|Unbeaten Colts spend off week trying to get better|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 11 October 2007 13:29|
Their usually proficient offense is chugging along at its normal pace, and the rebuilt defense has turned into one of the league's biggest surprises. The Colts have won with their regulars and their backups; at home and on the road; and in blowouts and close contests.
To outsiders, it couldn't look much better for the defending champs.
But coach Tony Dungy, always the perfectionist, sees things a little differently.
``We really want to look at ourselves after the first five games and look at the things we didn't do quite as well as we could have,'' Dungy said. ``We want to do some things we don't do a lot, like using two backs, and we want to get better.''
The mere thought of getting better is a scary thought.
Indy (5-0) enters its October bye week for the third straight year with a perfect record.
Early victories at Tennessee and Houston have again put the Colts in full control of the AFC South - a division they've won four straight times - and their last four wins have come against teams either leading or sharing the lead in their respective divisions.
The other numbers are just as impressive.
Indy is third in points scored, 10th in points allowed, tied for first with New England in turnover margin and leads the league in third-down conversions (55.6 percent).
Other teams would embrace those numbers, but when you're playing for NFL championships and trying to keep pace with New England, also 5-0, the margin for error shrinks.
That's why allowing only 17 yards rushing and one meaningful score to Tampa Bay last week didn't pacify the Colts.
``Obviously, we think we could do better,'' middle linebacker Gary Brackett said. ``We let them have two drives on us (Sunday).''
In Indianapolis, it's business as usual.
From Dungy's early pleas to put away the Super Bowl rings to the dismissive talk of back-to-back titles to Indy's quest of becoming the first team in league history with five consecutive 12-win seasons, the Colts have spent this season ignoring the sideshows.
Even now, with a 15-day break and the entire town getting amped up for the Colts' next home game, Nov. 4 against those dreaded Patriots, players refuse to let anything slide past them now.
``We use the bye week to evaluate what we've been doing,'' Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning said. ``The main is to keep doing what we've been doing and the results will follow.''
Dungy, as he typically does, has instructed players to spend a few days with family and friends, albeit with a warning to be safe and smart.
He also wants them to take a mental break so they can return refreshed and healthy.
In some ways, the bye week couldn't have come at a more ideal time.
Five starters - running back Joseph Addai (shoulder), receiver Marvin Harrison (knee), safety Bob Sanders (ribs) and linebackers Freddy Keiaho (concussion) and Rob Morris (knee) - missed last week's game with injuries. Also out was Ben Utecht (concussion), the Colts' second tight end who has started three times this year.
Morris is the only starter out for the season. He was placed on injured reserve last week.
The other five, however, were held out of practice this week and last, and Dungy believe all will play next Monday at Jacksonville.
Yet even though the Colts dominated the Buccaneers - and most of their other opponents - on both sides of the ball, it's clear Indianapolis will need its best players to improve in some of the areas it has cited.
Exhibit 1 is red-zone efficiency.
While Indy's scoring percentage of 96.2 is better than all but four teams, the Colts' touchdown percentage of 53.8 ranks an uncharacteristic 11th. It's something that has concerned Manning since Week 1, and something he intends to use this extra time to fix.
``We hope we have a long run from here on out,'' Manning said. ``We're trying to get ready and stay charged up.''
While most teams and fans would find little on the Colts' resume to quibble with, Dungy realizes that to win another Super Bowl, they certainly can't be complacent.
They have to get better, work harder and iron out some of those kinks few see.
``We've accomplished a lot of things we wanted to,'' Dungy said. ``We went on the road and got two wins, we've scored a lot of points at home and we've gotten some contributions from young people. We just have to keep working at it and improving.''