FORT WAYNE – Not this time, Chuck Pagano. Not even you can sell these groceries.
You’re a man’s man and an inspiration and a stand-up guy among stand-up guys, but last week you’re a stand-up guy fronting a put-up job, and everyone knows it. What was it you said the other day?
Again, you just pull the decals off. Put new decals on and it’s the same scary movie every single week in this league.
Decals. Yeah, that was it.
And, no, we’re not buying.
This is not the same scary movie this time around, because the decals say Seattle this week and not Jacksonville, and one is not like the other. Seattle is unbeaten and untied and the smart guys say it’s one of the two best teams in the NFL. Jacksonville is, well, a team in the NFL.
One comes trailing a wagonload of superlatives. The other requires an asterisk after the words a team in the NFL.
And so one team you beat 37-3 with half your game plan tied behind your back, and the other makes up half of the first marquee game the Colts have played at home in heaven knows how long. Beating the 49ers out on the coast was their letter of introduction; this is entrance exam to the league’s elite. Everyone watches this today, because one way or another it shifts the tectonic plates in both conferences.
Here’s why I like the Colts, going back to the decals: Because they know who they are, and, no, they won’t approach today any differently just because the decal is a streamlined green-and-blue Seahawk instead of a teal-and-gold Jaguar.
I just see it as another week to improve, defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois says. Yeah, somebody might look at it as a big game, but I just look at it as another week to see what type of character we have on this team.
We’re going through the season the way you want to go, defensive end Cory Redding adds.
You just want to kind of steadily increase every week. You want to get better and not worse every single day. That’s what we’re trying to do.
And that’s the gospel according to Pagano.
We’re not getting away from what we do and who we are, he says. We tell everybody (to) prepare like a starter and they do that, and they come in and they just find a way to get the job done. Regardless of the circumstances, that’s our mindset. We can, we will, we must.
That goes whether it’s Jacksonville across the field or Seattle, which comes to Indianapolis off a come-from-behind 23-20 win at Houston, and which once again plays an early game in the Eastern time zone.
That might not mean as much to a team that brings Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch and all those lunch-eating defensive backs to the table, but it’s something to consider against the Colts, who have evolved into team that can run the football, defend the run and has Andrew Luck out there picking his spots, besides.
I never felt like I had to throw for 300 or 350 (yards), Luck says. I don’t think I’ve ever gone into a game saying, I have to hit these benchmarks, or else we won’t win the game.’ We throw the ball. We take our chunks. I just have to make sure I’m on my stuff to hit those chunks.
And if he is on his stuff?
Well. Let’s talk scary movies.