Patriots - Colts: Inside Look
By NFL Scout
Simon Has Been There:
Simon will be facing the Patriots for the first time since he joined Indianapolis as a free agent in early September. The Colts defensive tackle, however, started for the Philadelphia Eagles in last year's Super Bowl, which was won by the Patriots 24-21.
"When you go back and look at (the game) film, we had every chance to win that game. We just came up a little short," Simon recalled Thursday.
"I think if we had went out in the first half and took advantage of the opportunities that we had to put some points on the board and got some turnovers, the outcome would have been different. But that's neither here nor there. They won and that's long and gone."
As for Monday night's nationally televised game with New England, Simon is very aware of the recent history between the two teams.
"This rivalry is just like any other rivalry. I walked into the same situation when I went to Philadelphia. They'd lost seven or eight straight times to the (New York) Giants. That's the cycle of this league. You're going to have some those teams that have your number for a little while and then it can be turned around. Just like the Eagles owned the Giants for a long period of time, this can be reversed just as well," he said.
"You can't do anything to change the last six, seven, how many times this team has come up short. You can't do anything to go out and change that. You can't change the outcome of those games. We can only worry about this game and how we perform in this game."
Monday night's game against the Patriots, despite the opinion of many Colts fans, didn't determine the team's fortunes, Colts coach Tony Dungy said.
"What happens for us as the season progresses doesn't really matter on what did against New England. ... We're still going to come back and work on those same things," Dungy said.
"We've got a lot of tough games on the second half of our schedule. We can't afford to make one game any more important than any other. We've got Houston coming up (this week). That's an AFC South game. We need to take care of business in that game. We've got Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Seattle on down the road. We can't afford one game to affect any more than any other game."
The Colts coach knows that nothing will come easily the rest of the year.
"We always have tough games with (Houston)," Dungy said. "We got off to a pretty good start against them down there earlier in the year, and then they fought right back and tied the game up. We played well in the second half of that game in order to pull it out, but they gave us everything we wanted."
In that game, the Indianapolis defense sacked Houston QB David Carr five times in nine pass attempts while the Colts offense controlled the ball for much of the final two quarters.
"We have to approach every game we play as if it's not a playoff game, not a do-or-die game," Dungy said. "We will prepare for this game (with Houston) exactly the same way as we approach any other game on our schedule."
Seymour's Presence A Big Factor:
Heading into the 2005 season, the Patriots defensive line was supposed to be one of the deepest, most youthfully talented groups on the roster for the back-to-back defending Super Bowl champs. Boasting a starting lineup of three former first-round draft picks -- Richard Seymour (sixth overall, 2001), Ty Warren (13th overall, 2003) and Vince Wilfork (21st overall, 2004) -- it wasn't about who would start in New England's 3-4 front, but rather how dominant the players could be. Add backup depth like Jarvis Green, 2004 second-round pick Marquise Hill, versatile Dan Klecko and surprising, athletic, undrafted rookie free agent Mike Wright, and the sky appeared to be the limit for the group.
But midway through the season, injuries and inconsistent play have limited the group's success and played a big role in the Patriots' defensive struggles. Seymour has missed more than a month with a knee injury suffered playing goal-line fullback against the Chargers in Week 4, while Hill (ankle), Warren (hip) and Green (shoulder) have all been slowed and missed practice time due to injury.
And Wilfork, the only healthy starter, has acknowledged in recent weeks that he hasn't played up to his own expectations. After starting six of 16 games as a rookie a year ago while rotating in with veteran Keith Traylor, the former University of Miami star has taken over as the full-time starter in his second season. Traylor was cut in the offseason, and with no other true nose tackle on the roster, Wilfork has been asked to carry the full share of the load with mixed results in the middle of the Patriots' 3-4 front.
All that has added up to a so-so first half for a group that was expected to be one of the best in football and, considering the multitude of changes New England underwent elsewhere on defense, was expected to be the strength of the unit.
More than anyone, the players know it just hasn't been good enough.
"It's been kind of inconsistent at times," Seymour said, summarizing the line's play over the first two months. "I think we definitely have a lot of talent and a lot of ability, and it's just a matter of not getting complacent of where we are and the things that we can do. Knowing that if we can dominate, just don't do it on one play, develop that mentality that we do it all the time. That's something that the more that you can tap into that, that's something that great players tend to do."
Warren also acknowledges that not having Seymour, a three-time Pro Bowler in his first four seasons in the league, has been a big part of the front's inconsistent play.
"It takes a toll on you, it does," Warren said of the injuries. "I'd be fibbing to tell you that it doesn't take a toll on you. But I say it all the time, you have to play with what you have."
Having Seymour makes life easier on everyone else.
"It's different," Warren said of Seymour being on the field. "I mean, you have somebody that's stout in what he does and he's a smart player. It's easy when you have him on the other end. Not to take anything away from Jarvis, but Jarvis and Richard are two different types of players. Jarvis does his job, but you hear Coach Belichick say it all the time that Seymour is a special player because he does some things that big men can't do. So he poses problems for the other team. You definitely know when he's out there. You feel his presence."
It's a presence the defense will need on a consistent basis over the second half of the season if the overall unit is going to improve. While the linebackers and secondary have taken most of the heat in New England for struggling to stop the run and giving up big plays on almost a weekly basis, the linemen know they can do quite a bit more to help out in both areas.
"Personally I try to put a lot on my shoulders or as a defensive front," Seymour said. "We feel if we don't stop the run, then it's on the defensive front. If we don't get pressure on the quarterback, it's on the defensive front. We understand that. So I definitely think we hold that on our shoulders and know that we can definitely play better. That's just our mentality. A lot of it comes down to our attitude and going out and doing it week in and week out."