Conference call: Colts head coach Tony Dungy


(On if facing a division opponent on the road makes it easier to try and bounce back from a loss)

It makes it easier with this type of game, that you have the player's concentration, they understand that and see how well Tennessee is playing and the fact that we're going to have to play our best game to win. We gave them a couple of days off so we could rest them and I thought their energy level was good this morning.

(On if this game is a must-win if they want to keep their consecutive AFC South division champion streak alive)

I think it's a must-win to win the division. We've been in this situation before with the shoe on the other foot where we played Tennessee or Jacksonville with a two or three game lead saying, "Hey, we can slam the door on them." I'm sure that's what Jeff [Fisher] is saying to his team. They've got a chance to slam the door on us and that's the way we're looking at it. The season won't be over if we don't get a win. Obviously, wild-card teams have won the Super Bowl two out of the last three years so it's certainly not a season-ending game, but in terms of winning the division I think that's the reality of it.

(On how Peyton Manning has dealt with not having as much success as he's had the past few years)

Well, nobody's happy being 3-3, especially the way we've gotten to 3-3. We just have to start playing better, I think everyone wants to do that and I don't sense that Peyton is any different than anyone else. [He's] just looking at ways in which he can play better and I think we're all doing that.

(On if he's settled in with his current lineup on the offensive line)

Not necessarily. That gave us the best unit for the last couple of weeks. Tony Ugoh is back practicing and feeling better so we'll see how things go as we progress on. But the young guys have done a good job. They certainly haven't been the reason we haven't been moving the ball.

(On if he thinks Keith Bulluck is playing better due to better players around him)

Well I think that always helps you. They're playing very, very solid. They're not blitzing as much as they did maybe a few years ago. They just look like they have confidence in their 11 guys out there and they have a great deal of confidence in their front to put pressure on people and that is complementing everything they do. Their linebackers and secondary are playing very, very precise. They're flying to the ball and hitting and I think that's right up Keith's alley.

(On what has been impressive about the Titans ability to protect the quarterback)

Well, number one, they haven't had many throws when they're behind in the game and that always helps you when you're running the ball as well as they are. Teams are having to play the run and when you do throw on third down, you can throw, get rid of the football. If you have to punt you know it's not that big of a deal because your defense is going to get the ball back quick for you. I think it's a combination of their line playing so well. I've been impressed with how they're playing as a unit, the fact that they're running it so well and the fact that they haven't been in many "must throw" situations.

(On the chances Bob Sanders or Joseph Addai will play Monday)

Not great, we'll see how they go in practice. My sense is we'll probably be about the same as we were last week in terms of our injured guys.

(On if they'll go back to Tony Ugoh at left tackle)

Yeah, we'll look at things during the week and see how we practice but he has been feeling very comfortable. Last week he had a very good week of practice so I think he's pretty much ready to play.

(On if Charlie Johnson returns to guard if Tony Ugoh plays)

It's really just we'll see how things go and what gives us the best unit.

(On his impressions of Chris Johnson so far)

I think he's been exceptional. I think, in Mike Heimerdigner's offense, I think he has a chance to be like Terrell Davis and have that super year and really catapult them into the upper echelon. That's what he's done because he's allowed them to run the ball but give them that home run threat even when you're running 35 times a game. Just as both of those guys did last week, they've broken some big runs and it's been very, very impressive. But he's definitely jump-started them and given them the confidence that they can score from anywhere on the field.

(On some of the characteristics he's noticed in a Jim Schwartz defense)

Well, when they're playing well, it's very physical, number one. They have a lot of guys that hit and fly around and they put a lot of pressure on you. Sometimes it's with blitzes but when the line is playing like they are now, with all these guys rotating in and getting pressure, they haven't had to blitz much. But it's very sound and it's fun to watch.

(On if he thinks Jim Schwartz can do what he wants to on defense now compared to years past because they have the right personnel)

Well I think they've done a great job of drafting and signing guys to fit what they want to do. They've got two really, really good corners for this system, guys that are tough and can tackle but can cover. They've got some really active linebackers who can run sideline to sideline and they've got about seven guys up front that can come off the ball and put pressure on the passer. I just think they have really kind of structured the defensive personnel towards what they want to do and they've done a great job of putting it together.

(On how much of their past success has helped from not panicking due to a slow start)

I think it's just the fact that we've got veterans and we understand. We've been in a situation where we've started out the year hot and didn't play as well down the stretch. Even in our Super Bowl year, we didn't play as well in December as we would like and we knew the reasons for that and were able to get some of it corrected. So we've been able to make corrections before and hopefully will be able to do the same thing again. But I think those veteran guys have been around enough so they're not going to panic and feel like we have to do a whole lot of things different.

(On how much the injury and coming back late has hurt Peyton Manning and if he thinks Manning is closer to getting back to his normal self)

He's coming around. Definitely, the time that some of our guys missed not playing together in the preseason probably hurt us coming out of the box. But I don't think we can use that as an excuse for the last three or four weeks of not being as consistent as we should be. It's just a matter of doing our jobs a little bit better.

(On if it seems like former Colts like David Thornton and Nick Harper play better against them)

No, we watch them play and it's fun to watch them play. We've seen Marcus Washington and Mike Peterson at Jacksonville just playing exceptional ball. I watch them on tape and they're still playing well. I know David and Nick and Jake [Scott] are going to be fired up to play us and they're playing great. David and Nick are playing as well as they ever played for us. Watching these first six games has been a treat. So I hope they don't play better against us then they've been playing or they're going to have outstanding games.

(On how much a Monday night game changes the national perception of a team)

I think that's important and I think that's important for a team. You're playing on a big stage, you know the rest of the league is watching and you get a chance to go out there and make a statement. I'm sure Tennessee is looking to do that, you know, "Hey, we're 6-0. Maybe people still have their doubts or whatever but [if] we go out there and make a statement, that's going to be important." We feel the same way. We haven't been as consistent as we'd like but if we can show people, "Hey, this is how the Colts really play" and go down there and win it'll be huge for us.

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