Today’s Colts Notebook features quotes and information courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts Public Relations Department. Yesterday, Bruce Arians talked with the media on the players' day off and answered a wide array of questions. Here are the highlights.
Injury News, Moala Out for the Season
As usual, in his opening statement, Offensive Coordinator/Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians provided updates on the injury front. Coupled with the bad news about DE Fili Moala was some encouraging news about TE Coby Fleener and CB Vontae Davis.
“Out of the ballgame the only serious injury was Fili Moala,” Arians said. “He got an ACL in the ballgame and will be out for the year. Everybody else came out pretty clean. We should be able to get (Coby) Fleener and (Vontae) Davis back this week.
“Obviously it’s a blow because Fili was playing extremely well for us. We’ll pick up the pieces and go on with the defensive line. We’ve had so many injuries there this year that we’ve built some depth. We’ll just continue on with the guys that we have at that position. Clifton Geathers and Lawrence Guy will fill in some roles there along with Ricardo Mathews.”
Moala appeared to play very well on Sunday, winning battles in the trenches and even batting down a pass. Losing him for the season presents a definite challenge. It’s worth bearing in mind too, that Moala’s injury is not expected to force rookie DT Josh Chapman into long-awaited game action, as Arians was quick to remind reporters yesterday. “No, it’s totally a different position,” he said, “and Josh we’re just going to make sure that he’s right before we put him out there.”
Chapman, who has garnered a great deal of interest from fans this season, played much of his senior year at Alabama with a torn ACL, likely similar to Moala’s season-ending injury. The team looks to be taking a very cautious approach to his injury rehabilitation.
Winning the Close Games
Some teams have a penchant for executing plays when it matters most. Indianapolis has experienced four lopsided games this season, beating only the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, the Colts have done remarkably well in seven games where the final margin was a score or less, losing only to those same Jaguars.
Asked if their 6-1 record in close games was more about keeping games close or an ability to make the right plays at the right times, Arians said, “I think a little bit of both. In this one we were able to have a good drive in the third quarter to get a lead and then defensively hold on to it. Had it gotten tied, I don’t think there was any doubt we’d go down and score and win it if we would have had to.
“I think we’ve been able to play at the end of halves and at the end of games extremely well on offense. But we’re the type of team, we’re going to be in a lot of close games and fortunately we’ve found a lot of ways to win them. The big thing for us is to go on the road and protect the football and play good defense and bring those special teams with us on the road and see if we can play our best football on the road.”
It was presented to Arians that pulling out close victories repeatedly is not what most people expect from a young team with a rookie quarterback under center. “I think you’re right, with a normal quarterback,” the coach said. “I don’t think we have a normal one.”
More Praise for Andrew Luck
According to Arians, Andrew Luck is the most advanced rookie quarterback he’s ever worked with. That is a strong compliment from a coach who has worked with Peyton Manning, Tim Couch, and Ben Roethlisberger. “Yes, as far as I’ve been around and personally had my hands on,” the ever candid Arians said about the rookie’s ability.” We’ve asked him to do more than anybody I’ve been around. He’s been able to respond with it and not make the same mistakes twice.
“There were times in the ballgame there he saw some things the first time down in the red zone, we came right back with a very similar play and he hit T.Y. (Hilton) for the touchdown. Once he saw the pictures and what they were doing on the other side earlier in the game on the third-and-three, he was able to adapt and make the play the next time down there.”
Preparing for Detroit’s Defensive Tackles
The Lions, Indianapolis’s next opponent, are known for a disruptive defensive line, featuring the oft-penalized/fined Ndamukong Suh. The young defensive tackle was caught kicking Texans Quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin during their Thanksgiving game, which the Texans won in overtime.
There is some speculation that Suh may serving a suspension when the Colts play the Lions next Sunday. Indianapolis, however, is preparing as though he will play. “Yeah we’re planning for it,” said Arians. “Even if there would be any kind of suspension, I’m sure he would appeal it and still play this week. So we’re anticipating their best guys out there.”
Arians said both LG Joe Reitz and RG Mike McGlynn will have to account for Suh this week. “They’ve got their hands full because Nick Fairley is no piece of cake on the other side or Corey Williams,” he said. “They’ve got three outstanding defensive tackles.”
A Few Good Quotes, More from Bruce Arians
For this section, Coach Bruce Arians will be referred to by his nickname from the players, BA.
BA on why cornerbacks aren’t taller (The Colts will face the very tall Calvin Johnson this week): “I think as you look in college now, you are starting to see these 6-2, 6-3 corners start to come out because everyone has a 6-5 receiver. All the small forwards they’ve got to figure it out, they can’t make it to the NBA, they are all playing wide receiver now.”
BA on yards per attempt versus completion percentage: “I like that quarterbacks have a high completion percentage but I want to average eight yards per attempt. I think that puts you up there, real close. I think the one stat that we are a little bit back where we I’d like to be is first down football. We are averaging 5.7 on first down and I’d like to be over six. We haven’t hit a couple chunks. Early in the year, we missed some chunks on first down that would have put us over six.”
BA on Jerrell Freeman’s improvement: “I think he’s been that way all year. The last couple of ball games, they were more spread passing attacks when you run sideline-to-sideline. He can run sideline-to-sideline with a running back and make the tackle. We’re really happy we have him on our football team because he’s turned into a whale of a football player and really our defensive leader. He’s gotten game balls. He’s been a captain. It’s a great honor for a young player like to him to jump into this group of veteran group of guys on defense and then call him ‘Baby Ray.’”
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Arians wants to average 8 yards per attempt. While I understand that would be outstanding and probably lead the NFL in that category, with the plays he is calling, I just assumed he was trying to average 20 yards an attempt.
@DougEngland The math of that means he's only hoping for a 40% completion rate on 20 yd plays...looking at his quote there does explain pretty much everything regarding lucks raw numbers this year. Love it or hate it, we're still winning more than not...so I'll take it (provided my heart can take it as well!).