Opponent Opinions

Tony Dungy has the best winning percentage of any active coach in the NFL, but he has failed to take a team to the Super Bowl so far in his career. And after the Colts' 9-0 start this season, it now appears Dungy will fall short again in 2006. He talked to the South Florida media this week about this team's recent struggles and other topics.

Q: Why has your team struggled so much against the run, particularly lately?

Dungy: "We have just not been good and I'm sure we'll get tested. Looks like Ronnie Brown's back, running very well, Sammy Morris has run well, so I'm sure we'll get tested again this week. We just have to play better. Philadelphia was in here and we had a nice run day against them; they were kind of in the same boat and they've shown us the way by just doing what they do and playing better, and they've gotten hot, they've won their last four games. We've got to do the same thing. There's really no magic formula or different guys to put in or defenses to go to. We have been playing the same defense for five years, we've just got to play it a little bit better, a little bit sounder, play it with a llittle bit more energy and play faster."

Q: Is it a bigger concern because the playoffs are approaching?

Dungy: "I'm concerned with our whole team. If we play the way we can play, we're going to be in good shape and we're going to be a threat to go a long way. If we don't play the way we can play all the way around, then it's going to be tough. But that's what you have to do. When you get to the playoffs, you're playing against good teams, one play can make the difference, so you can't have a down area like your run defense, but you can't have off days and you can't be poor on special teams, you can't turn the ball over, those kind of things. We've got to just play better all the way around, and at times we have. Our game against Cincinnati was pretty crisp, but it hasn't been consistent the last month and if you're not consistent, you're going to struggle in the playoffs."

Q: How big would getting a bye be?

Dungy: "Obviously, it's huge. If you don't have to play a game, we all would like to have that. But the bigger thing for us is to be playing well. We've gone in as the 3 seed before and gone a long way, we've gone in as the 1 seed and lost the first game out. It's playing well and geting yourself to where you're doing the things you should do, and that's what we're going to be concerned about this week. Very tough test, very physical defense, it's going to really be a good precursor for us for the playoffs because these are the type of teams that you play."

Q: Are you surprised Joseph Addai has been able to contribute this much as a rookie?

Dungy: "Not surprised at all. We felt that, and we really thought Joseph was the best back in the draft for us, for what we did. Very well trainer in college, playing in an attack where he was asked to do a lot of things. We knew he was going to be a good receiver and a good blocker and a good pass protector, and his running skills were excellent. And what we saw was just what we thought we'd get."

Q: Can you compare his running style to that of Edgerrin James?

Dungy: "Different style. Joseph is more of a guy who's going to stretch and slash; Edgerrin just had a style that was very unique and Edgerrin knew our offense so well and was a very patient runner and a strong runner. He's a one-of-a-kind guy and it's hard to compare anybody to him. But Joseph, I think, fits us. He can get outside on the stretch play, he can run inside and he's a powerful guy."

Q: From what you've seen on tape, what do you think of Dolphins quarterback Cleo Lemon?

Dungy: "Just the last two games is what we've had a chance to study. He threw the ball well in very tough conditions, in Buffalo and in the rain the other night. Looks like he's got some poise back there, he stepped in and drove them to a score when they needed it the other night. Just the little bit that we've seen, he looks pretty good to me."

Q: What are your thoughts about Peyton Manning showing frustration after the Houston game on Sunday?

Dungy: "We all show a little frustration at times. The thing about it is poise is going to win you the games. And you need the poise when you're executing. So for me ... it's tough for me to get out of that personally. But other guys do, and other guys play with fire and emotion and energy and we have other guys that are the same way but they perform on the field. We talk about it as a group with the team, what we have to do to keep ourselves going and I think we've got great leadership on this team. Our veteran players, our Pro Bowlers are tremendous workers and tremendous examples for the young guys. We're all frustrated right now, but I think we're all pulling in the same direction."

Q: Were Manning's post-game comments a shot at the defense?

Dungy: "To be honest, I didn't read them, but I don't think that's the case. I think what he does is what all of us try to do, is answer honestly. I think we're all a little bit frustrated, but I don't think there's anybody on our team or in our organization that points fingers  at any individual or any units after a game because we all know we could have made plays to help us win those games."

Q: Can you talk about the Motorola commercial you're starring in came about?

Dungy: "You know what? That was something that I had never done. I never thought that I would do it. It ended up being a lot of fun. We did it over the bye week. Motorola has been very helpful to us, not only with our headsets and all  the communication stuff that we use as a team, but just been fantastic to us. So I kind of made an exception and did it, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. I got in a different element where I wasn't in control, I wasn't calling the shots and you see how other people run their operations and all the things that go into making a 25-second commercial. So it was really a good learning experience."

Q: How much fun do you have doing that?

Dungy: "Had a ton of fun. Much more than I thought I would, yeah."

Q: Have you thought about whether you're coming back next season or is that something you always evaluate in the offseason?

Dungy: "I think you evaluate that at the end of the year, that's always been my policy. We'll look at everything and go from there and make some good decisions, hopefully."

Q: How important is it for the Colts to make the right personnel decisions this offseason, with Dwight Freeney and Cato June scheduled to become unrestricted free agents?

Dungy: "Well, it is every year in the salary-cap era and that's one of the things you have to do is evaluate your players well and evalulate what you need and build on it. Those decisions, really, that's where your general manager and your owner come in. They have a great handle on things. For an example, they made a decision to not franchise Edgerrin James again, but that was based on Bill (Polian) knowing that, hey, we've got a great chance to get a good running back in the draft. We can get Joseph Addai or Maurice Drew and soften the blow a little bit. Those are things that the head coaches we're tunnel vision in on the season. We don't look at them, we don't know. But that's one thing, our organization has always made good decisions. I think that's going to be our plan to keep ourselves up there for a long, long time."

Q: Is your 3-3 record in AFC South games a sign the division might be catching up to you?

Dungy: "Yeah, I mean, we won our games at home and lost them on the road. That's the first time we haven't been at least 4-2 in the division since it started. I think it's just a measure of how tough it is. Vince Young has done a great job of revitalizing Tennessee. Jacksonville, we know, is a playoff-caliber team, and Houston beat Jackonsnville twice and beat us once. So it is going to be very, very tough from here on out, I'm sure."

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