Dungy and Manning addressed the Houston media in separate conference calls on Wednesday.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy and quarterback Peyton Manning, the reigning Super Bowl MVP, spoke to the Houston media on Wednesday via conference call about their upcoming showdown with the Texans.
Head coach Tony Dungy
(on QB Peyton Manning's progress over the years) "I think that he is much more experienced. He understands the defenses a lot better. He's seen five years of how people have tried to play us and he's worked with most of our receivers for five years now, so just that familiarity is better. When we got here, we talked about a concept of remaining explosive but protecting the ball better. He's certainly done that. We've had the explosive years, 49 touchdowns, 30-plus touchdowns, but every year, his interceptions, his errors, go down. I think that's just from learning the game."
(on what he's seen from the Texans in the first two games and if they look like a much different team with QB Matt Schaub) "I don't think it's all Matt Schaub, but they look like a different team to me. They are playing very confident. They are not making mistakes to beat themselves. They're playing extremely physical on defense. They're knocking the ball loose. They've got people dropping balls. They're just playing very, very sound. I think Gary Kubiak has done a great job of getting his idea of how to play across to the guys. Certainly, Schaub has helped in giving them that confidence and some play making there, but you see it in everything. You see it in the way they're running, in the way the are controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and the fact they're just playing very, very sound football."
(on what he sees in QB Matt Schaub as a first-time starter) "What he's doing is running the offense extremely well. He's not making mistakes. He's getting rid of the ball, going to the right guys when teams play zone against them. He's not holding the ball and let any kind of pressure form. He's getting rid of it quick and he's been accurate with it. I'm not sure how they do their running game, but they seem to be getting into the right plays and giving their guys a chance to succeed and staying out of long-yardage situations."
(on the progress made by RB Joseph Addai) "We're not at all surprised at what Joseph is doing. He really picked things up very quickly last year. We didn't start him during the regular season so he maybe didn't get as much notoriety as some of the other rookie backs, but Joseph played well for us all year. We felt very comfortable that he could be the lead back for us. He is another guy that has just grown in his second year. I know he mentioned to me in training camp just how much easier it was because he knew a lot more about the offense and he wasn't worried about his assignments so much this year as looking at the defenses, understanding the whole picture. He's really coming on."
(on how things have changed for him since winning the Super Bowl) "Well personally, it's been a lot different. You certainly get recognized a lot more. You're stopped a lot more, and not just in Indianapolis which I expected, but pretty much all over the country when you travel. That part has been a little bit fun. I think from a team standpoint and how we're doing, it really hasn't affected us too much. I think our guys have come in and worked hard and understand that we have to go back to square one and build the 2007 team. Certainly, personally, I've gotten a lot more attention."
(on he feels that the Colts have more of a target on their back this year) "I think a little bit more. We were used to playing high profile games and playing meaningful games week in and week out. That part isn't new, but the fact that when you come into town, people are talking about the defending Super Bowl champions. There are more nationally televised games and different scheduling because of Thursday nights and Sunday nights and Monday nights. It's probably a little bit different then it has been."
(on if it changes their game plan if WR Andre Johnson doesn't play) "It really doesn't. What it does is take away a tremendous player for them and a big play player, no question. They've got other guys who can make plays and they beat us last year without Andre having a huge game. The way they beat us is, I think the way they plan to play us, and we've got to do something to try to control the running game and control the intermediate passes. It's going to be a tall order with or without Andre Johnson. Certainly, when you lose a player of that caliber, it has to hurt."
(on if it's difficult for the quarterback to overcome the loss of someone that talented) "You can't look at it that way. You have to look at it as how your team is going to be and other guys that to step up. We've lost players in big games and we've had guys get hurt and you just have to assume that the next guy is going to come in and do his job and that the other guys will pick up the slack."
(on what he's seen from CB Dunta Robinson) "I thought he was playing well his entire career. When he came out, we thought he was the top corner coming out that year. He's played well for them. I think that he's actually taken it to another level this year, much more in terms of consistent coverage. He's always been a physical player and I think he looks like he's taken it on himself to really set the tone for that secondary. Not only making big plays, but really play his position perfectly every play. He's been an impressive guy to watch these first two regular season games."
(on what the Colts didn't do well when they lost last year in Houston) "They just out-played us. They were more physical then we were. They got the takeaways. They controlled the line of scrimmage and they looked like they were playing at 78 RPMs and we were at 45. We just have to try to match their intensity this year, tackle a little bit better, and control the ball when we have it."
(on he saw anything change with his team after that loss) "We didn't have a lot of time. We had to come back and play Miami and that was a game that we had to win to stay as the third seed. We had pretty much lost the two seed at that point. We knew we weren't going to get a bye, so that maybe changed our thinking a little bit. Really what happened at that point, we were playing hot and cold. We were playing one week well, one week not so well. The only that that we understood from there on out is we weren't going to be able to have an off week. If we were, we were going home."
(on what would be an "X" factor for Sunday's game) "I think the biggest 'X' factor will be takeaways. We turned the ball over, I think, on our first or second play of the game and got behind the eight ball last year. They're leading the league in giveaway/takeaway and we're tied for third, I think. That's always going to be a factor, what team protects the ball the best. And on special teams, they have some great returners and we have to make sure that we do a great job not giving them that great field position."
QB Peyton Manning
(on the Colts' start and how it's been going on offense so far) "Well, we've had two good wins. We've beaten two good teams, won our home opener and then had a tough road game last week in Nashville. But every week's a new test and we've got a tough road division game this week against Houston. But offensively, I have some new players, a new left tackle and a new slot receiver. Those guys are getting a lot of experience early and you're trying to help those guys come along and our veteran players are doing a good job helping those guys with the transition."
(on if the Texans did anything different defensively in their last meeting) "Well, it was the first year of that system, so yeah I guess everything's a little bit different because you're not as familiar with it. You just played them two times, we played them pretty early in the season and then that was the second to last week, and they'll have some different packages this week that we haven't seen either. So any time you're going against a new system in its first or second year, it's always going to be a little bit new to you, so you just try to be real sound in what you're doing and try to execute against their different looks."
(on the Texans being 2-0 for the first time ever) "Well, they've had two good wins. Like I said, for them it's been similar to us. They started out at home and had a good win against the Chiefs and to go down into Charlotte, which is a tough place to play, and beat a good Carolina team after being down, I just watched the defensive film but you look at the score and you know they're down, I guess 14-0 early, and to come back on the road and get that kind of win is a very good win."
(on how he reacted after the loss to Houston last year) "Well, like any time you do, it's disappointing. No matter what the situation is, at what point in the season it was, it's disappointing when you have a chance to clinch, we had a chance to clinch I believe a bye at that point. So that was a big opportunity for us, and to let that get away from us was disappointing because we had to go on the road to Baltimore, which we ended up winning, but it was certainly a tough game. We had an opportunity in Houston to just have got it done and we didn't so it was disappointing, but give them credit."
(on if the loss was a wake-up call for the Colts before the playoffs) "Well, not really. I think we got our share of wake-up calls sort of late in the season. I remember that was kind of part of a little bit of a slide for us. We lost our last four road games and so we were for whatever reason not playing as well on the road at that point, but we had a tough loss to Jacksonville and lost to the Titans at well. We had a good win against Miami in the last game of the regular season, and in the playoffs, we got some guys back that were hurt, got them back healthy and just kind of got hot at the right time."
(on if anything from that game sticks out to him that they didn't do well offensively) "Well, we didn't have many possessions. I watched the other day, we just had 45 plays. So it's just a matter of trying to be productive when you have those possessions. We did some good things but had a couple of third downs that we didn't convert and that ended up resulting in either a field goal or a punt, and that ended up kind of being the difference."
(on the difficulty of a quarterback playing without his top wide receiver) "Well, that's part of football. (WR) Marvin (Harrison) has been kind of the receiver that's been here the longest since I've been here. I think he's only missed maybe five guys since I've been here, so he's been a very durable guy. But I remember the one time he didn't play, I think maybe my third, fourth – maybe my, I don't know, I'm getting old I guess – it was my fifth or sixth year I guess, but we played the Jets and Marvin didn't play. You certainly didn't expect it, but we ended up having a big passing day, had I think over 400 yards passing. (WR) Troy Walter stepped in, (WR) Reggie Wayne was really coming into his own at that point. So the old cliché is true, when one of your top receivers or top players goes down, there's an opportunity for somebody else to step up."
(on what makes WR Marvin Harrison so special) "Well, like I said, his consistency from year to year. He keeps himself in good shape. He runs as well here in his 12th year as he did when I got here in his third year, so that's a real credit to him. He's just very consistent with his routes and a very deceptive route runner."
(on if he was surprised when he heard that Houston beat Carolina) "I didn't really have any kind of reaction at all, I guess. Like I said, I saw the film and just watched it from just an X's and O's point of view, but their defense played well. After being down 14-0, had a lot of three-and-outs on Carolina and caused a couple of big turnovers."
(on if the AFC South is significantly tougher this season) "I think it's always been a good division, I really do. I mean we've always had close games against all of our opponents, especially on the road. So it's always been a tough division and I think this year it'll be tough as well. I think Jacksonville is solid, Tennessee is solid and like I said, Houston's off to a great start."
(on which of Houston's defensive players jump out at him on film) "Well, some of the same ones from the past couple years. Of course (CB Dunta) Robinson's an excellent cover corner, and it looks like (LB DeMeco) Ryans is kind of the leader on that defense playing that middle linebacker spot. And then of course their defensive front is a very athletic group, I mean (DE Mario) Williams is an extremely talented guy who's just got tons of ability. So really across the board, they're very solid. They play real hard, they play together, they're sound in what they do. So the offense has to be really sharp on its execution in order to have a chance to move the ball."
(on how Robinson ranks among other corners he goes against) "Oh, I don't know, I don't really rank them, I guess. But he's got great speed, and great change of direction. He had a great interception, kind of a critical point in the game against Carolina picking off a route, it was a zone coverage but he kind of baited the quarterback and made a great play. But I just think they have athletic ability really all the way across the board."
(on if there's any different feeling this year after already winning the Super Bowl) "No. You know, here we are in the middle of the season. We're coming off a tough, tough road win and once you get in the middle of the season, regardless of what happened last year, regardless of if it finished positive or with a loss, you get so wrapped into what's going on currently that's really all you think about. So last week, the focus all week was Tennessee and this week, it's all about Houston."