin Harrison wasn't in at the end of the game...

"Marvin went as long as he could go. He told me it was getting a little bit weak, (but) he thought he could continue to go, but couldn't run as hard as he would like and cut as well as he would like. At that point, we just felt that Devin (Aromashodu) would be better being in there 100 percent."

On if his personal loss a couple of years ago will enter into his decision of coaching...

"No, not really. Obviously it's something you're always going to think about, but that is not the issue. It's just more what I have to give to the four kids that we have at home and we have one older daughter that is not living with us (at home), but just making sure that I'm doing a good job being a good dad and a good husband. That's the bottom line."


Tony Dungy and LaDainian Tomlinson
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

On his thoughts walking off the turf at the RCA Dome following the game...

"I was really thinking about the last game at the dome, number one, and we wanted to go out with a win. We knew Saturday night it was going to be the last game (at home). That was disappointing, not giving our fans, who have been so spectacular the last five or six years, not sending them out with a victory. I was thinking about the fact that we weren't going to advance on and have a chance to play next week in the championship game. More of my thoughts walking off there were about the great games that we've had the last six years in the dome."

On if he and his wife talk about his plans during the season or wait until after the final game...

"We kind of talk about it at the end of every year. We talked about it after the season last year and made a decision jointly to come back, and we knew we'd re-visit it again this year. We haven't really talked about it too much since the game last night."

On the late Bill Walsh saying one of his regrets was leaving the game too early, and if that has entered into his mind...

"It is, and that's why my wife and I hadn't really talked about it too, too much as the season was going on. We kind of said that, that we would get away from the emotional part of it and give it a couple of days to die down and try not to make a decision the day after a game, that maybe you don't think through all of the way."

On what he told his team at their meeting...

"We talked about the year and how we developed and how proud I was of the way that we played as a team, the way we grew and the way our young guys came on. We talked about how I feel we're going to improve and where we can go next year and the ways you have to do that. We all left with kind of that bittersweet disappointment, but I think our guys will, they always have, they've bounced back from that. They've come back to the offseason program very determined, and I think we'll do the same thing."

On what he told the players about his upcoming decision...

"I told them just exactly what I told you. I know there is a lot of speculation about it, so I just wanted to let them know where it is. I said, ‘My wife and I are going to pray about it, and I want to be back, I want to be with you guys, and the only reason I won't is if I don't feel like I can give you what you deserve.'"

On if he has had any players tell him they want him to stay...

"Yes, in their own way, yes. You'd like to think the guys want you to stay. You don't always know that, but hopefully they do. And I really do want to, so we'll see, but the guys have expressed that."

On what kinds of things he would like to do if he is not coaching...

"Probably just more of everything. I do quite a bit now, but I don't get to do as much as I would like. And you're restricted by your schedule, obviously, but if you didn't have that type of schedule you could get involved with more things. It would be volunteer work for the most part, working with young people more than anything probably."

On if there were certain plays or certain parts of the game that were haunting him last night as he tried to sleep...

"No, just really it was everything that we talked about. We said that we had a good plan, we were confident that we would move the ball. The last time we played them, we missed a couple of field goals and we turned the ball over twice in the red zone. (We said) that we had to score when we got in the red zone. We got down there and we fumbled one ball, we threw two tipped balls and got intercepted and we went for it one time on fourth down instead of kicking a field goal. So there were four chances that we had to score that we gave away, and it's tough to do that against good teams. Defensively, as a defensive coach, you feel like any time you have the lead in the fourth quarter, you should win the game. And to their credit they came back with LaDainian out and their quarterback (Philip Rivers) out, and they mounted a drive to win the ballgame. You don't feel like you should let that happen the way we had been playing defense. It was a combination of just not being as sharp as we needed to be. So you think about what you do. This is three bye weeks that we haven't won at home. The first one was before I got here (in 1999), but you go back and evaluate that, how we practiced and what we did and try to see if there's anything that comes through that way. Those are games you don't feel like you should lose."

On if possibly having the bye or off week may have hurt this year, instead of playing through and maintaining a rhythm like last year...

"Not really. I thought we needed this bye. I thought it was perfect for us to get some guys healthy and recovered. The last time we had it (against) Pittsburgh, we didn't really play as sharp and we were playing from behind. We came out and we weren't good. But (yesterday) we got the opening drive, we took it down and scored. We get an interception, we're moving the ball again and we have a chance to take a 14-0 lead. So it wasn't like we weren't playing well right away and we had to find our rhythm. It was just that we didn't play a sharp enough game."

On if the lack of a pass rush without DE-Dwight Freeney is a concern...

"That's something that we have to address. We lost Dwight and coming down the stretch when Robert (Mathis) was out also, we didn't have the type of rush. I think we only had one sack in the last four games, and our defense is predicated on pressure on the passer. So we have to look at that, different ways that we can do that, if we don't have those big guns."


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