A Day Later, Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell Says Interior Defense OK Against Detroit
INDIANAPOLIS – A day later, Jim Caldwell said he was glad he didn't judge immediately.
Because although Caldwell – in his first year as the Colts' head coach – said one concern in the immediate aftermath of a preseason loss to Detroit Saturday was how the Colts controlled the line of scrimmage defensively, he said Sunday upon reviewing game tape he saw the area differently.
No, he said, the Colts weren't great on the interior.
But they weren't terrible, either.
"It's amazing when you look at the film you see something a little different than you would have imagined," Caldwell said Sunday afternoon, a day after the Colts lost the third game of the 2009 preseason, 18-17, to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich.
"We weren't perfect up front, but the defensive interior – some of the big guys – were able to do pretty well. We just had a few mishaps in there and a few missed tackles at the next level.
"That's where they got a lot of their big gains."
The Colts, who will visit the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday in the 2009 preseason finale, allowed the Lions 151 yards rushing on 35 carries, with 103 of the yards coming on 22 first-half carries for a 4.7 yards-a-carry average as Detroit took a 10-7 halftime lead.
"It was more a fundamental tackling issue than it was anything from schematic standpoint," Caldwell said, adding that he would have thought differently the previous day.
"I would not have thought that," Caldwell said. "When you have an opunity to look at the film, you often see something different. That's why I like to be real measured in what I say, because a lot of times you find out on film it's a bit different. We had a lot of positive things that occurred."
Among those, Caldwell said:
• A fourth-quarter goal-line stand on which safety Jamie Silva and linebacker Mike Tauiliili stopped Lions fullback Jerome Felton on 3rd- and 4th-and-1.
• Touchdown drives of 80 and 86 yards on the first possessions of the first and second halves. "The first two drives of each half were very efficient," Caldwell said.
• The Lions scoring just 10 first-half points despite 246 total yards. "It looks bad in terms of the total yardage," Caldwell said. "They didn't break. They bent, but didn't let them in the end zone an inordinate amount of times."
Caldwell also noted the play of wide receivers Austin Collie (two receptions, 20 yards) and Pierre Garcon (three receptions, 82 yards), as well as rookie running back Donald Brown (five carries, 16 yards, one touchdown) and rookie quarterback Curtis Painter (9-14, 145 yards, one interception).
"There were some good performances in there," Caldwell said. "There are a lot of things we can build upon. We just weren't quite as sharp and couldn't get off the field on third down, which was key."
The Colts allowed the Lions to convert 9 of 15 third-down opportunities, including 6 of 8 in the first half. Caldwell said that area is a concern, and said the Colts being without starters such as middle linebacker Gary Brackett, defensive tackle Ed Johnson, defensive end Robert Mathis, safety Bob Sanders and cornerback Kelvin Hayden shouldn't lead to such a performance.
"We have to be able to find a way to get off the field," Caldwell said. "I think we will do that. Sometimes, progress doesn't come overnight. We have to continue to work at it and continue to try to stress those situations and get better. That will happen.
"We look at it this way: anybody we put out there on the field, there is a certain standard that we anticipate and expect. We didn't get that consistently. There could be situations like this during the course of the year, where we have maybe not the number we have right now but some starters out. Whoever steps in to take their place we anticipate and expect them to play just as well as the starters would have played."
Caldwell said with one preseason game remaining, a game in which the Colts' starters historically have played sparingly, "the hay is a long way from being in the barn.
"We still feel like we have more room to grow and develop and continue to get better," Caldwell said. "That's a weekly thing that happens throughout the season. We're still developing. We're still trying to get better and we're still working."
The Colts must make five roster moves early this week, then must trim the roster to 53 players following Thursday's game against Cincinnati.
"A lot of guys have done very, very well, and it's going to be very difficult," Caldwell said. "It's not a happy time on that day when you make those cuts, but that's kind of the way it is. It's the nature of the business, but it doesn't make it comfortable."