Intro: Indianapolis won the AFC South title Sunday in a manner less-preferred than anyone wished. The Colts fell behind by 21 points early in the second half at Cincinnati and rallied to make it a one-score affair before eventually losing, 42-28. The Colts have three games left to hone their playoff approach.
INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts’ 42-28 loss at Cincinnati was not made any more palatable when three hours later Tennessee lost at Denver to hand Indianapolis its eighth AFC South crown.
The Colts fell behind by 14 points at halftime, a margin that grew to 21 points before the offense roared to life.
Still, four touchdowns in the final 30 minutes could not rescue the day as Cincinnati grew its lead back to 21 before winning.
The Colts are in the playoffs. Time remains to sharpen aspects of the approach in all three phases, and here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.
PLAYOFFS GUARANTEED – The Colts are one of three teams (Denver, Seattle) to nail down a playoff berth, the only one to claim a division crown at this point. That cannot be taken away, and it was the first goal the team had entering 2013. “A division championship is a division championship any way you get it,” said Jim Irsay. Said Robert Mathis, “I’m not going to sneeze at a division title. We just have to work from here.” Sure the team is not functioning at the level it seeks, but a ticket has been punched to play beyond 16 games. That is an accomplishment. Every other goal the team has still is in play.
EXECUTION IS ELIXIR – A scoreless first half with no third-down conversions in six attempts had the Colts in a halftime hole. With five-of-40 third-down conversions in six games, it’s hard not to mention. The Colts have had a first-half lead in only one of the last six games and have been out-scored, 114-24. The combined deficit is 49-9 in the first quarter. During the span, Indianapolis has 15 two- or three-and-outs on 37 possessions, with 16 total possessions not producing a first down. Opponents have four three-and-outs in 34 possessions, with only five drives not yielding a first down. The first-half time of possession disparity in the six games is 101:16 for opponents and 78:44 for the Colts.
HOPEFUL SPARK IS FOUND – Eight Colts receivers had first-half receptions at Cincinnati, but T.Y. Hilton was not among them. Hilton was targeted five times in 46 Andrew Luck passes, and he did not catch a pass until 12 minutes remained in the game. Da’Rick Rogers (six receptions, 107 yards) and LaVon Brazill (three-for-53) saw significant time, and each had two touchdown receptions. Granted the tilted scoreboard created a higher number of passes than planned, still a team looking for a spark among receivers may have found one at Cincinnati. Rogers is young and learning. Brazill needs to make a push as his second year nears completion. Yesterday’s production was a needed boost that needs to remain. Each showed a physical nature that produced yards after the catch.
SERGIO BROWN IS SPECIAL – Sergio Brown has been among many bright spots for the Colts this year. Every unit likes a go-to performer, and Brown has been that on coverage units. With seven tackles, Brown is among club leaders. He also has two fumble recoveries and a blocked field goal. Twice against Denver, he downed punts deep in Broncos territory. At Cincinnati, he downed a punt at the one and batted another back into play that was downed at the Bengals’ four. Brown is a heads-up guy, a play waiting to happen.
STINGIER ON GROUND – Seven times this year the Colts have allowed 140-plus yards in a game. Seven of the last nine opponents have rushed at least 30 times, each time topping 30 minutes possession time and but once not reaching a 4.0 average. Cincinnati ran 35 times Sunday, netting 155 yards and a 4.4 average. Where some games have had skewed rushing totals with quarterback scampers (Ryan Fitzpatrick had 54 of Tennessee’s 162 yards and eight of its 36 attempts a week ago), yesterday was not one of them. Five times in the last eight games an opponent had at least 33:55 possession time. Opponents’ rushing production is a factor in the time of possession, and it creates added pressure on the other team to maximize its opportunities.
Tags: Andrew Luck, da'rick rogers, indianapolis colts, Jim Irsay, LaVon Brazill, robert mathis, Sergio Brown, T.Y. Hilton
Posted in Colts Blog
Andrew Luck was a guest of Reggie Wayne’s earlier this week on the “Query and Schultz Show” in Indianapolis.
While Wayne joined the show for the first time since his injury, Luck was making his debut.
Here are some of Luck’s highlights from the show:
On having Reggie Wayne back for the Houston game and now in the building:
“I don’t think he could survive sitting at home, watching the guys play without him. His drive and his motivation, even being hurt, he’s still such a locker room presence, still such a voice for the team. I think we wanted him back. Obviously, Mr. Irsay made it happen with whatever strings he pulled. I was very happy to see Reggie walk into the team meeting the night before the game and give us some words and it means a lot when he’s here. It really does.”
On Wayne’s presence now around the complex:
“You can tell he’s taken on more of a coaching role in a sense and breaking it down for T.Y. Hilton, LaVon Brazill or the other guys, or helping (Coby) Fleener out with releases. He’s still incredibly actively involved because again he’s still apart of the Colts fabric. I can’t imagine the Colts without Reggie Wayne. You just don’t imagine it, so I’m thankful he’s around.”
On how the Colts offense is adjusting to life without Wayne:
“It’s definitely a transition. I think what I always admired about Reggie was third down he made a play. When you needed to make a play in the fourth quarter he was open, you needed a two-minute drive, Reggie was getting open. So to lose that safety net, if you will, is different. But I’ve been really impressed with how the other receivers, tight ends, have approached it as a challenge as the guy that gets open on a big third down.”
On Trent Richardson:
“I think he’s done great and I think it’s unfair the flak that he’s been catching from folks. They don’t understand what he’s doing protection wise, what he’s doing coming out of the backfield and how tough it is to switch teams midseason. He’s in Cleveland on a Wednesday then he’s in Indianapolis on a Thursday preparing for third down against another team. Never seen a playbook before, new teammates, new everything. I think the way he’s been able to adjust has been great. He’s a smart, smart football player. He’s a great football player. I think it will be a short amount of time before people get their heads around that.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, chuck pagano, Coby Fleener, david reed, Jim Irsay, LaVon Brazill, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton
Posted in Colts Blog, Colts Casey B
Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk were chosen this week for induction into the Colts Ring of Honor in December.
The additions of Dickerson and Faulk are noteworthy and appropriate because of the greatness they brought to Indianapolis.
Dickerson came to the Colts on a Halloween Night trade involving the L.A. Rams and Buffalo with Buffalo getting Cornelius Bennett and the Rams getting six draft picks and two running backs.
He got to Indianapolis just in time that Saturday morning to get a physical and hop the team flight to New York, where we played the Jets on Sunday.
The press conference at the team hotel had about 200 reporters, and the visibility and marketing dynamic for the team was changed dramatically with Eric being on board. In fact, he was Sports Illustrated’s cover six days later.
Coming out of a player strike, we took flight with Eric’s addition, making the playoffs and nearly engineering an upset playoff win.
The next season (1988) brought our first Monday Night Game, appropriately on Halloween Night. To many long-time Colts fans that game remains one of the most memorable ever.
Eric was much more treat than trick with 159 rushing yards and four TDs in 19 minutes. He could have run all night.
Eric went on to the rushing title that year and had a solid 1989 season before things started slowing down.
Still, he was the first truly big-time NFL superstar to arrive in Indianapolis.
Marshall came in a much more natural way – through the draft, and he had a much different style than Eric.
Where Eric was a pure upright runner, Marshall was a darter and dancer who had power and a quick gear. Both he and Eric got to full speed tremendously well, and Marshall was able to have four 1,000-yard seasons with the club.
While Eric was a very good receiver, Marshall was outstanding, nearly producing a 1,000-yard season rushing and receiving in 1998.
Marshall later went on to star in St. Louis as the Colts took a different direction.
The direction now is to put both players in the Ring of Honor in December. Jim Irsay has made so many right decisions, and this is just another one.
The symmetry of Marshall (number 28) and Eric (number 29) is perfect. Both did a great deal to forward the franchise, and both helped the team win.
Colts fans are smart and have large hearts. I personally cannot wait for the applause these two players will hear on December 15.
In full disclosure, I was the PR Director here for both of them. They were fun to handle. Marshall was a bit of a challenge. He had me more on the defensive than I liked, but we laugh about that now.
We both share the same hometown – New Orleans – and both were public school products, though my school and his were in different parts of the town in more ways than one. I personally think he should have been the rightful winner of the Heisman Trophy that went to Gino Toretta. (They were paired here in Indianapolis for a short time.)
(I also think Peyton Manning should have won, too, but that is the New Orleans in me speaking out. Two natives of that city should have won that trophy within four years of each other. Just my opinion.)
Eric was fun to work with. There were times he would not do everything asked of him, but he was consistent and fair. I understood why he did not do some things, but he surprised me quite well with others.
My first meeting with him and one of my later ones stick out the most.
In preparing for that press conference in New York, he, Ron Meyer and I met in Ron’s hotel room to strategize for the questioning.
When we were done, we still had about 15 minutes. Ron grabbed the pillow off his bed, handed it to Eric and told him I was his fullback as we ran through some plays. I can honestly say I was his first fullback with the Colts.
After the 1999 season, Eric was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I was sitting with him alone in a holding room in a Miami hotel when Dave Motts of the hall burst in to convey the news that Eric had made it. Eric smiled as only he could do.
Congrats to both Eric and Marshall. They are worthy recipients for the Colts’ Ring of Honor. They like going in together because of their friendship – and Colts fans are the winners.
Tags: Eric Dickerson, indianapolis colts, Jim Irsay, Marshall Faulk, Pro Football Hall of Fame
Posted in Colts Blog
Intro: Indianapolis posted a dominant 27-7 win at San Francisco on Sunday. The Colts ran 12 more times than they threw and earned their most lop-sided road victory since 2009. Facing a physical defending Super Bowl team, the Colts were more physical.
INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts answered a tough home setback by meeting the challenge of their first road game with a 20-point victory margin over a team (San Francisco) that made the Super Bowl last year and nearly did the previous season.
The Colts met a physical opponent by being even more so. On a national television stage, Indianapolis showed a much different blueprint for victory than past seasons have had.
Colts 27, San Francisco 7.
Here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.
LET’S GET PHYSICAL – Nothing is more telling than the words of an owner. In this case, Jim Irsay, “To bring in Ahmad Bradshaw and now to have Trent Richardson…You can see Trent with his lateral movement, his explosion, he’s always going forward. What we’re looking for is what we saw today.” When Irsay changed his organizational dynamic in early 2012 by bringing in Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano, the new duo spoke of a different style of play. Every move since then has reflected that approach and progress made over 18 games prior to yesterday was incremental. Yesterday, it was dramatic. The Colts ran 12 more times than they threw, a first for that disparity since 2011. The Colts are 4-0 in the last 19 games when they have rushed more often than thrown, and they are 4-0 in games in that span when out-rushing opponents by 59 yards. “Run and stop the run” has been a mantra. It was reality yesterday. It is a much different feeling for long-time Colts fans. This new pair of shoes could be broken in quickly.
1-2 PUNCH, AND MORE – Ahmad Bradshaw carried 19 times for 95 yards. Trent Richardson had 13 carries for 35 yards. Bradshaw said the plan never was to ease his new buddy in, “We’ve got a one-two punch and we used it. It’s going to be tough for a lot of opponents this year.” The duo had 32 of the team’s 39 rushes. Get used to it. Pep Hamilton mentioned Friday that Donald Brown would be in the mix. Brown had 25 yards on three carries, including a 16-yarder for a first down that led to a field goal. Indianapolis has a more pronounced “hammer” look to the offense. Pagano spoke 20 months ago of the Colts having an AFC North look (like that of Pittsburgh and Baltimore). That was the look at San Francisco.
MULTI-POSITIONAL OFFENSIVE LINEMEN – The offensive line had one of its grittiest and most productive performances of recent memory. Mike McGlynn shifted to center for the injured Samson Satele (the third time he has done this in 19 games), and played well. He competed successfully while being battered all game. Jeff Linkenbach showed his versatility again by starting at right guard for McGlynn. In 29 career starts, Linkenbach has opened five times at LT, four at LG, four at RG and 16 at RT. Mixed in among stalwart veterans Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus was rookie left guard Hugh Thornton. Versatility among all linemen provides big-time currency for the offense. Often is it not acknowledged, but Sunday it was on full display. They ventured into Candlestick and shined. Well done, gents.
VALUE OF KICKERS, COVERAGE, FIELD POSITION – San Francisco started nine of its 11 possessions at or inside its 20. Pat McAfee reached the end zone on four of his six kickoffs, producing three touchbacks. The other three returns reached the 13, 11 and 12. McAfee pinned the 49ers to their eight (twice) and nine with three of his four punts. Adam Vinatieri hit clutch efforts from 43 and 41 yards, and his lone miss from 51 yards was wide while attempted into the wind. The Colts won the average field position drive start by eight yards, and three-of-five three-and-outs defensively for Indianapolis came after solid kicks. Again, a part of the game sometimes overlooked. Not today. It was probably great flights home for special teams and offensive line coaches.
BELIEVE IN COACHES – Defensive players heard it for two weeks after Terrelle Pryor ran for 112 yards. With Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson looming in the next month, getting squared away on a diverse offense was necessary. Chuck Pagano said research was done and that players would be prepared. Kaepernick rushed seven times for 20 yards, and the only TD run by a quarterback belonged to Andrew Luck. The phrase heard after Sunday’s win was “assignment football.” Assignments were sound and execution was solid. The Colts are 13-6 under the new regime, with players buying in and competing for each other. They’re coachable, and everyone enjoyed the fruits of a decisive win.
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, ahmad bradshaw, anthony castonzo, chuck pagano, donald brown, gosder cherilus, Hugh Thornton, indianapolis colts, Jeff Linkenbach, Jim Irsay, mike mcglynn, pat mcafee, Pep Hamilton, ryan grigson, trent richardson
Posted in Colts Blog
The Colts are back from their first road trip of the season and it comes in a 27-7 win. Today’s news looks at the type of win the Colts earned on Sunday and what Owner Jim Irsay thinks about Trent Richardson.
Take a look below at the top pieces from Monday, September 23rd.
By: Bob Kravitz, Indy Star
September 22, 2013
Kravitz takes a look at the big picture after the Colts 27-7 victory over the defending NFC Champions.
He was especially impressed with the Colts late fourth quarter touchdown drive that ended with Andrew Luck’s six-yard touchdown run.
This was after the ultimate grown-up touchdown drive, the Colts going 80 angry, hard-edged yards in 11 plays, consuming 7:01 off the clock and ultimately beating the San Francisco 49ers 27-7 in a performance so overwhelming and surprising, it sidesteps traditional description.
Little wonder general manager Ryan Grigson had a hard time remaining moored to his chair in the Candlestick Park press box. This was the monster he wanted to build. This was the prototype. This was the team Chuck Pagano pined for, a team that could run the ball and stop the run and win the kinds of ugly games that used to give the old Colts fits.
“It is one of those games that you look back and say, maybe five, six years down the road, you say that was a signature win,” Pagano said. “Maybe one of those wins that propel you to do great things.”
By: Mike Chappell, Indy Star
Colts Owner Jim Irsay spoke publicly after Sunday’s win for the first time since his team acquired new running back Trent Richardson.
“To bring in Ahmad Bradshaw and now to have Trent Richardson,” owner Jim Irsay said, his voice trailing off. “You can see Trent with his lateral movement, his explosion, his always going forward.”
Irsay didn’t bother disguising his excitement with Grigson’s decisions to sign Bradshaw as a veteran free agent in June and send next year’s first-round pick to Cleveland last week for Richardson.
“What we’re looking for is what we saw today,” Irsay said after emerging from a raucous locker room.
By: Mike Wells, ESPN.com
It’s the ground and pound attitude that have not often been linked to Colts victories.
“If you want to go finesse, open it up with five wide [receivers], we can do that,” Colts linebacker Robert Mathis said. “You want to go smash-mouth football, we can do that. We have two backs that can get it done and an O-line that can open up gaping holes.”
The Colts’ victory sends a message to Manning and the Denver Broncos, who appear to be the odds-on favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
“All the good things we did today, we can keep building on so we can keep having performances like this,” defensive lineman Cory Redding said.
Tags: ahmad bradshaw, Andrew Luck, chuck pagano, Jim Irsay, trent richardson
Posted in Colts Blog, COLTS DAILY HEADLINES
Below are a few of the highlights from the interview:
On the performance against the Bills:
-“We’ve got to get better. It was glaring. Everyone is accountable in our entire building and Jim (Irsay) expects excellence and so do we. That’s why we have all those banners in our facility because whether it’s the preseason game or not, our third’s against their two’s, or the two’s against their one’s, that’s how we all look at it, that we just have to improve. That’s what the preseason is about. It was kind of nice in a sense. It’s good for us because it shows what we need to work on, what we need to work on in practice this week, the things we need to do to get better. It’s what the preseason is for and I think it ends up being a blessing in disguise.”
On how patient he is with the second and third string players:
-“Well everyone is in a different situation, a case-by-case basis. You have to look at a broad scope, how long are the contracts, how much money are you giving them up front. There’s a lot of things that come into play but at the end of the day if the guy is not getting it done, you have to have some tough discussions and make moves because this is a bottom-line business in this league, and everybody will tell you that. It’s hard sometimes but we are always trying to move forward and not be on our heels. You’ve got to keep making forward progress. If you have guys that you evaluated and you really thought they were going to do this and that and they’re not, at some point the light has to come on or else they will be on the outside looking in. Again, it was our first game and we just expect to make big strides each week.”
On Josh Chapman and that position’s importance:
-“It’s a very key, critical piece in the 3-4 (defense). That’s why we drafted him. We felt really good about one, a guy that works as hard as he does and two, a guy that we knew would rehab and do everything that he had to do. Another thing is the guy ended up having a successful year without an ACL, so everything pretty much pointed to him being a pretty good player. I think he’s in a perfect situation behind a true vet that’s a wily, old, crafty veteran in Aubrayo Franklin, that knows the system and has given pointers and tips to him, and to even other players on our defense, including the linebackers and those are tricks of the trade of this defense. It’s nice to have Josh in a position now where we don’t have to thrust him in there, throw him to the wolves. He’s still getting a lot of snaps at the right pace.”
On Griff Whalen:
-“Right now, he’s dinged up a little bit. Griff is one of those guys where you know exactly what he is. You know his skill set. You know that he rarely drops the ball. I don’t know if I can even recollect him dropping a ball in practice. He doesn’t say boo. He just does what he’s supposed to do and he’s a really good pass-catching receiver.”
On his impressions of Daniel Adongo:
-“Well, he had a little bit of a problem with his arm that is getting well so he hasn’t been able to take a lot of reps. We flew him here from Johannesburg one-way, that was before the connection. The guy just has the body type. He’s such a fascinating person to talk to, his background and such. He played (rugby). I know it’s not football but it’s a distant relative and you can see the fierceness, the competitiveness and the toughness that he plays with, and the athletic ability and speed. Hopefully he has the character and the mental capacity to make the transition. He’s showing that each time he gets another rep.”
-“Just to give you an example, I’ve been to a gazillion workouts in my life, and when you have a guy fly that long, that insists on coming into the building and learning about American football the day before he actually works outs, instead of sacking out in the hotel, and he walks up to the line and he broad jumps 11 feet, when he’s never done it before, that get’s people excited. People start grinning and you look over your shoulder after (Adongo) runs the hoop and Chuck (Pagano) kind of gets a grin on his face. Like I said to other people, he’s a lump of Clay and we know he’s a long shot. But the kid has such a good sense of intelligence and integrity and he has all those Colts traits at a really high level that I hope can be the x-factor in transitioning to this sport.”
Tags: chuck pagano, Daniel Adongo, Griff Whalen, Jim Irsay, josh chapman, ryan grigson
Posted in Colts Blog
The Colts are back in Anderson on Tuesday after having Monday off. Training camp will wrap-up on Friday but before that here’s a look at some national news that came the Colts way on Monday.
Each morning Colts.com will take a look at the top headlines surrounding the Indianapolis Colts from around the globe. What is the local and national media saying about the Colts?
Take a look below at the top pieces from Tuesday, August 13th.
By: Phillip B. Wilson, Indy Star
The news on Monday’s day off came from Colts owner Jim Irsay when assessing his team’s performance after a 44-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Irsay is never shy about expressing himself on Twitter and vented through the social media platform:
“Many starters played briefly or were nursing little injuries, but it was a crap performance, my apologies/My commanders got n earful from me!”
By: Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk
Some interesting news that came out of Monday was when the Colts announced that Ahmad Bradshaw will be activated from the PUP list.
However this doesn’t necessarily indicate that Bradshaw is ready to practice.
Per a league source, the Monday move of Bradshaw to the active roster occurred because the Colts allowed Bradshaw to practice eight days ago.
Specifically, he took some handoffs during a walk-through practice. The Colts called downplayed it as “mental reps.”
The league investigated the situation, determined otherwise, and required the Colts to move Bradshaw to the active roster.
Tags: ahmad bradshaw, Jim Irsay
Posted in Colts Blog, COLTS DAILY HEADLINES
Jim Irsay has been affiliated with the Colts since age 13.
Inquisitive youthful years spent around the team have produced an owner and CEO with a deep appreciation for the franchise and for the many men who helped shape and grow the NFL into the nation’s most popular sport.
Art Donovan was one such person, a Hall-of-Famer, and Irsay remembers one of the franchise’s most revered individuals.
“On a weekend when the NFL welcomed more players into the Hall of Fame, we lost one of its most significant enshrinees, Art Donovan,” said Irsay. “Art was the first Colts player to be inducted into the Hall, and his roots date back to the very start of the franchise.
“Art was a battle-tested veteran who stood among the giants in helping lead the Colts to their first two world championships. While many later knew Art as a colorful ambassador to the sport because of his personality, those who played alongside and against him attest to his grit and greatness.
“Art is a beloved figure to many and is the only player to wear number 70 in Colts history. His number is retired among Colts greats.
“Art truly is an unforgettable figure in our sport, and we extend our sympathies to his family.”
Tags: Art Donovan, indianapolis colts, Jim Irsay
Posted in Colts Blog
The Colts will be featured on an upcoming edition of the NFL RUSH ZONE: Season of the Guardians.
This is an animated series on Nicktoons, and Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne will be the featured players.
Luck, Wayne and Rich Eisen are featured along with the team, and the show airs this Sunday (July 21) at 11:00 a.m. (ET) on Nicktoons. It airs a second time on Saturday, July 27 at 8:00 a.m. (ET) on the NFL Network.
This is the second time this year the club, plus Wayne and Luck specifically, have been on television in a scenario a little out of the ordinary.
They joined Jim Irsay in appearing as themselves in an episode of NBC’s Parks and Recreation earlier this spring.
The episode is entitled, “Test of Friendship,” and it is described below:
Episode 213: TEST OF FRIENDSHIP
Ash’s announcement that her Dad is allowing her to take one friend with her on vacation to San Diego has the boys fighting for her attention. But before she can make her decision, they all head to Indianapolis to protect the NFL Combine from impending attack. Colts stars Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne are not enough to stop Drop Kick from stealing the Colts’ Megacore (which he hides from Wild Card – could there be a betrayal in the works?)
Tags: Andrew Luck, indianapolis colts, Jim Irsay, NFL, NFL Network, Nicktoons, Reggie Wayne
Posted in Colts Blog
ESPN.com is doing a series on the “Greatest Coaches in NFL History” as part of a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Vince Lombardi’s birthday.
A group of their best NFL people (one of whom, deservedly, is Bill Polian) comprises the voting panel, and checking in as the 20th-Greatest in their opinion is Tony Dungy.
First off, I am glad Tony is honored. Secondly, I wish he were rated higher. That is my brain and heart speaking.
Tony was my seventh head coach as a Colts publicist. The wonder of that number – seven – was in evidence every day around him.
Tony is one of the few people whose reality far exceeds the image. He does it daily, honestly and easily.
The quote Bum Phillips once made about Earl Campbell holds true for Tony, “I don’t know if he’s in a class by himself, but whatever class he’s in, it don’t take long to call the roll.”
Passed over multiple times in head coaching interviews, Dungy joined Tampa Bay in 1996 and led the Buccaneers to the playoffs four times, once to the NFC Championship game.
He was dismissed in 2001 after consecutive first-round playoff losses, and Jim Irsay hired Tony to be our head coach quickly after that.
Tony’s power and grace could be felt immediately as he entered the building. The smart suit and gold cross on the label were indicators of the man.
His first team address came in normal conversational tone, and he let the players know he never would speak at any higher volume. He never did.
Once when a fracas erupted on the practice field, Tony told players that while he could not prevent fighting in that venue that he did control who played in games. There were no more incidents.
Tony could convey more with less than anyone I’ve seen, and his ability to draw things from within was a special gift.
On more than one occasion, opposing players expressed their regard for him as a coach and person (NFL Films once captured Randy Moss, then with New England, doing so in a very genuine way).
People outside the club asked what it was like working with Tony, and the typical response was, “It’s better than can be explained, and we get to be around him every day.”
Football is a sport of numbers and people, but numbers at the time of his retirement revealed only a bit of his greatness:
- Overall record of 148-79 with a 65.2 winning percentage.
- 148 victories ranked 19th-best in NFL history.
- Had 66.8 regular-season winning percentage (139-69).
- Was 85-27 in regular season with Colts, 92-33 counting playoffs (the winningest Colts head coach).
- One of six head coaches to win 100+ regular-season games in first 10 years of career.
- Directed 11-of-13 teams into the playoffs, reaching three conference title games and one Super Bowl (Super Bowl XLI, where he became the first African-American winner).
- Only Colts head coach with 10+ wins and playoff appearances in each of first seven years.
- Had 10 career double-digit victory seasons and was first coach to defeat all 32 NFL teams.
- Earned 10 consecutive playoff appearances (1999-2001, Tampa Bay; 2002-08, Colts) to surpass Tom Landry (9) for the most by an NFL coach since 1970.
- Earned seven straight 10+-victory seasons (2002-08), tying then the second-longest NFL streak.
- From 2003-08, earned six straight seasons with 11-plus wins, tying the NFL mark, while setting the league standard for the most consecutive seasons with 12-plus victories.
- Only NFL coach to win at least seven consecutive games in five straight seasons (2004-08).
- Won five straight AFC South titles (2003-07).
After a particularly galling 27-point loss at Jacksonville in 2006 where the team allowed 375 rushing yards, Tony stood firmly (even proactively going on network television) to convey we had the players and scheme to win.
Seven games later, the Colts were World Champions and he was hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Without Tony’s leadership, it would not have happened.
From the Chuck Noll influence (with perhaps more than a bit of Tom Moore), Dungy left a great coaching tree, two of whom on it having Colts connections – Jim Caldwell and Leslie Frazier.
There were so many private moments I had with Tony in seven (there’s that number again) years that will last a lifetime.
Maybe my favorite came after the 2007 season when we had a playoff loss at San Diego and there were rumors he would retire to go about his life’s work.
It was back in Indianapolis and he was heading out of the building to return home to meet with his family. In passing as he was about to reach the door, I stopped Tony to convey what I could in words about what he meant to me in case the next time I saw him would be in a non-working capacity.
He offered thanks and a hug. Then, conveying a message without a word – a wink. I knew he was coming back. We smiled and I told no one the secret.
The way Tony molded players and affected lives is something that spans far beyond any numbers he achieved. It is a gift that keeps on giving, for me and I bet many others.
I will make sure to see the coaches the ESPN panel picks ahead of Tony. I guarantee there will be no finer man. It won’t even be close.
As Ron Meyer would say, “Call off the dogs and (put) out the fire, that hunt is over.”
Tags: Bill Polian, Bum Phillips, Chuck Noll, Earl Campbell, indianapolis colts, Jim Caldwell, Jim Irsay, Leslie Frazier, Tom Landry, Tom Moore, Tony Dungy, Vince Lombardi
Posted in Colts Blog