INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts scored early, they scored often and they cruised to a win over the Houston Texans. Coach Chuck Pagano can exhale a bit.
The Colts improved to 9-5 with their 25-3 win over the Texans on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, putting them in position to match last year's 11-5 record if they can beat Kansas City and Jacksonville in their final two games.
Pagano talked to the media about the win. Here are his thoughts:
Can you talk about your decision to open the game in the no-huddle offense?
“Again, just looking for a spark. Just going back, we've tried that before and just looking for a way to get the offense going. Obviously going down the field and having a score on the opening drive, I think we did, right? Was obviously a big bonus and a confidence builder and all that stuff. Again, just really looking for a way to get started faster.”
Did not having a fullback (because of Stanley Havili's injury) impact your decision to go that route at all?
“No, because we had the three tight ends up and Jack Doyle, Wes Saunders, all those guys know that position if we wanted to put them back there. So that didn't really have anything to do with it.”
Did this team need a feel-good victory like this after six or seven weeks of just sort of treading water?
“Yeah, we did. And again, we left some points out there. But yeah, we needed it. We talked all week about coming back. With these last three ballgames, even though we had won the division, clinched that, our first goal, we wanted to start building and gain some momentum, get a spark, whatever you want to call it. And so this was certainly something that's very positive for our football team, our organization moving forward into this next game against Kansas City on the road and then the last one here and then the playoffs. So yeah, most definitely.”
Can you talk about the difference in the options you have from a play-calling standpoint when you score first and you're not stuck playing from behind?
“It opens things up for you on both sides. Defensively, it seems like the last five, six weeks every call is you're hanging in the balance because you're struggling to get something going on one side of the ball, and so on the other side, it's like, I know being a signal caller for a year at my previous job that when that happens, it makes it extremely difficult to call. You're worried about every call because one play and then it's seven points. One play and it could be 14, so it was nice to get out to a good start, get a score on the board for both offense and defense from a play-calling standpoint.”
Darius Butler had two interceptions, both intended for Andre Johnson. You guys seem to be at your best when you're causing havoc on defense.
“Yeah, it was big. D-Buts is a playmaker, as we know. Again, they did a great job. They practiced really well. They were bound and determined to make amends for what Andre did to us in the first ballgame down there, specifically in the first half, three touchdowns and almost 200 yards. I think he had four catches for whatever, 20 or 30 yards, whatever it was. And so I'm really proud of the guys in the back end. They stepped up. D-Buts getting two interceptions was huge.”
You mentioned the team needing this. What about Trent Richardson and his performance (64 yards rushing, 38 yards receiving and a touchdown reception)?
“Absolutely. Can't do anything but help his confidence. Trent's been practicing extremely well also. Trending in the right direction, obviously. Feeling more comfortable with the offense, so you're going to see him do nothing but take off from here. We saw it two weeks ago, last week and now with the positive things that happened to him today, it's great for Trent and great for our offense and great for his confidence.”
What does a season like this solidify for Robert Mathis?
“Again, 11 years in, leading the league in sacks, 16.5, all-time sack leader in franchise history, having that record now. Just broke, a couple weeks back, forced fumble, all-time leader in the history of the game, just surpassed Jason Taylor at 40 and now I think he's got 42 or 43, whatever the number is. Again, he should be, in my opinion and probably everybody else's opinion that's certainly a Colts fan and part of this organization, should be in the conversation someday to be in the Hall of Fame I would think. Doing what he's done for as long a period that he's done and the records that he has, who knows? We'll see. He's got my vote. I don't have one, but he's got it anyway.”
You always preach that everyone prepares like a starter, but how impressive was Griff Whalen today (first career touchdown, 51-yard punt return)?
“Yeah, it's a testament to his work ethic and the character that he has. I talked about it to the team in there because Griff's been active, been cut, been put back on the practice squad two and three times. When you look at the roster, we know the roster is fluid and things like that happen and you have a choice to make when that happens to you. And certainly Griff's not one of those guys that would go in the tank, so to speak. He's a grinder. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He's got something to prove, obviously, and he's not one of those guys that got away from doing the things that you need to do in order to have another opportunity, which he had, and then take advantage of it. Made some big catches today and punt returns were outstanding. Again, it's just a testament to Griff and the man that he is and the type of guy that he is.”
The two games Mike McGlynn has started at center have been your two best rushing games. Is there any thought to making that move permanently?
“Again, it happened because of injury. I think the one previously you're talking about is San Fran, and we won that ballgame going away. We're fortunate that Mike has versatility and can do that for you. We're also fortunate that a young guy like Xavier Nixon was called to duty early in that deal. He gets a rep here and there at guard, but he's primarily a backup swing tackle for us. Got thrown into the mix early and found a way to get things done for us. So again, much like Griff, it's a young guy that's taking advantage of his opportunity and preparing.”