COLTS HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL
Do you know the status of cornerback Jerraud Powers?
"Not yet. We'll probably release something after practice, so we'll see how he's coming."
What are your thoughts on your running game at this point?
"I just think from a coaching standpoint we're always looking for areas we need to improve upon, and that's one of them. If you ever hear about a coach getting satisfied with an area, there's a problem. So we're not satisfied; we're certainly not complacent. We're trying to be vigilant, and we're still working and trying to improve that area."
Is there ever concern that defenses won't bite on the play fake?
"I think that overall it's always been a good weapon for us. It's not like we have not been able to run the ball at all. I think we've been fairly efficient, though not as productive as you'd like to be. But I also think it's part of the execution of the ball-handling, the techniques that are used, that also has a bit of a pull to it as well."
Are you grateful about the way the Colts handled the succession plan from coach Tony Dungy to you?
"Yes ... I think without question, we are certainly grateful, thankful. I'm not certain what other words we can use in that regard for the process. It gave me a little time to prepare. It also afforded me an opportunity to maybe get a look at some things that I ordinarily would not have been able to see until it was time for me to actually do the job, more or less on-the-job training. Due to the graciousness of (Team President) Bill Polian, (Owner and CEO) Jim Irsay and (former Head Coach) Tony Dungy, they allowed me to really get involved in a number of different areas that typically assistant coaches don't have an opportunity to take part in. I was able to sit and watch and listen, ask questions, contribute when asked. It certainly gave me an opportunity to kind of see exactly what I'd like to do when my opportunity came about, and to certainly keep in place the things that were successful for us as well."
Did the process enable you to approach your job differently as a rookie head coach?
"It certainly has been a benefit. There were two things, I think, that were advantageous for me. No. 1 is exactly what we've been talking about. They gave me an opportunity to kind of see behind the curtain a bit. But, No. 2, I had to prepare for six head coaching interviews. In those interviews, you typically have to lay out what you're going to do in the course of the year, put your manual together, be able to verbalize your philosophy and those kinds of things. What do you want to get done in your first 30 days? All that kind of stuff. When it came time for me, all I had to do was kind of put those things in place that I had thought about year in and year out. It was a three-year period when I had actually done two a year, I think. So I had some pretty good prep time. So it did give me an opportunity to reflect and take a look and then make some adjustments where needed."
Forty-eight hours from the AFC title game, at a gut level, what are you feeling?
"Just like any of our other games that we've played. We try to narrow it down to that. I know this is your job. You guys have to look at things and try to expound upon situations and try to make them a bit grand in terms of how you describe the things. For us, for me, we try to narrow this thing down as small as we possibly can and really look at the things that matter. All of the other stuff doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how I reflect on my past and my 30-some years of coaching before. That doesn't matter. What matters is what we do right now in preparation for winning this game. So we narrow it down as tight as we possibly can, and I try not to deviate from that."
Have there been any surprises that caught you off guard?
"I didn't get surprised because obviously I had done it for eight years when I was at Wake Forest. Eight years and you have 110 guys that you have to tell what to do for 365 days out of the year, for the most part, with a lot more complications in terms of going to class, recruiting, those types of issues. No, I understood the complexity of the situation. Nothing really caught me by surprise, but there are a lot of things that are very, very difficult once you're standing in the position where you have to make certain decisions. Maybe the toughest thing is – and I've mentioned this before – in college when you had to tell a guy you didn't have a scholarship for him and his mom and dad sitting there in your office, there obviously was disappointment. But typically they had other options, maybe. But it's a little different, I think, when you're dealing with men who have great dreams and aspirations and are at the top of their profession. You have to tell them that this is the end of the line. You're looking at them, but you also understand they have wives and children and there are families involved. That part is a bit difficult."
Did you feel fortunate to be able to sign kicker Matt Stover when Adam Vinatieri was injured?
"It was a real blessing. You talk about two great guys in terms of field goal kickers that do a tremendous job. I did read somewhere along the line that somebody was picking their teams of the decade or whatever, and Nos. 1 and 2 in terms of place-kickers were Adam and Matt. Yeah, we feel we were very, very blessed in that regard. We couldn't ask for a better person to step in when Adam wasn't able to get back as quickly as we liked when he did suffer the injury. He's come in and just done a tremendous job. Obviously, it's a very, very important position in these days, so we're glad to have a veteran who's been there before."
Can you comment on the switch this season to special teams coach Ray Rychleski and defensive coordinator Larry Coyer?
"One of the things we have to do, first of all, is get things in line with our philosophy – how we think, feel, see a particular area being carried out. We've had great coaches here before, so both of the guys, both in our special teams area and in terms of our defense, both guys did a tremendous job for us. Those guys were outstanding coaches who helped us to win a world championship. They did a tremendous job and they're doing a great job where they are now. It's just like a politician, even though we're not politicians, coming into a new position. It doesn't mean that a person who held a cabinet position didn't do a great job before. It's just that you're trying to get things in line with your thinking. And ours was to get someone in from the special teams standpoint who could get us some energy, get us an opportunity to really do well in terms of covering, to give us a little flexibility in what we do and we could use it as a weapon. And on defense, I just felt we wanted to be a little more aggressive, a little more of an aggressive style. Larry and I have a history, a long history. And I've known for quite some time that when my opportunity came he'd be one of the guys, if he was available, that I certainly would try to attract. Thank God it worked out that way."
What philosophies do you talk to the team about during the week?
"They don't change much. They really don't. Just in terms of our overall philosophy, we're a technique and fundamental team. We rely on those things first and foremost. But what we try to do is stave off any sort of complacency at all. It's a delicate balancing act. I've used this statement from time to time: What we have to do is humble our men without debasing them, and exalt them without inflating them. That's what I think coaching is all about. We give them a little bit of both in terms of our talks during the week, make certain they stay focused and understand you have to play well to win. But understand, too, that we think we have a pretty good ball club as well."
How has Larry Coyer put his stamp on this defense?
"It takes you all of about five minutes to see who he is. He's a tough, hard-nosed guy. Everything he does exhibits that kind of aggressiveness, that kind of toughness. He coaches that way, he studies that way, he prepares that way. Overall, he's a guy who is very, very intelligent. That was one of the great things about him coming in. The transition was smooth but yet abrupt enough to let the guys know, hey, there's a few things that we're doing a little different from what we've done in the past. He had had some experience working at Tampa when they ran the same scheme and terminology, but yet he had some of his own philosophy and his own ideas. Those are the things that I know and understand and knew extremely well how he would blend those two. I trust him implicitly, and he's done a great job just in terms of getting our guys to believe in what we do."
What concerns you about playing against Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez?
"Anybody in this league who lines up behind the center, and at this stage of the game, is a heckuva football player. We don't think there is any question he has all the ability in the world. He can make every throw. He's big and strong. He's an outstanding leader. You can watch him on the field. His infectiousness and enthusiasm for the game rubs off on his comrades. He's dangerous, and he's also mobile. So there's not anything he doesn't do well. If required, I'm certain he could go out and throw the ball around probably as well as anyone. Everything he does concerns us. He does a good job of getting his team into the right plays. He hasn't made very many mistakes. He's playing well."
How rare are all of those skills for a rookie?
"It's obviously highly uncommon because very few of them make it to this stage in the first portion of their career. I think the guy is doing just a great job; he's very, very capable."
What will be your message to the team on Sunday?
"It's not going to be real complicated, and it's not going to be real lofty in terms of our ideas. What we try to do is give them a message early in the week, Wednesday morning, and that message usually is sort of summed with three words. You talk about those three things and we'll send them out on the field and go work like we always do."
What are those three words for this week?
"Those are team-issue topics."
How do you feel about where the team is with two days remaining before the AFC Championship Game?
"Excellent. I think our guys have worked extremely hard. They're preparing well. We still have one practice left, and this practice has to be good and sharp and have the kind of energy and enthusiasm we're looking for. I feel good right now. We've had two real good practices. I'm not certain any coach wouldn't at this time. You know me: I'm a big believer in self-fulfilling prophecy. (There's) the old Chinese proverb: Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. I believe in what we do."
Will there be special attention to special teams this week?
"Not any more than we normally do. Every single week is important. Every guy we face is outstanding at what he does and an expert in his craft. Everybody has outstanding kick returners and guys who can cover and get after you. We don't take anybody for granted at any point; we don't prepare any differently for any team. We try to cover all the bases. We have to do our job. That's important."
What went wrong on Brad Smith's return for the Jets during the regular-season game?
"We just didn't execute properly. We didn't keep our lanes that we cover, didn't tackle when we had an opportunity. Obviously, he has skills and is gifted. Give him a crack and he can get in it."
Can you talk about Jamie Silva's role on special teams?
"First of all, he participates on almost every single one of our special teams. He's tough, can run, but also very smart, so he's extremely versatile. He's a guy who, when he's assigned to take care of an area, he's going to get it done. He gives you all that he has. He also has enough imagination to adjust when he has to."
So he's someone who gets everything out of his talent?
"He's a talented guy. He can run, he can hit. Not to diminish his skills; he has some skills. We're certainly glad he's here."
What's your reaction to Edgerrin James coming back as honorary co-caption on Sunday?
"I know this: There were a lot of guys, when they heard, they were pretty excited about having him come back. I think he embodies all the things that were of quality in this game. He's an extremely hard-working guy, a great team guy, a great locker-room guy, also just a true professional in his craft. Nobody took care of his body better, studied harder or functioned better at his position. We're certainly glad to have him back."
You have mentioned that whatever problems there were in the running game are fixable. Are they fixed?
"We'll see. That's why we play the game, you know. We'll see. We think we've fixed some things; we think we've corrected some things. That's the great thing about our game; that's what I love about it. We have a great barometer. That barometer shows up in the won-loss record. If you win it, you've done the job you were supposed to do if you were effective. If not, obviously you're going to be on the other end of the stick. So we'll see."
Did you watch the Jets-Colts Super Bowl in 1969?
"In 1969, I was probably somewhere, running around, playing sports myself at that particular time. I was 14 years old. I can't recall. During that time, my focus was pretty narrow. Probably, if the Bears weren't in it, I wasn't interested. I was an old Bears fan back in those days."