Schottenheimer believes stars will play

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#GoIrish #Aztecs #SDGulls #Raiders #THFC #RipCity
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA

The Indianapolis Colts have people throughout the NFL wondering as they prepare for the Chargers to arrive for Sunday’s game in Indy. The Colts are 13-0, three wins shy of an unbeaten regular-season record, but they have already secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Will Colts coach Tony Dungy expose his star players to the risk of an injury before the playoffs and a Super Bowl run while in pursuit of a 16-0 record? Only the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who finished 17-0 with a 14-0 regular-season record and three playoff wins, have survived a season unbeaten.

Will Colts’ quarterback Peyton Manning line up behind center? Running back Edgerrin James carry the football? Wide receiver Marvin Harrison run patterns over the middle? Defensive end Dwight Freeney speed rush Chargers quarterback Drew Brees?

Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer expects Dungy, an old friend he knows well from Dungy’s time on Schottenheimer’s staff with the Kansas City Chiefs from 1989-91, to play his stars and starters.

“My sense is he’s going to play the guys he believes gives them the best opportunity to win,” Schottenheimer said. “I believe that’s what Tony will do. I would do exactly the same thing. You can’t run around worrying about people getting hurt. If you do that, you can’t ever play.”

The Colts have clinched their third straight AFC South title and, more importantly, a bye week and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. Nothing that happens to the Colts in the win-loss column against the Chargers or in any of their other two remaining games changes that scenario.

In a similar situation last year when the Chargers had already clinched the AFC West title and a first-round home playoff game against a wild-card team, Schottenheimer rested Brees, running back LaDainian Tomlinson, tight end Antonio Gates and wide receiver Keenan McCardell in the final regular-season game at home against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chargers won the game anyway, but there is a crucial difference between the Chargers’ scenario last year and the Colts’ situation this year.

The Chargers had only one regular-season game remaining and didn’t have a bye week entering the playoffs. The stars would rest only one week.

But after a bye week, the Colts won’t play their first playoff game until Jan. 14 or 15 – a month from now. Schottenheimer believes that’s too long to rest star players for a whole game or to limit their playing time.

“In this league, you get on a run and you win two, three, four, five, six, seven or eight in a row or you lose three, four or five in a row,” Schottenheimer said. “What (Dungy) certainly doesn’t want to do is put himself in a position where his football team isn’t ready when it becomes playoff time.”

Schottenheimer pointed to the Pittsburgh Steelers as an example of the rapidly changing playoff scenarios in NFL. The Steelers improved to 8-5 when they won to end their own three-game losing streak by beating the Chicago Bears to snap the Bears’ eight-game winning streak.

“You can’t afford to lose your edge in this league,” Schottenheimer said. “Look at the Steelers. They’re a terrific football team and all of the sudden they went through a spell where they lost three in a row.”

The Chargers (8-5) had won five in a row before their 23-21 upset loss last week to the Miami Dolphins. The loss means the Bolts face the task of likely needing to win all three remaining games Sunday at Indianapolis, Dec. 24 at the Kansas City Chiefs and Dec. 31 at home against the Denver Broncos to make the playoffs.

“I said to our football team in our team meeting that we haven’t felt this way for while, and it’s very frustrating and disappointing,” Schottenheimer said. “I assured them from experience that the only way to fix this is win the next one. That’s our goal and objective.”


Jul 6, 2005
Don't look for the Colts to rest their players until maybe the last game. Besides, as much as I want to win this week, I want to beat the Colts starters not their backups.