Caldwell Unhappy with Performance in 13-3 Loss in Preseason Opener
INDIANAPOLIS – The Jim Caldwell era opened Friday – the preseason version, anyway.
And afterward, Caldwell – in his first season as the Colts' head coach – said it did not matter much if the game were in the preseason or not, that few positives emerged in the wake of a 13-3 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in front of 65,484 at Lucas Oil Stadium Friday night.
And Caldwell made one thing clear in the aftermath:
Losing is not acceptable.
Not even in August.
"We obviously certainly didn't perform very well," Caldwell said after the Colts were outgained, 351-142, by the defending NFC North Champions.
"We didn't control the line of scrimmage, which is something you have to do, particularly playing against a team that runs the ball as well as they do and as consistently as they do. We had a lot of miscues, missed tackles, penalties – all of the things that are going to slow you down a little from being a team that puts points on the board."
Peyton Manning, last year's Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player, played just one series, completing one of two passes for six yards. He was sacked three times playing behind a line that entered the game without starting tackles Ryan Diem (back) and Charlie Johnson (pectoral).
"It was sloppy and lackadaisical," Colts offensive guard Ryan Lilja said. "Every area of the game was pretty lethargic. Not the way we wanted to start."
The Colts managed one first down on the series, coming on a six-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Austin Collie, and running back Joseph Addai had a 14-yard run.
Most of the Colts' starters left the game after the series.
"That's kind of the way it is in preseason," Manning said. "You always wish you could stay in to improve upon the series before, especially when you don't score or kind of go backwards – not a real positive or good taste in your mouth coming off the field after that series, then finding out you're not going back in.
"We'll try to kind of keep that sour taste in our mouth into next week against Philly, and hopefully, we can go out and play better while we're in there next week."
In all, the Colts played without nine starters: Diem, Johnson, wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez, defensive tackle Antonio Johnson, tight end Dallas Clark, safeties Melvin Bullitt and Antoine Bethea and cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden and Marlin Jackson. Safety Bob Sanders, the 2007 Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year, is on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
The Colts, who ranked 31st in the NFL in rushing a year ago, rushed for 77 yards on 14 carries, including 58 yards on five carries by rookie first-round running back Donald Brown. Starter Joseph Addai rushed for 13 yards on two carries.
The Vikings rushed for 198 yards on 41 carries.
"Obviously, there are some things the whole team needs to improve on," Manning said. "To score three points, that's not good enough. It's hard to say right now. We need to see the film. I know we'll see a lot of things to improve on. Hopefully, we'll see a few positives in there."
Said Caldwell, "I'll stop worrying about winning when they stop keeping score of these games. Obviously, winning's imant to us. That's our objective every time we take the field and we didn't perform well enough to win tonight."
The Colts, who are 3-16 in the preseason since 2005 and 51-13 in the regular season in the same span, fell behind 7-0 after a first quarter in which Minnesota showed why it is considered one of the NFL's premier rushing offenses.
The Vikings in the first quarter rushed nine times for 56 yards, taking a 7-0 lead when Chester Taylor capped a 72-yard, 11-play drive with a five-yard run.
Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 20 yards on four carries on the drive.
"That's the great thing about games – you have an opportunity to see a little different vantage point of where your weaknesses are," Caldwell said. "We're going to work on it. There's no question about that. It's not like we haven't been working on it. We'll hone in on that and we're going to get better in that area."
The Colts, who allowed 10 first downs and produced one in the first quarter, had their most impressive drive of the half early in the second quarter. It was a drive keyed by Brown.
On the first play, he rushed for 11 yards on his first NFL carry, and on the second, he had a six-yard run. He followed that with a 38-yard run off left tackle to the Minnesota 27.
"It looked like Brown made a couple of good runs there," Manning said. "I thought he had some good blocking on those plays and he made a couple of guys miss on his own. That was encouraging to see."
Four plays later, a 42-yard field goal by Shane Andrus made it 10-3, Vikings.
Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell, who earlier in the quarter had a 35-yard field goal, converted a 36-yarder on the drive after Andrus' field goal to make it, 13-3, Vikings.
Rookie quarterback Curtis Painter, a sixth-round selection in the 2009 NFL Draft from Purdue, replaced Manning after the first series. He completed 10 of 17 passes for 77 yards and was sacked twice.
"Curtis hung in there tough," Manning said. "It's always a tough situation going in there, playing for the first time. He was playing with a lot of other guys who are playing for the first time. Some of them are in different positions. No question we were shuffling some guys. We had some guys playing guard or tackle for the first time.
"It's never a real comfortable feeling playing in that first preseason game as an NFL player, but I think he'll learn from it and the experience of playing as much as he did tonight will serve him well down the road."
The Colts play host to the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"We have to tee it back up again," Caldwell said. "We have a lot of work to before next week. We play in six days and we have another good football team coming in here.
"We have to buckle down, you have to get back to basics and really focus in on them. We have to get our team to where we'd like to see it."
Said Manning, "It's a short week, but we need to improve on some things this week and get ready to play a lot better on Thursday."