Dungy Hopes For Happy Homecoming

In a sense, Tony Dungy will be going home this weekend.?  Dungy, the Indianapolis Colts' head coach since 2002, began his NFL playing career with Sunday's opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, in 1977. He played cornerback and helped win a Super Bowl for the Steelers from 1977-78 before being traded to the San Francisco 49ers.

After ending his on-field career, Dungy was then hired to join Chuck Noll's Pittsburgh coaching staff in 1981. He served as the team's defensive backfield coach from 1981-88, adding the Steelers' defensive coordinator title in 1984.

But the roots run deeper than that. His wife, Lauren, is a Pittsburgh native and a longtime Steelers fan. Pittsburgh's current head coach, Mike Tomlin, spent one season as Dungy's secondary coach (2001) at Tampa Bay.


Dungy (21) tries to bring down Tony Dorsett during Super Bowl XIII
AP Photo

"I am looking forward (to returning to Pittsburgh for Sunday's game). They have a very tough football team and they are playing well. That part won't be so pleasant. But it will be great to see the (Heinz Field) stadium, see everyone and get back there," the Colts coach said this week.

Dungy loved playing for the Steelers and came to appreciate the team's fans. But he knows that his playing time in Pittsburgh won't mean a thing this week.?  "It's going to be a tough game. They give you a lot of stuff out of the 3-4 (defensive scheme). They bring a lot of different people, linebackers, safeties, cornerbacks (during their pass rush) and you have to be aware of a lot of things," he said.  "It's a very physical offense running the ball at you. It'll be a different style of offense. But, again, we're getting into a stretch where we're playing all these AFC teams that are right in the (playoff) hunt. It's almost like we have to win every week. And we'll need the same type of performance (this week)."

The Colts have faced the 3-4 defense in two earlier games this season in wins over Baltimore and New England. But Dungy said preparing for the Steelers' version of the 3-4 takes plenty of preparation. "It's a little different than New England's. It's the same type of thing, they try to create confusion. They bring a lot of different people, but this one has just a lot of heat from their outside (linebackers) and guys that you have to block," he said.

"They're very active and they're very fast. So it's a pretty good combination they have going, fast and physical. They don't give up a lot of big plays. Baltimore gave you a lot of things where you said, 'Hey, if we can figure this out, we have a chance to get some big plays.' But these guys haven't given up many."


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