In the long, strange history of motivational techniques in professional sports, the one Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano pulled this week has to rank near the top.
In a radio interview with ESPN’s “Mike & Mike in the Morning,” Pagano intimated to the shows’ hosts that he had the coaching staff put mouse traps in the locker of each player. The message? Don’t fall into the trap against Jacksonville. Coming off what is considered a huge upset win against the 49ers in San Francisco, the Colts head to Jacksonville to face a winless Jaguars team that ranks at or near the bottom in just about every relevant offensive and defensive category.
When asked by co-host Mike Greenberg if the traps were sprung or unsprung, Pagano laughed and let them know the traps weren’t dangerous (they were, in fact, fake), explaining:
“We have enough injuries already.”
You have to appreciate to creativity, but it also serves as a great reminder that no matter what happened the previous week, you have to forget about it and move on to the current challenge. Failing to prepare and focus each week like its the Super Bowl can land a team in exactly the kind of situation Coach Pagano wants his team to avoid.
The Colts recent rash of injuries certainly won’t make things easier against the Jaguars. They’ve alrady lost Vick Ballard, Donald Thomas, and Dwayne Allen for the season. It has been announced also that LaRon Landry will miss his second consecutive game, and Ahmad Bradshaw has now been ruled out with an undisclosed neck inury he apparently suffered after his big game against the 49ers last Sunday.
That should open up a huge opportunity for Trent Richardson to make a big impact. He will be the primary back against a defense that is allowing 167.7 yards per game against the run. You couldn’t ask for a better situation for a young man still trying to learn the offense of his new team. This could be the huge confidence boost he needs to get on track for the remainder of the season after a so-so outing last week in San Francisco (in all fairness, it was just his third day on the team).
If you look at the numbers alone, Jacksonville does currently have the ninth-best pass defense by yardage, giving up just 203 yards per. But don’t be fooled – they aren’t good in that area either. In their first two games, they faced Kansas City and Oakland, two teams not known for their air superiority. In their last game against Seattle, they let Russell Wilson go drop 202 yarda and 4 TDs on them – and that was just through 3 1/2 quarters. You think Andrew Luck (by arm AND legs), Reggie Wayne, Coby Fleener, and T.Y. Hilton can’t put up some numbers? Just wait and see.
The only real big “but” there is to the whole thing is Indy’s long-time nemesis – Maurice Jones-Drew. For his career, he has made a habit out of embarassing the Colts defense with his uncanny ability to break through tackles and drag extra defenders. It seems that MJD could fall down and get 100 yards and two TDs against the Colts. But things could be different – in a good way – this year. For the first three games, MJD is averaging just 2.6 yards per carry, though they have played against two of the better defenses in the NFL this year in KC and Seattle. But against Oakland, who ranks even worse against the run that the Colts do, he only managed to get 27 yards on 10 carries.
Bottom line: There is a huge opportunity here for the Colts to put up the kind of offensive numbers we haven’t seen since the Peyton Manning days. All it’s going to take is the proper execution. And to avoid that big fake mousetrap.
Colts win big, 35-7.
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