Dungy: It Comes Down To How You Play

Tony Dungy chatted with the media Wednesday as the team began preparations for this week's game with the Cincinnati Bengals. See what he had to say about the Bengals, get the latest injury news, find out what Dungy thinks about free kicks after a fair catch, and more!

"We're headed into December and getting ready for Cincinnati. They're much like Cleveland, in that they have some talented skill position players, they have a defense that tests you and they don't have a great record. What we have to do is look at the tape and look at the players that they have and not worry so much about the record as we prepare. Especially after last week, I think our guys will do that and we'll be ready to play well."

On how Cincinnati QB-Ryan Fitzpatrick compares to QB-Carson Palmer:

"A lot different type of quarterback. He gets rid of the ball fast, he's very mobile, I think he's been their leading rusher in three or four games, and he gave us problems in the pre-season by pulling the ball down and running. So, we're going to have to adjust our pass rush a little bit and see if we can keep him in the pocket. He has made plays and given people fits running the ball, especially."

On if the Colts have to focus on their game plan when playing teams with losing records late in the season:

"You have to do that. You can't get caught up in the record of the team that you're playing, whether they're 11-0 or 0-11. You have to look at what they do and you tailor your game plans to that. But it comes down to how you play and, especially in December, you have to be playing well and improving and that's what we're going to focus on."

On if the number of plays DEs-Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis play is dependent on situations:

"It is. The better we play on first down and the more opportunities we get to rush the passer on 2nd-and-long and 3rd-and-long, the more plays we make as a team. Not only those two guys, but our secondary and everyone, that's kind of how we're built. So, the onus comes on us to play well on first down. In the games that we do that, we're usually in pretty good shape. This past game (at Cleveland) we were good. We defended the first-down plays fairly well. For a team to have 20 third-down plays, that's quite unusual. Cleveland did a good job of trying to limit our big plays on defense. We didn't make many, but we made just enough."

On LB-Gary Brackett's injury:

"Gary has a lower leg, fibula, tibia injury. He's going to be out at least a couple of weeks. We signed Rufus Alexander, another linebacker, we have Buster Davis and Freddy (Keiaho) who can play in the middle. We're going to just roll that way and see how things go. I'll probably start the game with Buster playing (middle linebacker) and Freddy playing will (linebacker), but we'll see."

On if Brackett will be back for the playoffs:

"I hope so. That's the hope, yes, but we have to get in first."

On if Brackett has a broken bone:

"It's a crack. I guess you would have to say yes."

On if there was talk of putting Brackett on IR:

"No. Our hope is that he'll be back and ready to play, so we're just going to fight through it shorthanded until he gets back."

On Brackett's value to the defense:

"Your middle linebacker is kind of like your quarterback, so it's like playing with a new quarterback in there. Gary does a lot in terms of communication on the field. He's been the leader for us, a captain, so it'll be an adjustment playing without him, but we'll get through it."

On if Davis will be the backup MLB:

"No. Buster is the next middle linebacker (after Brackett). We can either leave everybody where they are and play Buster. Buster wasn't active last week, so Freddy played. We'll see how it goes. I think Buster's going to be able to handle things fine. We'll see how practice is. If he has any problems we can put Freddy in there, but right now our plan is to leave everybody where they are and just play the next man."

On Davis:

"He's a powerful guy, and he has done a good job on the look squad. We've played a few defenses like ours and he's gotten a chance to play in practice. He hasn't gotten much of a chance to play in the games, but he's done a good job. We were in this situation the last time we played Cincinnati, in '06 I guess it was, and all of our safeties were hurt and we had Matt Giordano and Dexter Reid. They made their first start and they played pretty well. We thought about shifting guys in and moving (CB) Kelvin Hayden and things like that. We ended up just playing the guys who had practiced there the most, and they did a good job. So, I think we can look at that and think that's the blueprint."

On who will have the defensive helmet radio:

"They'll both get it, Freddy and Buster, and we'll see how it goes. We'll see what happens and who's the most comfortable. Freddy did it last week after Gary went out. Some guys don't like the talk in their ear. We'll see how Buster does with it. We'll practice it with him and see what happens."

On DB-Bob Sanders:

"Bob went through the walk through and seemed do to fine. We'll see how he is at practice (Wednesday)."

On DT-Keyunta Dawson:

"Keyunta is probably going to be out two weeks. He has a hamstring pull. Watching it on tape, his foot actually gave way in the mud and it looked pretty bad. He feels good and he has great recuperative powers, but he'll definitely be out this week. Next week, we'll see what happens."

On C-Jeff Saturday:

"Jeff actually ran and worked out. My sense is we'll probably hold him out this week. He's going to want to play, he's going to lobby to play, but my sense is he'll probably be out."

On if Sanders is worth the money if he only plays half of the regular season:

"That's probably a question for (Owner and CEO) Jim Irsay. I don't know how much he's being paid and how much Jim values that. I think he can be a force. If we'd have paid him this much during the Super Bowl year (2006), we would have said it was a good investment for the games he played. So I think yes, but it's not my money."

On a free kick after a fair catch:

"You have to hold the ball. You cannot put it on a tee, but the defense has to be back 10 yards. It ends up being like a kickoff. You have to cover it. They can return it. I saw it done when I was about eight or nine years old was the only time. The Lions did it in about 1966 or '67. It used to be done more frequently when the goalpost was on the goal line. It was more feasible. You could get a short kick at midfield and make a 50-yard field goal instead of a 60-yarder. We had it all set up (at Cleveland last week), but I didn't communicate it well enough to (PR) Keiwan (Ratliff)."

On how the kicking team lines up:

"Just like a kickoff, except you have one guy holding the ball on the ground, not on the tee. You get a free kick and if it goes through, it's three points. If it goes out of the end zone it's a touchback. If it doesn't, they can run it back."

On who is on the field for a free kick:

"You'd have your kickoff team on there. There's no worry about protection. That's why you can make the long ones, because you don't have to worry about getting height, you can drive it. You can onside kick it. There are a lot of things you can do. It's a dumb rule. I don't know why we have it in. It's ridiculous, but we were going to use it."

On how a team would cover a free kick:

"You're probably not all that worried about it because you hope it's either going to go out of the end zone or go through the uprights, but if it was short they could return it. You probably would just line up and kick it."

On if the team practices a free kick situation:

"We do practice it. We practice it in training camp. We talk about it, and the situation comes up not very often. That's the first time it's come up in my 13 years as the head coach, but you work on it just in case so you're ready for it. We did everything right except fair catch the ball. You want to rush the punter, make him try to get it out quick. It would have been a long kick. In those conditions it would have been tough, but maybe makeable."

On if a team still gets the free kick if time expires before the fair catch:

"You still get to kick, yes. It's called an untimed down. It's a dumb rule. It's funny because we're on the sideline and the official was telling me, he said, ‘I've officiated,' I forget how many years he said, ‘I've never seen one of these, but I think we might get one.' We were setting it up and it just didn't work out."

On if he has ever had a free kick happen during his career:

"No. I have not had one in the whole time I've been coaching or playing. I started playing after they moved the goalposts back, and that's why they're much rarer now. But I can remember as a kid seeing them."


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