Monday, December 30, 2013
Players-only meeting helped turn season
By Mike Wells
INDIANAPOLIS -- The exact moment it happened is on the cloudy side.
It might have been after the 30-point loss to the St. Louis Rams. It might have been after the Arizona Cardinals or Cincinnati Bengals game.
It really doesn't matter when it happened.
The meeting had to be done.
The Indianapolis Colts weren't going anywhere. They had been blown out by the Rams and Cardinals, two teams that started their vacation Sunday evening, so a players' only meeting was called.
No filter. No holding anything back. No worrying about hurting anybody feelings.
Players-only meetings aren't anything new. Teams have been having them for years.
"It was really just a gut-check meeting," linebacker Robert Mathis said. "One of those games where we kind of got blown out of the water. It's a distant memory. But it was a guys meeting, men talking and holding each other accountable. And we responded quite nicely."
You just never know how players-only meetings will turn out. Sometimes players have one just to say they had one when nothing really gets accomplished. The Colts couldn't have that happen. They were treading water with the possibility of going under. They were likely going to win the AFC South because it's the worse division in football, but there was little optimism about them winning a game in the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
"It was a lot of guys, the guys that are older and that are in the position of being a leader, speak up," Mathis said. "Anybody that wanted to say anything, the floor was open. And so that's what it was and we got good results from it."
This meeting turned to be a positive for the Colts. They went into December with a 7-4 record and closed out the regular season by going 4-1.
The Colts head into Sunday's wild card match up against the Kansas City Chiefs on a three-game winning streak.
Here's a look at several key stats during the winning streak:
- They outscored their opponents 78-20
- Forced eight turnovers
- Recorded 11 sacks
- Tied for their second high scoring quarter of the season when they scored 17 points in the first quarter against Jacksonville
"It's one of those meetings that takes place and we're fortunate to have guys like Robert, Reggie (Wayne) and Cory (Redding) and Adam (Vinatieri) and Antoine (Bethea), a bunch of guys that love winning, love competing and are willing to grab a group of guys and say, 'Okay, this is what we have to do from here on out, win the games we're supposed to win and give ourselves a chance to get in the tournament,'" Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "The expectations are what they are. Players hold each other to a high standard. We as coaches hold ourselves and players to a high standard. Accountability comes from the players, from the locker room. That's when you really have something special."