INDIANAPOLISCOLTS QUARTERBACK PEYTON MANNING
Q: Tom Brady just told us that he liked to keep an eye on you throughout the year and keep track of what you're doing. Do you do the same with him?
PM: Well, certainly we watch a lot of tape of the Patriots offense because we play so many common opponents and obviously it's a great film to study because you always want to see how a team and a defense play against the Patriots and how they try to stop Tom and their passing game. So you certainly see him a lot on film and have throughout the years. He's playing great again this year, without a doubt.
Q: Tom Brady talked about how you have both been successful in your respective systems. Being at the top of your games, do you think that either one of you could go anywhere and be successful as quarterbacks?
PM: Honestly, that's hard for me to say. Tom's definitely right – I've been in the same system. I've only had three systems my entire football career: one in high school, one in college, and one in the NFL. So like I said, it's hard for me to say. This is a system that I've known. Obviously it's grown through the years and we've tweaked things and changed things and you're always trying to learn, but this is the one I had as a rookie and have been able to stay in it my entire career.
Q: Tom Brady mentioned that he called you when he got injured and asked you to tell him about it. What conversations have you had and what advice did you offer?
PM: The thing is, I couldn't really relate to the injury that Tom had. Mine was unique. It wasn't an ACL reconstructive surgery like Tom had or Carson Palmer had. That was probably more of a similar case. Obviously there was talk about the infection and that's kind of where he did call me talking about the infection that I had and I guess there were some similarities there. I kind of told him some of the things that I was doing to treat it and kind of what I was dealing with there. But I really cannot say that my injury was similar to his. I mean, his was a major, major… months and months of recovery. Mine was not that much time of recovery.
Q: You and Marvin Harrison were a great combination for years and years. Do you see Tom Brady and Randy Moss kind of developing that? Do you see similarities between what they're doing and what you and Marvin did for so long?
PM: Well, certainly the two of them have made a lot of plays in their short time together. I know our defense will have their hands full trying to contain Moss. And then you've got [Wes] Welker and the other weapons and Tom does a great job spreading the ball around. Obviously what Moss had done before he got to New England was awfully impressive and I think everybody knew once New England signed him that the two of them were going to make for a tough combination, and that's certainly proven to be true.
Q: How much have you appreciated sharing this era, this decade, with Tom Brady? When people talk about great quarterbacks, they start with you guys.
PM: Like I said, I can't really speak [for Tom], but what Tom has done in this decade, it's hard to do it justice on a short conference call. He's been unbelievably consistent and just seems to get better year after year. He's had multiple players around him; he's had some coaching changes. Even though he said he may have had the same system, he's had some offensive coordinator changes, he's had different guys to throw it to, yet he's remained unbelievably consistent and accurate throughout. That's a great credit to him.
Q: With that in mind, he told a story about 2001 and his first career start. You probably remember the game, I think it was 44-13 Patriots, but you went up to him at the start of the game and introduced yourself. What do you remember about that, which made such an impression on Tom that he mentioned it today?
PM: You know, I try to forget that game. Thanks for brining that up. I really appreciate that. [I was] probably out there just throwing before the game like I usually do. Sometimes you get out there a little bit early and just try to get a feel for the turf, and I remember Tom being out there and I'm sure I was talking to [Drew] Bledsoe, as well. That was the first time I met Tom. Obviously he's been doing unbelievable things since.
Q: Back to your phone call with Tom, I think it took you seven games or so to ease back into it after your injury. Did you give Tom any advice about not freaking out if it doesn't happen right away or anything along those lines?
PM: No, I didn't just because like I said, I really couldn't relate to the kind of recovery he had to go through or what [Carson] Palmer did, or some of the injuries [Donovan] McNabb has had. Talk about missing an entire season, I just couldn't relate to that. Obviously I missed some training camp and preseason, but it's just a totally different type of situation he was dealing with, so I was the wrong guy to offer any tips or advice on that. Obviously it certainly hasn't seemed to be a problem for him at all the way he's been playing.
Q: Tom also mentioned that when you guys get together at celebrity events and that kind of thing, you'll talk football. I think he called you football junkies. What do you talk about?
PM: Didn't you just say it? Didn't he say football?
Q: He did, but I want maybe a little more detail. Are you breaking down plays…
PM: I mean, like I said, I maybe see Tom maybe once or twice in the offseason at some kind of charity event or whatnot. I mean, pretty normal things. I enjoy talking to other quarterbacks, guys that I see, whether its [Donovan] McNabb, or Jake Delhomme, or [Carson] Palmer. Of course Eli [Manning] and I enjoy spending time together, the time that we have together. I think quarterbacks naturally are going to talk some football. It's fun to talk football with a guy like Tom because he's so impressive when it comes to football.
Q: For so long, you and Tony Dungy were kind of the faces of the Colts franchise. What can you tell us about Jim Caldwell for those who don't know much about him?
PM: Well, people think I know Coach Caldwell so well – I mean, he's been my position coach – but I think I'm kind of getting to know him like the rest of our team is as a head coach. I think it takes time when you kind of learn something about the guy, just like he's probably learning about our different players. He was just focused on the quarterbacks for so many years. I think the team is responding to his coaching right now. As we progress through the season – here we are in the middle of the season – I think we'll continue to learn more about him and he'll learn more about us. But [he's] a very hard-working coach, very disciplined, very detail oriented, and obviously he's had his influences in his coaching career. A lot of it comes from Coach Dungy, but a lot of it comes from other coaches that Caldwell has been with in the college ranks or wherever it may be. Like I said, I think it's still early in his coaching career and I think we're all still trying to get a feel for each other.
Q: I know you will say the Patriots defense has always been tough to play against, but have you seen an upgrade in speed and quickness in this year's edition?
PM: I have. I have. I feel like they are…I mean, I don't know. I can't necessarily say that. I haven't played them in person yet, but every time you play these guys, they're always impressive to watch on film. I think people might say that [they're faster] because they've got some younger guys, but I thought they were a great defense when they had some of the guys that aren't there anymore and from what I've seen on film, they seem to be playing excellent defense right now. They've not given up very many points, very stingy against the pass, and always have been capable of creating turnovers. So they look to me like your typical Patriots defense – just very solid and we know it's going to be a tough battle against them.
Q: This is more of an Xs and Os question, but obviously the gesturing that you do pre-snap has gotten some attention. I'd assume some of that is identifying the Mike and everything else. When a quarterback does that and has to identify the Mike and communicate that, how important is that to everything and how bad can things be if you're wrong.
PM: Oh, I don't know. That's probably a little more detail than what I'm comfortable talking about, I guess. I'll say this: obviously, I think in football in general, I think it's important that everybody tries to be on the same page. Defensively, defenses want to be on the same page. If a linebacker is playing zone and the cornerbacks are playing man, obviously as an offense, you hope to take advantage of that. Offensively, if the running back thinks it's a run play and the line thinks it's a pass play, that could be a bad thing. So in football, it's always important to try to be on the same page.
Q: You've had a year in Lucas Oil Stadium. Do you still have the noise advantage that you had in the RCA Dome?
PM: I don't know. I'd probably be the wrong guy to ask that to, because they're usually pretty quiet when our offense is out there. The guys I think that probably can give you the best answer are guys like Tom or McNabb or Houston or Jacksonville's quarterbacks or some of the guys that have played in the old stadium. For me, it's just kind of hard to tell because I'm not out on the field when obviously our crowd is really getting loud. I'm sure Tom can probably give you a good answer the more he plays here.
Q: Are there any pressures on you as a quarterback or as a team associated with be undefeated at 8-0?
PM: I mean, I'm sure it's a cliché or something, but that's not really something we talk about. What we talk about is trying to win the next one and obviously we all know how important this game is, but truly it's important because it is the next one. Certainly, everybody knows how good of a team the Patriots are, and this will be an unbelievably good test for us here kind of at the halfway point of the season. Kind of our focus each week has been trying to get better each week, trying to get better. We certainly have had some injuries we've had to deal with. We haven't made any excuses along those lines and some guys have stepped up, and that's what we'll continue to have to do throughout the season, just try to step up and hopefully make the plays at the right time. This will be a great test for us on Sunday.
Q: There is a local kid who was a receiver named Brett McDermott who was in camp with you. Any recollections of him? And he said the thing that was most pleasant about working with the Colts was that guys like yourself and Reggie Wayne – he was amazed that you would take the time to work with him and make him better. Why spend time with a guy who might not even make the team?
PM: Well, I think Reggie, being an older player, he's had different receivers through the years that have been here with him. I think that's part of your job as an older player, to help young guys and obviously you hope all of them make your team, [but] they have a chance to make it somewhere else. Brett was a great kid. He was a hard-working kid. He'd do anything you asked of him. He really did a great job while he was here. From what the receivers coach said, it was really down to the wire and hopefully he has a chance to play somewhere else. So I think that's just part of being a veteran football player, helping out the younger quarterbacks and certainly it's natural for quarterbacks to try and help out the younger receivers.
Q: How great has it been to have [offensive coordinator] Tom Moore back this year?
PM: Obviously Tom has meant a lot to me over my career and there was some uncertainty there over the summer, but it was good to get all of that resolved. So it's obviously better now that there's more of a plan. For a while there, there was some uncertainty and that's obviously not what you want. So he's back in his normal role, although we did get Clyde Christensen our receivers coach, [who] really helps Tom quite a bit when it comes to game planning and calling plays and what not. So that's been a nice thing to have.
Q: Do you consider yourself lucky to really have only had one offensive coordinator in your entire career?
PM: Sure, absolutely. It's one offense and obviously there's good continuity there, so absolutely, 100 percent.
INDIANAPOLISCOLTS HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL
NOVEMBER 11, 2009
Q: How would you describe yourself as a head coach?
JC: I would probably just say I'm a guy who enjoys what he's doing. We think we work hard and we're fortunate to be part of a great organization.
Q: Is there anything that has surprised you yet about being a head coach?
JC: No, ma'am. It one of those situations where I had some experience previously, about eight years when I was at Wake Forest University, so I'm fairly familiar with the rigors of it. I would probably say the only thing that's different is the magnitude of the press coverage.
Q: Given what you know about Peyton Manning, is there a way you can sum up why he's the type of leader he is?
JC: Well you know, I would say that number one, when you look back in terms of the way he grew up, he was in a household where leadership was very, very important. And not only that, his dad certainly exuded leadership in the role he played in the National Football League. Certainly that had a lot to do with it [as well as] his mom, Olivia. But then also, he's a guy who works extremely hard at what he does. He is dedicated to making certain that he does not leave a stone unturned. It's kind of cliché, but he's a guy who works extremely hard to be as good as he possibly can. He has the respect of his teammates and all those that have ever worked with him. So I think all those things are very, very important.
Q: How come he doesn't get sacked?
JC: It's a combination of things. I think when you look at quarterback play from that standpoint, I think we have good pass protectors up front. He does a great job of kind of anticipating coverages, etcetera. And he gets the ball out of his hands quickly because he recognizes defenses and looks and he anticipates where the ball will be going. [That] would probably be the number one answer.
Q: Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison were a great combination for so long. How important is it for a team to have a great quarterback and an explosive receiver to rely on?
JC: They were absolutely the best when it came to getting a feel for one another and understanding one another. Timing and accuracy is kind of the name of the passing game. They worked together so much that they had it down. And not only that, I remember when I first arrived in 2002, we were playing a ball game where the two of them looked at one another and Peyton says to Marvin, 'You remember San Diego?' Marvin said, 'Oh yeah.' Then Marvin ran a route that he was anticipating. It ended up being a post pattern that he ran for a long gain or a touchdown. But it was almost as if those two could communicate without speaking a word. They got to know each other so well through the years.
Q: Do you see a similar thing developing between Tom Brady and Randy Moss?
JC: Well, there is no question they have great trust in one another, great faith in one another. [They are] two highly skilled athletes that are as good as they come at their position and they have created quite a tandem.
Q: What's the state of your secondary right now? It's been disrupted, but has that caused any issue?
JC: No. Whoever is up is expected to play and play well. We don't make any excuses.
Q: What has it been like replacing Bob Sanders? Describe that situation.
JC: Well, anytime that you're missing a great player, you're going to feel as if you may have some problems. But Bob has not played a whole lot for us the last couple of years and it's allowed Melvin Bullitt to step in and play a lot of football during that time period. He played a lot last year and certainly played a lot this year, so he's been able to fill in well in Bob's absence.
Q: Can you guys go undefeated?
JC: We don't even talk about it. All we're worried about doing is winning the next game.
Q: A local kid, receiver Brett McDermott was with you one summer and was one of the last cuts. Any recollections of his time there?
JC: Certainly. Brett was a guy that caught onto our system quickly and gave you everything you've got. He really had some ability and was a talented guy.
Q: Where would a guy like that need to go to make it to that next level?
JC: Well, sometimes it just takes a while to find the right location where you stick. He was a practice squad type guy that we felt had some potential, so he just has to keep plugging away. And hopefully, you get picked up again and have an opportunity to show what he can do and maybe he can hang in there next year.
Q: The Patriots have had a couple of key injuries in their backfield. How tough is their running game without Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris back there even though Laurence Maroney has played well?
JC: Well, I think all across the boards they are very, very difficult to stop. I mean still they have an offensive line that does a great job of creating holes and they can certainly run the ball with the best of them. Maroney is big and powerful and can certainly hit some seams on you. And then when you add [Kevin] Faulk to that mix as well. I just think they're very talented guys that can really move that ball down the field, so we have to pay particular attention to them because of the fact that they certainly can dominate you if they'd like to.
Q: Given that your defense does not blitz that much, how much are you emphasizing to your front four linemen that they have to get to Tom Brady this week?
JC: Well, he's a tough guy to get to. That's proven and shown week after week. He's one of those guys that gets the ball out of his hands quickly. He knows where he's going with it most often prior to the ball being snapped because he recognizes so quickly. He keeps the rhythm of the game changing. He'll play action and hold it a little while and throw the ball deep down the field to [Randy] Moss, or he gets it out of his hands really quickly to [Wes] Welker or out of the backfield to [Kevin] Faulk, or his number of other receivers that he works with. So he's tough to handle because he changes the rhythm on you, so that's going to be a real challenge.
Q: Have you been surprised at how quickly your young receivers in [Pierre] Garcon and [Austin] Collie have come along, or is that something you expected from them?
JC: Well, we knew in regard to Pierre, as we have obviously had him here with us for a couple years that we saw flashes and glimpses of things that could possibly happen if he continued to work. He did and I think you're seeing some progress. And then Austin Collie, we picked him up in the draft this year, so we had an opportunity to see him work during OTAs and mini-camps and things of that nature. He too showed that he had a gift for spatial awareness. He could catch the ball and he has a quick understanding. They are both guys that love to study and get prepared, so they are making progress. We certainly could not have expected them to play as well as they are playing, but the fact of the matter is that in this league, it's what you do over the long haul. There are a number of players that could have a fine game and you never hear from them again. Or they could put together a good half-season and you never hear from them again. Or they could play one good season and you never hear from them again. But the test is over the long haul, can they do it consistently week in and week out? So like I tell them they have to prove it every week; No matter what happened in the past, every week is going to be a different challenge. You are going to face different guys. They're going to get to know you better as the year goes on. So you have to be on top of your game and you better be improving every single week.
Q: Do you think the offense relies more on Randy Moss or Wes Welker? Is there one that might be more important to stop than the other?
JC: No. I think they both are equally dangerous to be honest with you. Obviously Welker has a few more catches, but overall, I think they're both guys that you better be concerned with because both of them can break your back. They both can score touchdowns. They both have speed and they're very, very smart and capable and they're both guys that we better know where they are at all times.