The number-one topic of conversation for the Indianapolis Colts this week has been the situation at quarterback.
Will Carson Wentz, who sustained two sprained ankles last Sunday, be able to play against the Tennessee Titans this Sunday at Nissan Stadium? If not, which one – or ones – among three possibilities would play for them?
Although the expectation is now that Wentz will play, no one has given any definitive answers. In most cases, Colts players and coaches were much clearer when asked to give their thoughts about the Titans.
Here is a roundup of some of what they had to say in recent days:
• Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, on playing an intra-division game: “Yeah, the Titans – all of our division games are always circled. They’re big games. Obviously, missing that second game [in 2020], I feel like I let my team down for sure and I just have to come out, be prepared and be ready to rock on Sunday.”
• Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, on Todd Downing’s influence on Tennessee’s offense: “(Downing has) put his own stamp on some different things in terms of the plays and how they’re ran. For the most part they’re pretty much the same group in terms of they want to run the football as we saw a couple of days ago and also the play-action pass off of that. They have not adjusted in terms of what their basic game plan is going into each and every game.”
Eberflus, on Julio Jones: “When you have one really good receiver, you can tilt the field a little bit so you can roll up to those guys. When you add the second guy there it creates an issue. It creates an issue. Typically, teams will have one good receiver and then a tight end and that creates a little bit of the same problem. When you have two receivers that create mismatches, then you have problems on both sides of the field. It’s a challenge and it’s a challenge for every defense that’s going to face this group with those two elite receivers.”
• Safety Julian Blackmon, on Titans wide receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones: “They’re right up there with all (the best) duos, if not the best that we’ve seen. We just have to make sure – you’ve got to pay attention. Tendencies, the big thing with offenses is they can’t help but have tendencies. Just knowing where guys are aligned will help you understand where you should be.”
• Cornerback Xavier Rhodes, on Julio Jones: “He separated himself from a lot of guys with his name. He’s a guy that’s big, fast, physical but also can run almost every route in the route tree. We all know about Julio (Jones). We’ve all seen Julio and his career, and the things he does, the routes he runs, the marvelous catches he’s made throughout his career. He’s one of those guys – he’s going to make some catches. He’s going to make some great catches. He’s going to make some tough catches. We’ve just got to move on to the next play and stop him as much as you can.”
• Buckner, on Derrick Henry: “We need hats on the ball, especially against a guy like him.”
• Linebacker Darius Leonard, on Derrick Henry: “He’s got great vision and their offensive scheme puts him in position to have mismatches on the outside. You see a lot of times they run the Tampa and then the only thing he’s doing is jump cutting, stiff arming the cornerbacks on the outside. So that’s why we have to be great with our crack replace and linebackers scraping over the top, and making sure that we have seven-plus to the ball. We know who we are, we know who he is. It’s a thing that you say, you respect him but don’t be scared of him and that’s the thing you all have to understand.”
• Eberflus, on dealing with Derrick Henry: “As you look at all the defenses and defensive coordinators across the league, everybody will say the same thing. Limit the explosive runs, get him to stop his feet in the hole, gang tackle. Everybody will say the same thing. Try to get him to go backwards or sideways in the run game. Easier said than done and everybody will say that.”
• Tight end Jack Doyle, on trying to avoid a 0-3 start: “Every week is urgent. Then you add an urgency of a division game, that adds an urgency to it. Then, you know, wanting to get in the win column in this season to start that trend and get that ball rolling. You don’t press though at the same time. You dig deeper into the process that you know works and that’s getting the practice and getting the reps and that’s getting better every single day and the results and things like that will fall into place.”
• Coach Frank Reich, on facing the Titans: “Coach (Mike) Vrabel does a very good job, a very well-coached team, good players. This has been a good matchup, right? Us against the Titans has been a good matchup since the time we’ve been here so we’re looking forward to it. We have a lot of respect for them, but we know what we have to do.”