Colts All-Pro defensive end Dwight Freeney spoke with the Tampa Bay media Wednesday in an afternoon conference call, and gave his thought on the match-up with the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football.
Bucs left tackle Donald Penn will be the man in the spotlight given the tough task of keeping Josh Freeman upright against the former Syracuse standout. The duo have met once before, a 33-14 loss at Indianapolis in 2007. Freeney came away impressed.
“I think it was in ’07 I played against him,” Freeney said. “He is a guy [who] has good feet. He has great athletic ability for a guy as a defensive lineman. It is going to definitely be a challenge for me. Like I said he has good feet so he can keep up and counter very well. It is going to be a challenge for me to make sure that I try to counter his counter if that makes any sense.”
The Colts have struggled with their veteran leader Peyton Manning sidelined while recovering from neck surgery. Starting the season off winless is no fun according to the Colt’s defensive leader.
“It is obviously not a great mood,” Freeney said. “No team I think that is 0-3 is in a great mood. It is not as bad as people may think it is. Based on the fact that we kind of have confidence in what we do. We have confidence that we can get some things done and still win these games. All it takes is a few players here and there and all of a sudden now tide has changed—now it’s a winning game. I think obviously it’s not the greatest mood in the world, but it could be a lot worse.”
Freney was just a second-year player in 2003 when the Colt’s made the miracle comeback to beat the Buccaneers 38-35 on Monday Night Football. Freeney says it is still fresh his mind.
“That was one of the games I always will remember just based on the fact that everybody in the building thought we were going to lose that game,” Freeney said. “Everyone thought it. I was getting phone calls [and] text messages [saying] sorry about the loss you guys played your heart and then we ended up winning the game. That kind of became a staple for us as an organization [and] as a team that we never say quit [and] never say die. We continue to fight no matter what the score is because you don’t know what is going to happen. Anything can happen and that was obviously an example of that.”
While watching the Buccaneers on film Freeney has come away impressed with what he has seen so far.
“They are definitely a team to be reckoned with and not to take lightly,” Freeney said. “We definitely see that, but I do understand how kind of this league is. It is like a rookie that has a good game [or] has a good year. Can you make it two years? That is why you rarely see—sometimes you rarely see a rookie make the pro bowl in his first year because you don’t know is this player really legit or was it just a lucky year or what have you--unless he just dominated. I could definitely see how they can be underappreciated, but I know they are definitely respected though.”
Since coming into the NFL out of Syracuse in 2002 there was never a time when Freeney hasn’t seen No. 18 leading the Indy offense until this season. Third-year quarterback Curtis Painter will get his first NFL start Monday and Freeney says the rest of the Colts will put their faith in whoever lines up under center.
“I have confidence in any guy you have back there and it doesn’t matter—people have this big misconception of quarterbacks [and] maybe I am a little biased but whatever,” Freeny said. “It is just basically like this: quarterbacks [and] their success is based more on more positions doing what they need to do correctly. The offensive line has to block for him. The receivers have to run good routes [and] the play calling. There are just so many things that are important so it’s not all their fault when plays don’t work and it’s not all them when it does work. It is a collective thing and it is a team thing.”
“For Painter being back there or whoever is back there it is a team deal. So that offensive line has to give him time. Those receivers are going to have to run those great routes so Painter can get him the ball and that’s just kind of what football is at the quarterback position.
“I think a lot of times what people tend to [be] doing is giving the quarterback all the credit in the world and not giving any other offensive position any credit so all of a sudden it seems as if it’s just the quarterback and it’s not the case. I understand it because the quarterback is the one who has the ball in his hands so therefore the spotlight is on him.
“So therefore it is easy to say that, but that receiver who makes that great route and that offensive line who gave him time to throw the ball is also very important. So hopefully we can get out there this week and whoever is going to be playing Collins or Painter or whoever—we do what we need to do offensively as a collective unit to have success.”