|Time for Super Bowl champs to get back to work|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 26 July 2007 10:41|
Instead, Dungy wants the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday to report motivated and determined to do one thing - win another Super Bowl.
``We've come off disappointing losses in the past and now we're coming off a win,'' Dungy said. ``It really isn't any different for us. It's about practicing well and preparing well.''
Try telling that to the rest of the league, which undoubtedly will target the Super Bowl champs each week this season.
Dungy has seen it work before.
In 1978, he was on the Pittsburgh Steelers' Super Bowl-winning team. At training camp the next year, Dungy noticed those shiny, new rings were gone although the desire to win another one was not. Eventually, Pittsburgh traded Dungy to the San Francisco 49ers, then went on to win its fourth Super Bowl crown in 1979.
Dungy, mild mannered and soft spoken, believes that approach still works.
``Coach (Chuck) Noll's attitude and the players' attitude was that they put the rings away before training camp because they wanted to go win another one,'' he said. ``Coach Noll and those guys were never intimidated by trying to win another title.''
So far, neither Dungy nor Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning has seen any signs of complacency during offseason workouts.
Just in case the Colts don't get the message, though, Dungy has been working on his note cards. The first point in Sunday's welcoming speech: It's a new season and a different team.
Indy must replace eight players from last season's projected opening-day lineup. Gone are linebackers Cato June and Gilbert Gardner, cornerbacks Jason David and Nick Harper, defensive tackle Montae Reagor, running back Dominic Rhodes, receiver Brandon Stokley and recently retired left tackle Tarik Glenn.
Until this week, most thought the biggest challenge would be filling the holes at cornerback. But losing Glenn, a three-time Pro Bowl choice, poses an even bigger risk - he's been Manning's blind-side protector since the Super Bowl MVP's rookie season.
Possible scenarios include moving right tackle Ryan Diem to the left side or trying second-year tackle Charlie Johnson, who replaced the injured Diem in the Super Bowl. Second-round pick Tony Ugoh was expected to replace Glenn next year and remains unsigned.
The exodus, coupled with moves made by rival New England, has many thinking the balance of power in the AFC already has shifted to the Northeast, although Dungy insists he won't use that as motivation.
``I don't know that's going to make it any easier, but what will is that we've lost some guys and we need some young guys to step in,'' Dungy said. ``It just isn't the same team coming back.''
Point No. 2: Dungy doesn't think the Colts played their best football in 2006, and the stats back it up.
Indy finished the regular-season ranked last in the NFL against the run, and near the bottom of the league on both coverage units. Yet in the playoffs, it was a strong defensive effort that helped the Colts overcome turnovers.
Dungy expects improvement in all three areas.
``We definitely didn't play consistently at all in the regular season on defense, and in the playoffs, we turned the ball over more than we should have, and we still made it,'' he said. ``I think we can be better.''
Plus, there's the double-edged sword of repeating.
The exclusive back-to-back champions club includes only eight teams, the last being New England in 2003 and 2004. In contrast, 12 Super Bowl winners missed the playoffs the next season, including four teams - Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, New England and Denver - since 1999.
Manning, for one, has no intention of losing focus.
``Once next season starts, if you're still wearing it (the ring), I think you're sort of hanging on to it,'' he said in June.
And that's just what Dungy wants to hear.
``The only thing I'll say is that it's not really a repeat because we don't have the same team,'' Dungy said. ``So let's think Super Bowl and think about a championship just like we always have. Let's think division first, then conference and then the Super Bowl because we do want to win it all.''