KRAVITZ: With Colts and Patriots, what they say and what they mean are two different things

Colts Coach Chuck Pagano
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Bob Kravitz

This is a read-between-the-lines kind of week. You know these kinds of weeks. They’re the weeks when we can’t get much of anything that resembles a straight answer, either from the Colts or the Patriots. This is not unusual with the Patriots, who are famous/infamous for speaking in empty platitudes, an approach that clearly works even if it makes the media’s ears bleed.

The Colts? They have some talkers, some honest guys. But we’re not going to get a lot of honesty out of them this week, not with the Patriots coming to town, not given the circumstances (yes, you can say "Deflategate") surrounding their arrival.

See all Deflategate stories here.

I mean, we ask them about the biggest game of the year, the one everybody has circled on the calendar, and while they all acknowledge that the Patriots’ game is the biggest game of the year, that’s only because the Patriots are the next team on the schedule.

Could be the Jacksonville Jaguars, for all they claim to care.

Deflategate? Not an issue. Residual Patriots anger over the eight-month-long fiasco that ended up in federal court and will end up in another federal court sometime in February? Not an issue.

Well, that’s why I’m here, why I need to write the time honored “What They Said And What They Meant’’ column.

Let’s start here, shall we?

Earlier this morning, we got Bill Belichick on a conference call, and I would personally like to thank him for not spending the time consuming an Egg McMuffin and slurping down a cup of black coffee. Of course, he said next to nothing. Granted, he wasn’t challenged very much; I think Belichick has worn the mass media down over the years, but here’s what he said when asked. "What have you told your team about this week? You know the storylines obviously."

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He responded, "There’s always a lot of things on the outside. We just try to focus on what we need to do to coach and play well on Sunday night. That’s really what our job is."

What He Meant: "My guys are so angry about Deflategate and what the Colts put us through these last eight-plus months, we’re thinking it wouldn’t be enough to beat them by 50 points. We’ve got a chip on our shoulder the size of Ayers Rock. If humiliation is in the cards, we’re going there. If we’re up 40 with a minute to go, don’t be surprised when we go with a fake field goal."

He was asked, "Did you ever address it coming into the season at all?"

"Look, I talk to our team every day and the things that I talk to the team about I think are team related," he said.

What He Meant: "Are you people stupid? Of course I talked to them about Deflategate. Those morons made me roll out a Mona Lisa Vito reference, for crying out loud. These guys read the papers and the websites. They know what our organization and our quarterback went through. Any time I can throw red meat in front of their faces, you’re darned straight I’m going to do it. It’s like when Rex Ryan talks big before we play his teams. We use that as part of our inspiration and then beat the living heck out of them. You guys remember when we went Scorched Earth after Spygate? Well, here we go again. Do I talk to our team about Deflategate? What do you think? The Colts blew the whistle on us, and now they’re going to pay on national TV. Get what I’m saying here?"

And then there’s Chuck Pagano.

He was asked if it’s human nature to want to beat the team that knocked you out of the AFC playoffs last season and some other blah-blah-blah.

"Just go to work. Just work on getting better. This team hasn’t played that team, right? Got no relevance."

Kravitz: Can we just burn the film on the Colts-Jaguars game? Please?

What He Meant: "OK, so the Colts defensive line is different and better than it was one year ago, and defensive tackle Kendall Langford said the other day he likes the way this new group matches up to the Patriots offensive line. But those other games have relevance, OK? And it’s really relevant to Pagano, who needs to show he can prepare his team to compete with the Patriots. Sure, there are different faces on both sides of the ball, but the Colts still have Pagano and Luck and the Patriots still have Belichick and Brady. Damned right it’s relevant. I’d like to keep my job beyond this year, by the way.’’

Back to Belichick, who, in all honesty, seems to have loosened up just a bit in recent times. Ask him a good question, he’s willing to answer it. Sometimes, anyway.

"I know you can’t concern yourself with the mentality of Patriots fans, but has anyone pulled you aside at the grocery store and urged you to kick Indy’s butt?" he was asked by a Boston-area media member Wednesday.

"I haven’t been to the grocery store in a couple of years," Belichick said.

"Are you hearing from friends, family, neighbors?" he was asked.

"Have I heard from my family and friends? Yeah, sure," he said.

"I think you know what I mean," the media person said.

"I mean, look, it’s the same questions every week," Belichick said. "We’re getting ready to play a game on Sunday. We’re going to do the best we can to prepare for it and be ready to go and perform well on Sunday night. That’s what we do."

What He Meant: "I order in a lot of Chinese. Now leave me the hell alone."

Finally, Belichick, who was giving no quarter, was asked, "You and the Colts had some issues following the AFC Championship Game. (Just as an aside, why can’t anybody mouth the word "Deflategate"?) Is this week’s matchup any different than usual given that backdrop?"

Belichick answered in a Belichickian way. "We’re just going to try to do our best to go out there and prepare and play well Sunday might."

What He Meant: "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!"

Toward the end of Pagano’s press briefing Wednesday, he was asked if he’s spoken to Belichick since the AFC Title Game. He smiled. "I don’t have his number."

I’ve got news for you, people: Belichick’s got Pagano’s number. Boy, does he have his number.