By Tom James For The Lebanon Reporter
---- — The Indianapolis Colts scored 21 points in their first game, a 21-17 win over Oakland last week.
Indianapolis’ new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton had introduced a different style of attack than what fans grew accustomed to seeing a year ago when Bruce Arians was in charge.
Arians’ system wasn’t better. Just different from what Hamilton wants to get accomplished.
Now, heading into the team’s home game with Miami on Sunday, the Colts would like to see continued improvement in the offense, specifically, and in the overall play of the team overall.
“As long as we move the chains and you can put points on the board, I really don’t care about it to be honest with you. I think you’ve got to be able to, I’ll say it until they run me out of here, you’ve got to be able to run the football,” head coach Chuck Pagano said this week.
“We took a few shots down the field last week. We missed them. We’ve got to hit those. We got to hit our chunk plays. I think balance is important and that’s one thing we thought we needed to do, regardless, was have better balance. Certainly when you can run the ball, it takes a little heat off of your quarterback.”
He has no issues with the job done by Hamilton in the Raiders game.
“If you look at it, Pep’s been at both levels. He’s been in the NFL for a long period of time and been around NFL football, so to speak. So I don’t think it’s that. I think it’s more just getting a system and play calls and getting everybody on the same page. We knew it wasn’t going to happen overnight, particularly with the way the offseason is anymore, the way training camp is and preseason,” Pagano said.
“We all go into preseason and guys get a certain amount of reps. We know which guys get more and which guys get less. So now it’s like, OK, your first offense, your first defense, the guys on special teams, your core players on teams, they’re all playing together for the first time a significant amount of reps. So I think it’s more just time and getting everybody on the same page. And we’ll get better with each and every week.”
Protecting the football is another issue. The Colts have cut down on fumbles and giving up the ball on interceptions.
“Every week we go in on Wednesday morning when they come back in. We start with a special teams meeting, then we have a team meeting. We go through the keys to victory and that’s first and foremost every time,” Pagano said.
“They get tired of hearing it, but if you protect the football and you take it away. Again, we saw last week, tight ball games it doesn’t matter. It’s the number one indicator, other than score, for wins and losses in the National Football League. So we’re going to emphasize it daily.”
With the Dolphins game coming up, Pagano knows that Indianapolis will be tested on both sides of the ball. The two teams butted heads for four quarters last season at Lucas Oil Stadium, with the Colts pulling out a 23-20 victory.
“(They haven’t changed) that much. Just missing (running back) Reggie Bush. I think anybody would love to have Reggie Bush in their backfield. First and second down run game. I mean he rushed for almost 1,000 yards last year for them. They got more than capable backs back there in (Lamar) Miller and the other guys. I think the tight end, losing (Dustin) Keller, hurt a little bit. They’ve got guys that are capable,” Pagano said.
“Those are two pretty good weapons from an offensive standpoint that defensively you’ve got to make sure you tend to. Not that we don’t have to tend to the other guys, but there are key components that aren’t there right now.”
One big component on defense for the Dolphins is defensive end Cameron Wake.
“Yeah, we’re going to know where he’s at. It’s really no secret. Pretty much 99.9 percent of the time, he’ll be lined up to our offense’s right, defensive left. That’s one thing, to know where he is. It’s a different thing getting him blocked. The guy is very, very athletic, very powerful. He’s got a nice toolbox full of rushes,” the Colts coach explained.
“He’s good versus the run. Obviously 15 sacks a year ago, two and a half sacks in the opener versus Cleveland. He’s a great player. Great, great player. So we got to make sure we tend to him.”
Irsay strikes again
Team owner Jim Irsay issued a Twitter challenge to the Colts’ offensive line Wednesday.
“Raiders/Colts/1) we gotta protect #12 (Luck) better...and that includes more than just OL (offensive line)...it’s backs, TEs (tight ends), coaches on blitz pick ups...I DEMAND better,” Irsay tweeted.
“Dolphins/Colts-Make no mistake about it/The Fish CAN and WILL bring the HEAT...We gotta MAN-UP and confront HEAT with a NASA-like Heat-Shield.”
After spending heavily on the veteran free agent market during the offseason, which included the signing of offensive guard Donald Thomas and offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus, Indianapolis allowed four sacks of quarterback Andrew Luck in the win over Oakland.
Improving the Colts’ pass protection was a major point of emphasis in the offseason after Luck was sacked 41 times as a rookie.
Pagano understands the concern. He reiterates how important it is to keep his quarterback on his feet.
“It’s every week. That’s all of our offices, every single office up and down the hallways. A big circle with ‘Protect 12 (Andrew Luck).’ As long as 12 is upright and on his feet, we’ve got a much better chance of winning than losing,” the Colts coach said.
“We’re fully aware of that and we will do everything, exhaust everything, to make sure we take care of him and keep him clean.”
It looks as if inside linebacker Pat Angerer and wide receiver/kick returner David Reed may be able to play against the Dolphins.
Angerer missed the Oakland game with a concussion. He fully practiced on Wednesday.
Reed, meanwhile, had concussion issues and a quad injury that sidelined him against the Raiders. He was held out of the workout.
Inside linebacker Kavell Conner (ankle) and tight end Dwayne Allen (hip) are listed as day-to-day.
They did not practice Wednesday. Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (quad) saw limited work.
Outside linebacker Quinton Spears was waived from injured reserve on Tuesday. Spears was hurt during the pre-season.
Six players remain on the Colts’ injured-reserve list: cornerback Daxton Swanson, fullback Dan Moore, outside linebacker Justin Hickman, inside linebacker Scott Lutrus, outside linebacker Lawrence Sidbury and offensive guard Justin Anderson.