Dungy: Not Going to Make Wholesale Changes

Following a heartbreaking, 23-17 overtime playoff loss to the San Diego Chargers Saturday, Colts head coach Tony Dungy faced the media back in Indianapolis on Sunday. As always at the end of the season, questions about Dungy's future were a big part of the conversation. See what Dungy had to say about the game and his future inside.

"Like a lot of playoff games—like most playoff games in fact—this one came down to fundamental football and making plays under pressure in the fourth quarter and doing what it takes to win close games, and we didn't do it and they did. We had some field position problems which they caused. They punted very, very well, I thought, punted us back in the hole several times and that was tough to overcome. We had seven penalties in the fourth quarter and overtime, which you just can't have in close games. And that was the difference. So that part was disappointing, that we didn't play with a little bit of poise down the stretch. We didn't do the things that needed to be done to close out the game. With that being said, I thought our team had a fine year, a great regular season capped off by one disappointing playoff game. So what we've got to do is continue to work. It's not popular when people ask you, ‘What do you need to do?' and you say, ‘We've just got to continue to improve, to make the guys on our team better, to bring in more talent the way we always have through the draft and selected free agents if we can.' But when you don't meet expectations in this business a lot of people have the idea that you need to blow things up and start over, and that's never been our style and I don't think it will be. I think we'll continue to work to get our team to improve and hopefully get back in that situation next year and play a little bit better."

On if he feels the running game has to be better next year:

"We have to improve it and that's what you will do, you'll look at what you did well, what you didn't do well. After our Super Bowl year we said our run defense wasn't where it needed to be, and ‘How are you going to improve it?' You look at the schemes, you look at the people, what you're doing and try to find ways to improve that. We've run the ball very well here for a number of years, didn't run it that well this year, didn't run it well enough. We'll try to look at the whole season, see what the causes are, see how we can improve it, but that is an area we are going to have to get better. I think the elements to get better are right here with us. We've got two really good backs and we've got some young offensive linemen, we've got a scheme that has produced very good running before, so we'll fine tune it and get it better."

On if he has made a decision on coaching:

"I have not. I didn't expect to be having this press conference today, didn't expect to be thinking about it today, but we'll start that process probably right after we get done with this press conference and figure out what we're going to do, and as soon as we know we'll let you know."

On some of the factors that come into play in his decision, like family:

"It's always the same thing, and you're always disappointed on this day, whenever you lose, whether it's wild card, championship game, Super Bowl. There's a disappointment that you have to let go of. The year that we won it, there was kind of an emotional high that you had to come down off of, but we'll just pray about it and see what options we have and kind of where the Lord's leading. There are family issues and other things that you'd like to do, but the bottom line is we have a fun team to coach. We have some great players, we have a team that I know can win, and I still enjoy it. So we'll try to balance those two and see what happens."

On some of the players saying they hope he comes back and if that plays into his decision at all:

"I'm happy that they would say that especially at this time of year after you lose a game. I know how those guys feel about me and I know how I feel about them, and that's one of the reasons why I'm still here, because five years ago, I probably had the same feeling but we have such a great group it is hard to leave those guys and would be hard. That's good to know, but I don't think it's necessary."

On how it was balancing time between him being here and his family in Tampa:

"It was good. This year went well and I had fun doing it. I had fun watching my son play. They spent a lot of time up here on the weekends. It was actually probably time-wise better than the first two years I was here. So that part of it I know is doable, and that really wasn't a problem."

On when he will leave town and expects to make a decision:

"I'm going to spend the next few days with my wife and then once we decide what we're going to do I'll let (Owner and CEO) Jim (Irsay) and (Team President) Bill (Polian) know."

On if he will leave town today or tomorrow:

"Yes, sometime. We're trying to figure it out now. Obviously we didn't plan on going today. It really will be family time. We'll spend it together and try to decide what we're going to do and go from there."

On if burnout is a factor:

"Not a factor at all. As I said, I enjoy it, had fun this year, had a great deal of fun. I enjoy watching our young guys improve and I enjoy everything that goes with being the head coach. You couldn't have a better situation than I have here, better ownership, and I know we're going to get players and Bill (Polian) is going to do everything we can to win. So it's not that at all. You're coaching the MVP of the league and a team that you know is going to be good, so we'll see."

On what appeals to him after football that he would like to get a start on, All Pro Dad, prison ministry?

"There are some other things, yes, that I would like to do. If anything, if there was any one thing, it's just probably doing something more hands on with young men. We have such a crisis right now. I get to talk to young guys occasionally and I just think there's some more things I could do hands on to help. But the other side of the coin is you have a great platform as the head coach of an NFL team. So you have to balance that out."

On the team's record near 29-2 in the regular season with no turnovers the last few seasons, but 1-4 in the playoffs, and why that is:

"Well, in the postseason you're playing better teams. What the postseason usually comes down to is making some plays in the fourth quarter. We have a chance to put them away, we have to make one first down and we win the game, and we don't make it. We have some penalties that are hard to explain. We're not playing our technique, not doing things the way we should do them, and you just can't have those things happen in close, tight games. Most playoff games are going to be tight. We've won some tight ones, but you win by being fundamentally sound. I told the team the night before the game—and we always talk about it—that it's not that extra energy or lift in your game in the playoffs, it's doing what you are capable of doing in the bright lights and under pressure in the fourth quarter of a playoff game. We didn't do it, and that was the disappointing thing and we'll continue to work on that."

On if he liked his chances of getting two turnovers in the end zone and not committing any on offense:

"I thought we would win the game if we didn't turn the ball over. I thought their hope would be to take it away, but they kept the game close, kept us out of the end zone, and when we had a chance to put it away we couldn't quite get that one score. We had the ball a couple of times when we were up that we could make it a two-score game and we couldn't do it. Then in the overtime, I know a lot of people will ask about that, it was a perfect scenario to me. We kicked off to them, we had the wind, we have them 3rd-and-11, we should stop them right there and then have them punt to us and get the ball back. And we blew our opportunity."

On if the team took the loss harder than any of the previous playoff losses:

"No, you take every one hard. The AFC Championship Game was a hard loss, the loss last year because we turned the ball over and didn't make it on fourth down in their end deep. They're all though. They're all the same. That day and the next day you feel bad no matter when it is."

On upcoming free agents like Jeff Saturday and Kelvin Hayden and if the idea is to bring them back if you can:

"That's something that we'll discuss, and Bill (Polian) and I will get that discussed in the next month. We'll get our evaluations from our coaches on our players first. That's always the number one thing we do, and find out where our coaches think guys are. Bill has to work everything out in terms of payroll and the salary cap, and that's tough when you have a team that has as many good players as we do. But he does a great job of balancing that, and our plan is to get as many guys back as we can. We like our team where it is. We like our veteran leadership. So we'll see what happens. But that will be stuff that we have to discuss as an organization in the next month."

On if this season was more rewarding because of how it started out:

"It was different in the way we had to do it and basically playing must-win games for two months and seeing our guys function in that situation, it was great. And the disappointing thing is you work that hard, you put yourself in position and then you don't come through when you have that opportunity in the playoffs. That's what's disappointing. But it was good to see. We had a lot of young guys contribute, a lot of guys step up and make plays that helped us win games and it wasn't just our normal star players, but a lot of guys. And that is great to see. As a coach, that is rewarding."

On besides the running game if there is an area where he feels they have to get better at:

"We have to get more consistent on defense. We played the run well at times, but we started off the year not playing the run as well as we needed to, and I think we have to be more consistent there. Our special teams played much better this year. Up and down, we lost that field position battle last night, more probably due to their punter than anything else. Those are always areas that you just work on, and consistency and doing the little things well, taking care of the ball and taking it away from the other team, things we'll always stress."

On WR-Marvin Harrison's salary cap number next season and how hard it would be to part ways:

"That's something that we'll discuss in the next two months, and Bill (Polian) usually figures out a way to get things done. We've had to do that, and it is tough. It's one of the bad things about this system and the tough things about this job. But we'll see what happens and what the next month brings."

On 3rd down, offensively and defensively:

"I'm not a big worrier about third-down defense. Our third-down offense has always been near the top of the league. We were over 50 percent this year. They outplayed us on third down last night, which was another key to the game. They converted some 3rd-and-longs that we normally feel like we're going to get those stops. Those are the ones you have to stop. When it's 3rd-and-11 in overtime, you can't let them convert."

On his message to the team:

"Just talked about the way we feel today. It's funny but no matter when you lose in the playoffs you always feel terrible, and you feel worse than teams that were 4-12 and won their last game. That's good and that's one of the reasons why you're in the playoffs, is you have a lot of guys that feel that way. So we have to use that feeling to build on next year and to use that for incentive in the offseason, to come back to work and get ourselves a little bit better. I told them just what I told you, that we're not going to make wholesale changes. We don't think there's things that need to be fixed about the team. We just need to continue to improve. Most of our improvement will be made by the guys that are on the team now. Them getting better is how we're going to improve. We'll try to add people through the draft, predominantly, and hopefully those guys can give us a spark. But most of the improvement will be the guys that are here. So that's what we have to focus in on, and they'll get a couple of months off and come back in March to start doing that."

On if he doesn't come back, the biggest thing he will take away from the game:

"My biggest enjoyment, and it's funny, there was a piece in the Sporting News just a couple of days ago;, it asked Joe Greene to write a piece about the Steel Curtain, and two of the guys have passed away, and Joe talked about the things that they did together, and not so much about games or Super Bowls, but the four of them doing things together. And that's what I've enjoyed about football from 1977 when I played, it's the camaraderie and the locker room atmosphere. I don't know if there's a business out there where you have the personal relationships and you're around guys so much and you end up spending time with families. Still, some of my best friends are guys that I played with 30 years ago. We have coaches on the staff that have been with me 13 years and you're so close, that's what you're going to miss. And that's why it's hard to walk away, because of those relationships."

On if losing those relationships is scary if he were to leave:

"I don't think you can ever duplicate that feeling and that closeness. And even from playing to coaching has been different because you're in the locker room but you're not in that part of the locker room like the players are. So every stage of your life is different, but that's life and that goes with it and that will be part of the decision-making process."

On the rumor mill about what he will do for the next week:

"And I hate to put everybody through that and have that watch and what's happening. I guess I would just tell everybody, ‘Don't read anything into it until you hear.'"

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