JACKSONVILLE – The question of a team’s identity is one that may not get answered in a game, a month, a regular season or a playoff run.
That’s the difficulty in putting a finger on just what group of professional football players stand for on a given squad.
Yet after a dominating 37-3 victory over the Jaguars, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was ready to proclaim that his team knows exactly who they are.
“I am really proud of this football team. Kinda know who we are and we’re gonna stick to that identity,” said Pagano.
So what is that identity? Pagano didn’t address it specifically. Reggie Wayne tried.
“I hope were the Colts,” joked the receiver when asked about the team’s identity. “In my opinion I think we’re a team that never panics. We just work the process, we continue to play ball. We never get too high or too low.”
That would seem to fit the team if you judge their play the past three weeks. The Colts managed to recover from a painful loss against the Dolphins at home to easily best a favored 49ers team by 20 points on the road. This week roles were reversed as the team from Indianapolis was predicted by many to easily trounce the struggling Jaguars in Jacksonville.
A “Trap Game” it was perceived to be considering the Jaguars’ knack to compete with superior Colts teams in the past-including a win over the 11-5 squad in 2012. Despite a sluggish start, Pagano’s team failed to fall in the trap and easily bested their opponent in Jacksonville for their first AFC South win of the season.
“Our veteran leaders Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis, Cory Redding, Adam Vinateri and on and on, those guys will not allow anybody in that facility or locker room to let off the gas as this point,” said Pagano. “We have too many good things going on right now. Everybody is good in the National Football League.
“If you don’t prepare or execute, anything can happen so we are not going to leave anything to chance. We are going to turn over every stone and do what we have to be able to play well and get better week in and week out.”
Maybe the Colts’ identity is being set by their defense, which is enjoying their best run so far under second year defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. Over two weeks the unit has allowed just one touchdown-and that came in the first quarter of the game in San Francisco. For the last seven 15 minute periods the defense has allowed just three points and didn’t let the Jaguars get to the scoreboard again after the first quarter.
A number of offensive players even credited the defense for being the ones that turned a rough start into a rout.
“I think the way the defense was playing. That sort of carried and lifted us up,” said quarterback Andrew Luck. “I think we knew we were a better offense than what we showed. It’s a credit to Jacksonville. They really put us in some tough spots. They play hard. We have the utmost respect for them.”
But the Colts’ defense played harder, hoping to live up to the expectations created by this calm yet aggressive identity.
“It’s a team game. We have to pick each other up and we had it going,” said Robert Mathis, who collected three sacks on Sunday. “I am very proud of our guys. We just have to keep it going. We lean on each other. We are on a mission. Everybody knows one another and the trust level is sky high.
“We had to go out there and get the job done”