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Transcripts: 9-11-2022 Press Conferences


Opening Statement

"To start the game off, you want to have a winner, you want to play well. We had our opportunities. We talk a lot about finishing. We didn't finish the way we would like. 20-3 lead at home, you would like to think you could finish that off, but we didn't. Some good things we did early on to get 20 points. Offensively, O.J. Howard coming in, making an impact right away the way he did. But never really got the running game going completely, so the passing game can help an awful lot. Passing the ball though. And I thought the big sack there where we had the turnover, I think we were plus two at the time, turnover ratio-wise, that really gave them momentum going the other direction. They were holding on at the end. Both teams were a little tired there at the end. We had control, they had control, of course, with the field goal, and once they missed it, we had an opportunity. On the third-down play before the fourth-down play we had, the plan wasn't to lose yards on that, and I made a decision on 4th-and-3. And there's a lot of football left going into the season. It's kind of simple as that. I felt like a tie was better than a potential loss. Defensively, we weren't really stopping them an awful lot there at the end."

On the 4th-and-3 at the end, did you hesitate before you decided to punt?

"We thought about it. I knew if we didn't get it, they had time, and it's not like we were playing our best defense then. If we had made it, we would have been in position. Just felt like there, based on what all had happened in the game, that was the right decision."

At first, you all went to RB Dameon Pierce a lot more, but then started going to RB Rex Burkhead. Why was that?

"As we look at the plays now, Rex got a chance to carry the ball more. Passing plays, passing situations, Rex was our lead back in that situation, so that's kind of what happened. In an ideal world, of course, when you have a lead, you would like for that not to be the case, but once they came back at the end, that's when the numbers started changing a little bit."

How do you feel the sack and forced fumble changed the complexion and momentum of the game?

"It changed it completely. We had control. In the end, it was about playing field position, us not turning the ball over, especially in a favorable position, which we did. Those are things you have to clean up from Week 1 to 2 that can cost you. If not cost you with a loss, at least force you to tie."

With that sack and the fumble, what did you see with that and where was the miscommunication?

"I'll have to watch the video a little bit, but when a guy comes clean like that on the backside, you kind of figure out maybe who the culprit was, but I didn't see it. We'll watch the video, and see from there. Bad, no matter what the situation, bad on our part."

You said that losing yards before the 4th-and-3 impacted your decision. If you had not lost yards before the fourth-down decision to punt, would you have gone for it then?

"I felt like we had two plays, that it was two-down territory as I looked at it then before the loss. Again, just made the decision based on us losing those yards, that's what we should do."

On the decision to punt, why not just go for it to see if you can get in field goal range instead of punting and settling for the tie?

"Because I felt like a tie was better than a loss in that situation. It's a decision that you make. If you would guarantee that we were going to get it, then it was good. But if you miss it right there and they had stuffed us on the play, they have one play and they're in position. It's not like we were playing our best defense at the time. We were drained. We were gassed a little bit. That's how it goes. In an ideal world, you don't want a loss, you want a win, but if you can't get the win, sometimes you settle for the tie. A lot of football left to go in the season."

Was it part of the game plan to have OL Kenyon Green working with the first team offense?

"Yes, it's been a game plan. Kenyon had an injury in training camp, kind of knocked him back a little bit, but he's going to be our guard. Rookie coming in, we had a plan when to get him in and then play him from there."

At the start of the fourth quarter, you all had roughly something that might be in K Ka'imi Fairbairn's field goal range. What goes into the decision to punt versus giving Ka'imi an opportunity there?

"Like you said, it was roughly in his range. Didn't feel like that was it at the time. Felt like backing them up, playing defense was our best option then."

Once you got the 20-3 lead and the momentum switched the other way, did the Colts do anything different than what you'd seen?

"No, we talked about the turnover that really hurt us, but besides that, no. Maybe the most disappointing drive defensively was the last drive that they scored running the football, and we just didn't tackle well. They had to go a long distance for it, and that was our worst ball right there defensively was on that drive."

It's not a secret that the Colts were favored to win this game. Were you encouraged with what you saw from your team in the first three quarters?

"Definitely was encouraged the first three. We were definitely the underdogs. This is a team that's supposed to do great things. Felt like we matched up pretty good. When you play a team like that and you leave without a loss, it's just how it happened as much as anything. But there's a lot of things for us to build on. When you get a lead like that, some good things have to happen on both sides of the football and special teams, so that's what we'll build on. Normally the gain, the biggest gain, during the season is from Week 1 to Week 2, and hopefully against the Broncos that will be the case for us."

Can you talk about how your secondary played?

"How they've been playing throughout, good football players and everybody has to get your first game, first action under your belt. But about 20 plays is the most that they've had. Today, to be able to play an entire game, and it didn't really cost us. Where they were supposed to be most of the time. Encouraged by the start. Excited by what we're going to see in the future from both of them."

I think this was QB Davis Mills' 12th NFL start. Do you feel like he got a little gun-shy towards the end?

"I can't say gun-shy. None of us, I didn't coach my best ball at the end. We didn't finish the way we need to. Davis is a part of that. Looking at it on the other hand, for us to be able to get that lead, Davis had to do some good things. So we're going to build on those good things, going to learn an awful lot from this game, but we'll recover."

Could you tell us about your plan for QB Jeff Driskel and do you think he'll be active for every game now?

"Most people probably didn't have him being active today, and whenever you can put someone like that in at quarterback, it's different than Davis. And the play that we ran, just felt like we could give us a run-pass option guy when you put him in, and that was a big play he came in for. We'll have that option available each week. We'll see how it goes next week."


What did you like about QB Davis Mills' performance and what do you think he needs to improve?

"I'm very proud of Davis. You could just tell in the way he played today that there is a big leap on where he was from last year to this year. We all have to improve in some sort of way."

When you look at the fourth quarter, did you notice anything different that CB Stephon Gilmore or any of the secondary could have done differently?

"No, obviously they've got a great secondary, but truly at the end of the day, there was a lot going on from us biting ourselves in the foot. Quite frankly we just can't do that."

You guys were favored to lose. How frustrating is it to have to accept a tie after you were?

"Obviously it's frustrating, but at the end of the day, we've got to trust Coach in that instance. The facts are the offense had plenty of chances to be able to not have to do that and we didn't capitalize, and we've just got to be better."

Can you talk about what you've seen from this wide receiving group?

"Like I've always said, we've got a great group of men, and guys that play for one another and selfless football, and they all can just play at a high level. I think you see some of those guys stepping up in big-time moments."

How big was the sack fumble? Could you feel that changing the momentum?

"It was huge, obviously, as an offense, you never want to turn the ball over and we were doing such a great job up until that moment. But it happened. We've got to be better around him, so we don't have those instances. We've got to be able to come back. Like I said, we had chances to capitalize, and we just didn't from there on."

The offense struggled a lot in the fourth quarter. How much do you think that played into allowing the Colts to come back?

"I mean, huge. At the end of the day, our defense was doing such a great job. We've got to be able to score points. That's what we expect of ourselves. Like I said, we've just got to be better."

What were some of those self-inflicted wounds that you all were doing on offense?

"Penalties, the name of the game. Anytime you've got penalties, especially late in the game, that's going to hurt you."

In overtime, there was two plays to try and get one yard. Is it a little frustrating to settle for a tie when you potentially could go for it?

"Like I said earlier, we had our chances, especially before that moment on fourth down. We've got to have that mindset to go get that yard, all 11 guys on the field, and we quite frankly didn't do that."

What was your initial reaction when you saw the punt team come out in the fourth down?

"Obviously, as a competitor, you want to be able to go for it, but that's where you trust your coach in that instance. Coach Lovie has seen a lot of ball, and at the end of the day whatever he says, we trust that and we keep it pushing."

What did you see from Pep Hamilton's play calling as offensive coordinator?

"I thought it was awesome. He was efficient. He put us in positions to be able to make plays, drive the ball down the field. It's simple, and let the players go out there and play, and that's what you like to see."

What would you say your biggest takeaway after a game like this?

"It's a different team. The work that we've been putting in over the summer and the spring has showed up. But obviously, there's some more to go. We're going to keep pushing, keep knocking at that door, and keep getting better every single week. And I love what we've got, no doubt."


You guys were up 20-3. What happened after the sack and the fumble, offensively?

"You just felt the momentum change after that play. It felt like we've just got to maintain what we had moving in the first half and going into the third quarter on offense. We're close. That's situational football. That's what matters. We kicked two field goals tonight. When we go down there, we've got to convert those into touchdowns and just got to continue to execute, be better on 3rd down and be better running the football. I've got to be more efficient, as well. I think we're close. We've got a lot to work on. We're happy with where we're at, but we know we've got to keep pushing forward and change the result into a win."

When you look at the 3rd down play the coaches try to run the ball, is it a little frustrating that they're not trusting you to get that one yard?

"Not necessarily. We're confident in our guys we have up front and in our running backs to be able to make a third down conversion in the run game and be able to mix it up that way. I don't think there's anything to look at too much deeper than that."

WR Brandin Cooks said multiple times that you guys had opportunities to try and steal the game away, but is it a little frustrating to see the punt team come out when you were just a yard short?

"I think so. I think we want to execute better on offense. I mean, I respect Coach (Lovie's) decision to do what he did, but, I mean, when it comes down to it, I think it was on us. We could have been better on first and second down, and on third down to convert. It's on us, too."

It looked like you guys lost a little bit of gas during the fourth quarter. What would you say was the Achilles heel there?

"I think it's just continuing to execute and do our jobs. Situational football is a big thing for us. On third down, in the red zone and those got-to-have-it moments, two-minute drives. We've just got to continue executing and doing our jobs in those situations so we can keep driving the football."

You guys started slow offensively in the first quarter, and in the fourth quarter and overtime you guys struggled down the stretch. What were the biggest reasons for those issues?

"I think simple execution. We've got to be on the same page with my receivers. Sometimes I thought I could have been held onto the ball a little bit longer. The offensive line for the most part of the game did a really good job protecting their guys. I had time all night. Just simple execution that we can continue to work on and stress. I think overall we're close. That was a football team that practically shut us out two times last year, and I thought we played well the whole night. Defense and special teams played well. Offense, we did some really good things. But the result shows. We've got a lot to work on, and we're ready for it."

Several times throughout the game those sideline throws were a little high, and then after the fumble it seemed like you got a little jumpy in the pocket. Can you walk us through what changed there in the fourth quarter?

"I mean, I don't think anything changed after the fumble. I've still got to continue to do my job. Like you mentioned, I was kind of off on some of those sideline routes. Some of them I was trying to get the ball out early so I'm not taking hits or sacks for my offensive line and trying to anticipate. On stuff like that, we'll continue to stress the timing, and I'll get better with the ball placement."

Considering the fact that you built up a big lead and almost lost the game in overtime but ended up with a tie. Do you still take some positives out of this game?

"Yeah, definitely. It's a long season ahead of us. A tie is always better than a loss when it comes down to it. It could change some things at the end of the season in the division, so that'll be big. But I think after this our guys have got a bad feeling, and we're ready to go out and change the result next time."

How do you feel because you know you could have won this game? How disappointed are you?

"I'm definitely disappointed. We knew we could win. We put ourselves in a good spot. Taking responsibility on offense, I think we could have played better later in the game and capitalized on some of our opportunities because the opportunities were there. But I'm ready to go watch the film, learn from it, and move on to next week."

You've only worked with TE O.J. Howard for a brief time, but building that chemistry, where do you see this offense going forward?

"(O.J. Howard) came in really last week and got to work, put his head down, and I think he's in a really good spot right now. He made some big time plays tonight or this afternoon, and I think we have a ton of guys across the field that we can utilize in every situation. Having him as an addition is going to help a lot of that."


What did you see on the interception?

"Just a lot of green field. I wasn't sure how close (Colts RB Jonathan) Taylor was to me, so I felt like if I could kind of get Matt (Ryan) to kind of open his hips and run the opposite way, I should have a lot of green grass to score. But I guess he made a tackle, and that doesn't really happen too often on D-linemen, so I've got to be better."

When you look at the fourth quarter in general, did you feel as if it was some rookie mistakes from younger players or some inconsistencies?

"We've got to learn how to close games out. We were up on those guys at the start of the second half. The fourth quarter, we've got to shut the door as a defense. When you've got someone on the run, when you've got your foot on their neck, you've got to be able to squeeze and just solidify the game. We didn't do it this evening. We've got to learn from this game so we can figure out ways to close games, because that's the only way you're going to win in the NFL is in that fourth quarter."

Can you talk about this team's run defense?

"We started off strong. The crowd did a great job of just energizing us that first half. We've got to just stay with it, and in the second half do a better job. We've got to understand that their backs against the wall. They don't want to lose coming out of the half down 20-3, so we've got to understand that when you've got someone on the run, we've got to finish them off, and we didn't do that this evening."

Did they do anything differently offensively in that fourth quarter?

"They picked up the tempo. Matt (Ryan) was making some great line-of-scrimmage checks. We were getting out of our gaps up front. We've got to be just a little bit more disciplined in that quarter. We've got to understand when the fourth quarter is on the rise like that, that's got to be our best football, and it just wasn't today."

Coach Smith said sometimes it's easier to accept a tie than a loss. Do you agree with that or is it a little more frustrating because you know you had a chance to keep the lead?

"No, I agree with Coach. It's going to give us a great opportunity to learn. The new overtime rules were put into effect this evening, so that gives us another opportunity to learn how to play in the fifth quarter there. But for us it's just all about finishing. It's something that Coach preached all training camp, and we've still got to figure out a way to do that. Week 1, we didn't get a chance to do that, but we got the Broncos coming up fast, so we've got to turn the page and get ready for those guys. And we've got to finish because in this league if you don't, the fourth quarter can turn the game open."

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