Indianapolis Colts' Andrew Luck, center, is tackled by Carolina Panthers' Luke Kuechly, right, and Kurt Coleman, left, in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
Bob Leverone
November 05, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Rob Chudzinski is simplifying this week's game plan.

The Colts' new offensive coordinator expects a better start, wants more consistency and fewer mistakes. He just has to make it work.

''I've always been aggressive offensively, stressing the balance between the pass and run game, try to put guys in positions to be successful,'' he said. ''That's the biggest thing in this league is it's a personnel-driven league and finding what the guys do the best and trying to put them in positions where they can succeed.''

Finding success hasn't been easy this season.

Four times, Indy (3-5) has been held scoreless in the first half. It's faced double-digit deficits in all but two games - the two Andrew Luck missed with an injured right shoulder.

Despite missing those games, Luck still leads the NFL with 12 interceptions, and the Colts haven't really taken advantage of the potential mismatches posed by tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, who have combined for 38 catches, 333 yards and three touchdowns.

The offensive line has already allowed 14 sacks, and now Luck is dealing with an ankle injury. Fortunately, for the Colts, Luck took all the usual snaps in practice Thursday after being limited Wednesday.

With so much going wrong, coach Chuck Pagano changed course and fired Pep Hamilton as offensive coordinator, installing his longtime friend as the play caller.

''It wasn't a knee-jerk reaction,'' Pagano said after making the change following Monday night's 29-26 overtime loss at Carolina. ''But I think when you keep seeing the same thing over and over and over again through the course of time, we needed a change.''

Chudzinski's resume is full of success stories.

He won two national championships as a player at Miami. He served as offensive coordinator when Miami won the 2001 national championship and the next year when it finished national runner-up. He coached in San Diego when it made the playoffs in 2006 and 2009, and called plays for Carolina in 2011 and 2012, Cam Newton's first two NFL seasons.

But after one bad season as Cleveland's head coach and 1 1/2 seasons working behind the scenes in Indy, Chudzinski is suddenly back in the spotlight.

''Well, it's a challenge. There's no doubt about it, but that's the business that we're in,'' he said. ''There are still some things in my mind how I call and have called things in the past, so that's just a process of working through it.''

The good news is that he already knows who and what he's dealing with.

''He's kind of our secondary voice to listen to as to how to run routes, how to do things, so it's not something where Chud and I are getting acquainted,'' Fleener said. ''We've been working together for some time now.''

He's also walking into a major challenge.

Indy will try to snap its first three-game losing streak under Pagano against Peyton Manning and unbeaten Denver (7-0) on Sunday.

The bigger problem is Denver's defense, which is ranked No. 1 in almost of the major categories.

''Yeah, my wife mentioned to me that I got these rings under my eyes that are a little bit bigger than they used to be,'' Chudzinski said with a laugh. ''I love the challenge of it and looking forward to this weekend.''

What's going to change?

Nobody's dropping hints, but Colts fans are hoping Chudzinski's experience as a college tight end might lead to more use of Fleener and Allen. And that a quicker, shorter passing game reduces the number of penalties and turnovers that have plagued the offense.

All Chudzinski really wants is to find a formula that works.

''The encouraging thing that I see is there are points and times where we're firing on all cylinders,'' he said. ''That's an indicator to me that that can happen more often and we can do that more often.''

NOTES: Receivers Phillip Dorsett (ankle) and T.Y. Hilton (foot) and linebacker Nate Irving (knee) did not practice Thursday. ... Four veterans who were given an extra day of rest Wednesday - cornerback Vontae Davis, linebackers D'Qwell Jackson and Robert Mathis and receiver Andre Johnson - were full participants Thursday along with Luck. Cornerback Darius Butler (foot) and safety Winston Guy (shoulder) also were full-go. ... Center Khaled Holmes, who missed Monday's game with a neck injury, was a limited participant Thursday.


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