Mood As Expected As Colts Return to Practice, Manning Says
INDIANAPOLIS – Three days later, Peyton Manning said without question the feeling is different.
And as Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell sees it, that's a good thing.
Manning, in his 13th season as the Colts' starting quarterback, said while it's relatively unusual for the Colts to be .500 after four games, he said the situation has created a distinct, different mood around the Indianapolis locker room.
And that mood certainly isn't happy.
"I think guys are disappointed, frustrated," Manning said Wednesday as the Colts (2-2) prepared to play the Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis Sunday at 1 p.m.
"I think those are all normal reactions, and I think those can be healthy reactions and moods. I think, 'Determined' is the main thing – to have a really good week of practice this week.
"That's where it has to start."
The Colts lost at Houston in the regular-season opener, 34-24. They then won back-to-back games by double digits – at home against the New York Giants and at Denver – to move into a tie for first-place in the AFC South.
On Sunday, they lost at Jacksonville, 31-28, on a 59-yard, last-play field goal.
The Colts started the season 5-0 or better in 2003, 2005-07 and 2009, with the last time they were 2-2 coming in 2008. The last time before that was 2001.
Caldwell said he, too, sensed the emotions. He also said he didn't mind it at all.
"Certainly – as much as we've won around here, it's highly unusual for us," Caldwell said. "I don't think it (the emotion) is a bad thing. I would feel a little bit more concerned if it was the other way around. It's something our guys take to heart – how they perform, their record, etc."
The Colts, who have won 12 or more games in an NFL-record seven consecutive seasons, are 0-2 in the AFC South for the first time since the 2002 inception of the division. They also are one of 21 teams with .500 or records or worse.
Only 11 NFL teams are above .500 after four weeks, with six of those teams – Kansas City, New England (3-1), the New York Jets (3-1), Pittsburgh (3-1), Baltimore (3-1) and Houston (3-1) – in the AFC.
"I would certainly say it's been fairly even for a long time," Caldwell said of the NFL. "In terms of parity, I think it always has been the case. This year, obviously at this point in time it's a bit unusual in that regard, but I just think week in and week out there are so many good teams and there's a very small difference, a very slight difference between each club."
Manning said while Kansas City being one of the teams above .500 may surprise some observers considering their six victories over the past two seasons, the reality is the Chiefs have rebuilt their roster and their organization and have played solidly this season.
The Colts and Chiefs last played in 2007, and since then, Scott Pioli has taken over as general manager, with Todd Haley the head coach and Matt Cassel – the starter in New England much of the 2008 season – now the starting quarterback.
"They have a lot of new guys," Manning said. "They have some rookies playing, they've got some guys that are in their second and third years, but they are all playing well. They are all talented guys. They've had some high picks in the draft the past few years, and they've used them well and drafted good players. It's kind of what you'd expect.
"They're playing well. Obviously, they have a lot of momentum coming off a bye week, which is never easy for the opponent. They've had two weeks to prepare. It is going to be a challenge."
Manning on Wednesday also addressed:
*Preparation. Manning said while it's fine that the Colts are disappointed, more imant is practicing well enough to improve upon the recent results. "We're playing a good football team that's playing well," he said. "They don't care what our record is, and they don't care that we've lost two division games. It's really about what we do. I think it's important to have a good week of practice this week. We have some injuries that we're dealing with like all teams are, and once again, you get no sympathy there. We need to carry some of that frustration onto the practice field and be a little sharper in the way we practice."
*Offensive efficiency. While the Colts' offense has played at a high level this season – they're third in the NFL in scoring and Manning has thrown 11 touchdown passes with one interception – Manning said there are still improvements to be made. While the offense was not called for a penalty Sunday, Manning was intercepted for the first time – a pass that bounced from the hands of rookie tight end Brody Eldridge and a lost fumble by wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Each turnover came inside the Jaguars 10. "Some things are going to be the same year in and year out," he said. "You have to execute on offense, and you have to eliminate penalties. We had no penalties against Jacksonville, which was a step in the right direction, but we had two turnovers. Those are part of football, and you have to be able to overcome them, but you'd like for them not to happen at all."