INDIANAPOLIS -- For head coach Chuck Pagano and his Indianapolis Colts, getting a win against the Cleveland Browns Sunday is crucial.
For the previous three seasons, the Colts began with an 0-2 record, yet they were able to post a win in the third game each year.
Indianapolis rebounded to go 11-5 in 2014 and make it all the way to the AFC championship game. Their fortunes haven't been as good the last two seasons, however, finishing with 8-8 marks and no trips to the post-season.
With that as a background, Pagano fully understands the importance of being successful against the Browns.
"We all understand the magnitude of (the game) and the urgency," the Colts coach stressed. "Cleveland needs a win and we need a win. We'll go back to work and prepare just like we did. But (we'll) try to do it better and clean up the things we need to clean up. It's a big week."
After subpar performance in the season-opening road loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis showed improvement against the Cardinals last week. Can that continue against Cleveland?
"We didn't get the job done 1/8vs. Arizona 3/8, but they responded. They responded with great effort and energy and a fast start. A lot of good things happened in that ball game. We got things to obviously clean up. And we've got to learn to finish and close it out," Pagano said.
"You've got opportunities sitting right there in front of you and you let people hang around in the National Football League, it's going to come back to haunt you. There are going to be six, seven or eight plays every game that determine the outcome of that game. You don't know when they're going to come. That's why you've got to be spot on all the time."
Indianapolis will have Jacoby Brissett starting his second straight game at quarterback, taking over from season-opening starter Scott Tolzien. Brissett did some good things in the loss to Arizona last week despite his relatively short time with the team.
"We'll just keep adding (to Brissett's play list), giving him what we can give him and not too much to where he starts thinking out there and he can't play and he can't be instinctive. Those kind of things," Pagano explained.
"He's a smart guy and he picks up things fast. It'll be good for everybody to expand 1/8the play calls 3/8, especially the situational stuff. That's not an easy task for him and coaching and calling it. You've got a rookie center and a new quarterback. The most important thing is communication up front and the protection. We'll keep working, adding as much as we can. We'll do just what we need to do and hopefully just enough to win a game."
SERIES HISTORY: 29th regular-season meeting. Series, tied 14-14. The Colts are 6-9 at home and 8-5 in away games in the series with the Browns. Indianapolis has won 10 of the previous 13 matchups, including seven of the last eight meetings between the two franchises. The Colts have won the two matchups (at Cleveland on Dec. 7, 2014, with Indianapolis posting a 25-24 win, as well as a 17-13 win at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Browns on Oct. 21, 2012). Cleveland's last win in Indianapolis occurred on Sept. 18, 2011 (27-19). The Colts were 1-5 against Cleveland at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, 4-3 at the Hoosier/RCA Dome and are 1-1 at Lucas Oil Stadium. On the road, the Colts were 5-7 at Municipal/Cleveland Stadium and are 5-0 at Cleveland Browns Stadium. The Colts and Browns have met four times in the post-season, including a 38-21 Cleveland home win on Jan. 9, 1988. The game marked the first-ever playoff appearance for the Indianapolis Colts.
Looking around the roster:
--Quarterback Andrew Luck (right shoulder) will not practice this week. Luck was already been ruled out of Sunday's game with Cleveland.
--Cornerback Vontae Davis (groin) was limited during Wednesday's workout. His availability for the Cleveland game won't be decided until the end of the week. Davis was hurt midway through pre-season and has not played since.
--Center Ryan Kelly (foot) did not practice Wednesday and is not expected to be ready to play. Rookie center Deyshawn Bond is expected to start his third straight game. Bond, an undrafted from agent from Cincinnati and an Indianapolis native, has filled in admirably.
Updated September 20, 2017