Here is the transcript from Marvin Lewis’ Oct. 25 press conference:
Opening comments …
“In preparing for the Colts, the thing that’s evident is, as the quarterback — (Jacoby) Brissett — is continuing to play within their offense, his comfort (is showing). When you watch on tape, you see the strength of his arm and his ability to reach the outside part of the field, as well as push the ball vertically. He has played without interceptions, which is causing him – maybe – to get trapped a couple more times in the pocket, because he’s not careless with the football, (which is) very evident. With the running back, Frank Gore, you have one of the all-time leading rushers in the history of the NFL. Eventually, when he’s finished, he’ll stack up that way. He’s a really fine, strong downhill runner. He’s been that way ever since he came into the NFL. He obviously was quite the story coming out (of college), overcoming his knee injury in college and continuing to play so physical throughout his career in the league. The have the young guy playing with him now (Colts rookie RB Marlon Mack), who has great speed and versatility. Then on the outside, they’re stocked with speed at wideout. It’s obviously very scary when (Colts WR T.Y. Hilton) is averaging 19 yards per catch. The tight end, who the quarterback has a great comfort with, has 30 catches this season. Their offense is built around those things. We expect them to work it with running the football and the play action, and so forth. Even the naked bootlegs that come off of (play action).
“Defensively, they added some new guys this season, with Hankins (Colts DT Jonathan Hankins) and Sheard (Colts OLB Jabaal Sheard), now Mingo (Colts OLB Barkevious Mingo), who will likely be playing, with the injury to Simon (Colts OLB John Simon). They really changed their front with Margus Hunt, who came from us. So, there are a lot of new guys in their front seven this season. Defensively, they’re physical and have a couple of big guys on the interior of the defensive line. They also have speed rushers on the outside. It’s a game this week where we really have to focus on our preparation, be great at execution and go out and play fast.”
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Are you a little surprised that you won’t be seeing Andrew Luck at this point in the season?
“I can’t really control those things. I think everyone expected him to be coming to play (at this point), since they didn’t place him on PUP (Physically Unable to Perform list) to begin with. Obviously in their anticipation, they wanted him to be practicing, and likely be playing, by this point in the season.”
How is Kevin Minter doing?
“He’s doing well.”
His injury was to his elbow, right?
Is that anything that’s going to require surgery?
Do you think he will recover this season?
How much empathy do you have for Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who is without Andrew Luck and has a new quarterback that has to come in and learn everything on the fly? That can be quite a challenging task…
“It really is. To their credit, they had (Brissett) that they kind of pinpointed, targeted and believed in and gone with. That’s to their credit. They’ve had some other things they’ve really had to overcome. In speaking with Chuck on the field before the last preseason game, they started the season in L.A., with those west coast trips and things going up and down – we know how difficult that can be.”
Is Brissett a guy that stays in the pocket, or does he move around?
“He’s left the pocket. He has carried the ball 31 times, I believe, already this season. (He had a) 25-yard run against Cleveland, which was his longest of the season. He’s a big, strong man, and when he chooses to leave (the pocket), he’s going to cover some ground.”
He’s a red zone guy, too. He has three rushing touchdowns this season. Do you have to make sure and watch out for him down there?
“He’s big and strong. So, when he gets down by the goal line, he can provide a difficult matchup for defensive backs, as far as keeping him out of the end zone.”
You were saying this was a game that was all about your team. Is this a good time to have that, with the stretch of three road games coming up next?
“We have no stretch coming up – we have one game. That’s all that matters. There is no stretch. Just one game.”
Is there extra urgency with this game, as the season is moving along and you don’t want to fall into a three-game hole?
“I think most guys can do that math (laughs). There has got to be some urgency, no question about it. But, you can’t worry about what comes down the line. The focus – and as I tell (the team) – is on this play, this series, this possession, and then move forward from there.”
The defense is one of the best in the league in yards allowed and points allowed, but toward the bottom in forcing turnovers. Is that something that just comes in the scope of the defense, or is it an emphasis?
“It’s been emphasized all the way through. It’s been emphasized since last spring. It just has to come, and you have to take advantage of it. Make opportunity. When it comes, hopefully the ball bounces your way. We certainly have had enough bounce the other way on offense, but haven’t had those same things bounce our way defensively. With the balls being off a hand or a tipped ball – whatever it is – when they happen defensively, they seem to find the ground. Conversely, right now on offense, we’re not having that luck.”
Does it make you wonder how good this defense could be if the turnovers start coming?
“Well, that’s part of playing good defense – sitting on the bench drinking Gatorade. That’s the best defense you can ever play (laughs).”
It’s been 17 straight games since this defense has recovered a fumble. Does it become a law of averages at some point?
“I don’t know that. I don’t know those kind of numbers.”
But we see you guys working on it every day in practice, whether it be stripping the ball or diving on the ground…
That streak could maybe end this week. Indianapolis has fumbled the ball 15 times, and Brissett has coughed it up five times…
“Again, we just have to keep doing what we do, and keep working at it. Hopefully we can get an opportunity and make good on it.”
With Brissett coming into the offense so late, does it look like the offense is still expanding?
They do a lot of different things (offensively), to their credit. They give you a lot of different looks with personnel, formations and where people are. So I would imagine, whatever plan they put together for each week and each opponent, it’s based on those things and whatever they feel. They (will focus on that) and go from there. Your offense is built around your quarterback. It’s not really the vision of the coach as much as what the players within (the system) can handle, and how it applies to the opponent.”
What makes T.Y. Hilton such a threat on the outside?
“He has explosive speed. For a guy that’s not tall, he has a great catch radius and an ability to track the ball downfield. He really has special ability that way, with tracking the ball. He came into the league with those kinds of things, which you could see from his college tape. That was one of his special things, and he has not disappointed.”
Is he the kind of guy you look at and hope that John Ross can be like him?
“You would want (Ross) to continue to evolve into a player that has that kind of capabilities, no question.”
Donte Moncrief had seven touchdowns for them last season. Is he a big red zone guy?
“He’s a very talented player as well. They have skill on the outside. They all can run, they’re good catchers of the football, and you have to do a great job of staying in the proper leverage. They all understand the ins-and-outs of playing wideout.”
How much is the run game efficiency for your offense about winning at the point of attack?
“It might not necessarily need to be the point of attack, but you have to win up front, wherever it may be — up front, on the perimeter, or wherever — because, very quickly, a lot of the times, the (running) back may read the play and need to (reverse) to what you originally considered the back side. The back side can become the front side in a hurry.
“We had good efficiency last week in the first half. At times, our efficiency is better than what it looks like on paper, because many times Andy is taking the ball out on good looks and throwing the ball rather than handing it off. That’s just the way an offense works these days. Then you get a lead and feel better about the running game.”
The Colts have had struggles against the run this year. Is this a game where you’d like to get ahead, get a lead and establish the run early?
“We have to a do a good job – getting back to your initial point – of handling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football. That’s really important on Sunday.”