*COLTS HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL *
(what went into your decision to play your starters Thursday night?) "The big thing is for us right now the 14th game is something that's extremely important to us in terms of just going out and playing and playing hard like we've done. We've been in a good rhythm and there's no reason to break it at this point. So we took a look at where we are and our guys are feeling good and eager to play so we're going to turn it loose."
(you haven't said what you'll do with the final two games, right?) "No, we're going to do it just simply like we've done throughout the year thus far, and that's just concentrate on this week and often times the next week has its own set of issues so we'll deal with those later."
(if you put together a perfect season in your first year, that's immortality) "I don't think that way. It's not an issue for me in terms of … It's a team issue. It's what's best for us in terms of getting us ready to play well down the line. Obviously the most important games are the playoff games and so once you reach it, and obviously we're fortunate enough to be there, so we've just got to keep trying to get better and stay sharp and keep playing hard."
(what made the first game with the Jaguars so tough?) "It's because obviously they're a real talented bunch. They just play so hard. It's a great rivalry. They're tough, they're smart, they're well-coached and they have a lot of weapons. They run the ball extremely well. They have a quarterback that adds an extra dimension to the game because of the fact that he's such a dangerous guy when he tucks the ball away and runs, and obviously they know us well. They've had an extensive experience with us and Coach Del Rio always has his team ready to go."
(do you think the Jaguars have changed quite a bit from that game to now?) "Looking at the film they have a few tweaks here and there and certainly from a schematic standpoint they're doing a lot of the same things. I think they've gone through I think what we all go through in terms of the season as we make little adjustments here and there, but for the most part it's the same, tough, hard-nosed team."
(you've replaced a legendary coach in Tony Dungy and now you're 13-0. How did you pull that off?) "It's really not about me, to be honest with you. This is a players' game. We have to give some guidance and direction but those guys that take the field for us make a huge difference. And the other thing is I'm really just kind of building upon what Tony had established here. I've been here for seven years. It was fairly easy for me to have a good understanding of what worked well, and the things that I thought we needed to adjust and change we changed. And thank goodness that things have worked out well for us."
(you say it's a players' game but things don't go well the coach always gets the flack) "And it goes with the territory, right?"
(so you deserve some credit that it has gone well) "Thank you. And the other thing too, I must admit we have an owner that doesn't do anything but give us all the resources it takes to win and we have a great front office and Bill Polian whose been around for a long time doing the same thing in terms of just establishing excellence in that area with Chris, his son, and also Tom Telesco. They do a great job and we have a great coaching staff as well - Howard Mudd, Tom Moore, Larry Coyer, a lot of these guys have been around, John Teerlinck. So our staff didn't have to go through any sort of upheaval, and then we have an outstanding group of core veteran players that have really set a great example for our young guys and made things operate more smoothly."
(can you give us some examples of some things you changed?) "The things that we changed, obviously we have a change in terms of our defense. We made some adjustments, a new coordinator, and he came in and added a bit more aggressiveness in terms of just studying and those kinds of things to our defense. We get the basic format for it; the basic philosophy stayed somewhat the same. And then we adjusted some things in terms of our kicking game as well, and so those things we tweaked a little bit and we think they've helped us."
(do you blitz more now than you used to?) "All the things we do are things that are within our package and it just depends on the team. There are some teams we obviously choose not to be as aggressive with and there are others that we do, and then there are some teams that are better to kind of sit back and play your techniques and keep the ball in front of you."
(what did you tweak on special teams?) "We just kind of changed up the overall schemes involved with it just in terms of what we've done from coverage teams and return teams and things of that nature."
(Rick Gosselin said the key to special teams is the head coach and the players he makes active for that group. Did you put a little more emphasis on that?) "We really haven't done anything any differently in terms of our practice routine than we've done here previously, so there really hasn't been that much of a change in that regard. Philosophically we've done it the same."
(Bill Polian has been public about him wanting to rest the players. Have you talked to him about that?) "When you hear from one of us you hear from all of us. There hasn't been a situation yet where we've been fragmented in those beliefs. So where we are today and how we're approaching this game is something we had a discussion on it and all of us feel the same way."
(so Polian signed off on not resting guys for this game?) "Anytime that we have a major decision, we gather all the information and then at that point in time obviously I make the final decision."
(in the past years you have rested players and in one year you won the Super Bowl, so maybe you should change it up this year) "We've gotten that advice from quite a few people, but the thing that I'm looking at right now is I'm only concerned about this game coming up against a real tough team here on Thursday night, and it's going to be here before I know it. So I'll worry about those other things a little bit later on down the line."
(does Maurice Jones-Drew look like the same back he did earlier this year? His numbers are down the last four weeks) "I'll tell you what, he looks the same to me. He's just as dangerous, just as explosive. He's tough, he's determined. For us obviously he can be a real tough individual to handle as you can see from when we've played them previously. He's done a tremendous job. I can still remember down there I think a couple years ago he ran for an ungodly amount of yards. He's still quite explosive."
INDIANAPOLISCOLTS QB PEYTON MANNING
(on how the Colts continue to have so many wins, year after year, even with a new head coach) "Well a lot of guys have just done an excellent job this year. Like you said, we have a lot of new players playing this year, in probably one of the biggest years in transition for our team with the new head coach (Jim Caldwell) and losing some veterans that have been outstanding for us. There's a lot of unknown. You never know how some of the young guys are going to react. Some guys look good in practice and you're never quite sure how they're going to perform in games. We had a number of young players, a couple of rookie corners and young receivers and, obviously, our running backs have really stepped up and done a nice job. And the veteran players that have been here for a number of years have obviously shown good veteran leadership."
(on if he was worried at the start of the year because of all the transition) "Sure, I mean, I don't know if 'worried' is the word but there's always some questions that cannot be answered up until you play. I've seen guys in the past that look great in practice and look great in training camp and you say, 'This guy's going to be great.' Then all of a sudden when the lights come on, they just don't seem to respond. They have kind of a wide-eyed look in them. But our young players have a calm look about them in games. The game is not too big for them. They've worked hard each week and continued to try to learn and understand and have improved each week and I'm real proud of them for that."
(on if he's going all-out to win this game, even though they've clinched everything they can clinch for the playoffs) "Well that is our plan. It's the same plan that we have every single week – to prepare as hard as we can. This week is always a challenge from a preparation standpoint, being a short week, and we have to travel as well, so everything's crammed together. But that's all we're doing. It's business as usual. We're playing tough team and playing a tough team on the road."
(on if he ever thinks about what the significance going 19-0 would be for his career) "I have not thought about it. I think one thing our team has done this year is truly we have taken it one game at a time. That's kind of been Coach Caldwell's motto from the beginning and the team has bought into that approach. I think why we've won some of our close games this year is because all we focused on is that particular game that week. That's been the approach every week so far and that's certainly going to be the approach this week against Jacksonville."
(on if they win this week, if he will lobby to play the last two games of the year) "Like I said, I always want to be in there playing and that's what I expect to be doing. Just because there's a lot of speculation and analysis on what we're supposed to do or what the Saints are supposed to do – all we know to do is do what we've been doing every single week and to go out there and play as hard as we can and try to execute."
(on if this is a different approach than past years when the Colts have rested players after clinching) "Like I said, I can't really speak for what's happened in the past. We got here today, Coach Caldwell and the offensive coaches laid out the offensive game plan. It's a cramped week. You're kind of combining a Wednesday and a Thursday practice into today – into one day – and we just played two days ago. So it's a challenge to get ready mentally. It's a challenge to get rested physically. And that's really all we've focused on so far in this short week."
(on how tough the opener vs. the Jaguars was) "I thought Jacksonville made some plays, certainly. I thought we did some things to hurt ourselves. They obviously caused some turnovers. Those are some plays that you'd like to avoid. But we had a couple turnovers down there in the scoring position which is always disappointing because you're on the verge of scoring and all of a sudden you come away with zero points. But they made some plays. They've got an excellent defense and in watching the film, it's been a long time since we played them but they've made a lot of plays since then. They've battled the injury bug like all teams have and they've got some different guys playing in there. But they've always played hard and they've always been real sound in what they've done."
(on if they've changed much since that week one meeting) "It's hard to say because in game one, you probably don't get to see the entire plan. So anytime you go from playing a new defensive coordinator in week one, you probably don't get to know everything about him. So it's still going to be a lot of newness, for us, and a lot of film to study in a short week and we just got to get ready for what we see on film and even to adjust to something new."
(on the Jaguars defense playing more 3-4 in the opener than they are now) "They've played that in many games as well. They certainly did play some of that versus us in the first game. But they have played that throughout the season. They have different alignments that they use and different personnel packages, play all the different coverages and blitzes and just give you the whole scheme of defenses that you have to get ready for."
(on if he thinks about how long he'd like to play) "I've not thought about that, especially not here, not down the home stretch of the season. But you certainly do get focused on one week at a time – one year at a time, certainly. I don't take for granted the opportunity to still be playing football and truly take it one week at a time."
(on Tony Dungy talking about Peyton wanting to win his second Super Bowl before Eli Manning wins his second) "I've never said that. Obviously our goal is like every team's this year – is to try to play our best football late in the season and give yourself a chance to win it in the end. My goals are the same as the team goals, every week to keep getting better and winning."
(on if a successful regular season adds pressure to winning the Super Bowl) "I really haven't thought about that. We haven't talked about anything except the next opponent, we truly have not. So we have an opportunity in this short week to try to work on some things, to try to get better – the opportunity to go out and play an excellent Jacksonville team, a team who's right in the hunt of the playoffs and always plays well at home. That's really all I've thought about."
(on if Colts senior offensive coordinator Tom Moore still does the things he's always done) "Well, Tom still calls the plays. Clyde Christensen, our receivers coach, gives a lot of input for our offense – third down and different ideas. Clyde has had a lot of helpful input in our offensive success."
(on Jaguars playing the Colts tough but the Colts still being 7-2 against them in the last 9 games) "There are other teams in our division that have talked about games in the past, you know, I really don't feel like you can put any stock in any other games other than this year. Obviously we'll study the film from week one when we played against them, but they have new players, new coaches. It's always been a tough team when we've played down there in Jacksonville; definitely expect that this week as well."
(on what they've talked about this week) "All we've talked about is, like I said, trying to get ready to play in this short week and that's plenty enough of a challenge, especially having to travel."
(on how Caldwell has avoided the adjustment period that comes for coaches replacing successful coaches) "Coach Caldwell kind of has his own philosophies. Obviously he's borrowed a lot of philosophies from coaches that he's worked for. Players have responded to his style. They've bought into his philosophy and players are playing hard for him, which ultimately I feel like is the main thing. That's what's happened so far."
(on how he would describe Caldwell's philosophy) "I could probably give you a better answer next year after I've seen around the course of one whole year. Our team's gotten to know him throughout this year, he's gotten to know us and we're learning something new about him in each phase – mini camp, training camp, and now in the fourth quarter of the season. But the main thing is players are playing hard for him."