Caldwell Ready to Lead Colts Through Training Camp
TERRE HAUTE – This might not be Jim Caldwell's first NFL training camp, but it is his first as a head coach.
Having served as an assistant with the team since 2002, most players are already familiar with Caldwell's coaching style and personality. But this year's training camp will be the first time Caldwell has played the part of the team's leading man.
An assistant to former Colts head coach Tony Dungy, Caldwell is hoping to pick up where his mentor left off over the next three weeks.
"Tony built a great foundation here," Caldwell said Sunday. "We're trying to take it a little bit higher."
With a team that has won 10 or more games over the past seven seasons, it will not necessarily be easy to do. Which is why Caldwell has been working on carrying on the team's winning tradition and philosophy since the day he was hired in mid-January.
According to his players, Caldwell has done just that.
"When he first took over, you knew (it was his team)," Colts center Jeff Saturday said. "He is very assertive in his role. He understands what it takes to win in this league and he's been around us, so he has already earned the respect."
Compared to the mild-mannered Dungy, Caldwell can be pretty vocal, Saturday said. If a player makes a mistake, Caldwell will call him out.
"He'll say things that need to be said in a different way…I think Jim put his stamp on (the team) from day one, and I don't think it'll be any different as we enter camp."
Saturday is not the only one who has been impressed with the Colts' first-year head coach.
"He made his business by kind of separating himself (from Dungy), being his own man," Colts linebacker Gary Brackett said. "Coach Dungy is going to go down as one of the best coaches ever, but obviously with (Caldwell) being at the helm he just wants to do things his own way, by communicating with us, doing things a little different in the meeting room, setting a different type of schedule. He's definitely put his mark on the team."
On Sunday, Caldwell told reporters not to expect a big difference between a Tony Dungy practice and one of his practices. Rather, Caldwell's goal is to maintain.
"I don't think you will see much difference at all in terms of how we do things…obviously, this team belongs to everybody. It's not a Jim Caldwell team. This team belongs to the guys that have put in a lot of sweat and blood and tears in this program," Caldwell said.
One player who knows Caldwell as well as anybody is Peyton Manning, who worked under the coach's direct tutelage when Caldwell was the team's quarterbacks coach. Manning said this is "absolutely" Caldwell's team, although it might be hard to notice until the team goes through training camp.
"I think everybody is trying to get to know him as a head coach, and I'm no different," he said. "I certainly know him as my quarterbacks coach, but when he's in a new role as a head coach there is always a transition there and some things are new. I think we'll get to know more of his leadership style throughout training camp for the next three weeks and then as the season unfolds."
As with any new head coach or player, comparisons will be made to the old one. But Caldwell does not mind the media comparing him to Dungy on a daily basis. In fact, he said the future Hall-of-Fame coach deserves the attention.
Caldwell told reporters a story of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and legendary boxer Muhammad Ali sitting down to do an autograph signing.
According to Caldwell, Ali had a long line of people waiting to get his signature while Paterno sat next to him and only had a few fans gathered in front of him.
At one point, Paterno turned to the boxer and asked why he had so many more people in line than he did.
Ali looked over and told Paterno, "Because you haven't 'whupped' anybody yet."
"So I haven't 'whupped' anybody yet," Caldwell explained. "When the time comes and we get this team doing the things we certainly anticipate they can do, I think you will see things even out a bit."
Until then, Caldwell will continue to work towards building off of what Dungy started and taking the Colts to the next level.
"He has big shoes to fill," Brackett said. "But I think he's on the right path."