Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell Says Goal is To Get Better Every Week
INDIANAPOLIS – As Jim Caldwell sees it, there's no reason to panic.
Caldwell, in his second season as the Colts' head coach, said while there is obviously much work to do in several areas in the wake of a season-opening loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday, it's just as true that what went wrong is fixable.
The Colts, he said, have faced adversity in past seasons. They have fought through it and been successful.
The task now, he said, is to do so again.
"Oftentimes, it's the business of those who cover our team to write what they want in terms of how they view things," Caldwell said Monday, a day after a 34-24 loss to the Houston Texans in an AFC South game in the 2010 NFL regular-season opener at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.
"Oftentimes, the more interesting it is from your (the media's) standpoint, the better. I think for us, it's one of those things where it's a long haul. It's Round One of a 16-round fight. What we have to do is continue to get better each and every week. That's what we focus in on.
"We really don't look at things closely and examine the season until after we've played about four games. Then, you can kind of tell where you are and have an idea of things."
Arian Foster, the Texans' second-year running back, set a franchise record with 231 yards rushing Sunday and also rushed for three touchdowns. The Texans rushed for 257 yards as a team, and Foster rushed for 191 yards in the second half.
The Colts, who had rallied from 17-point deficits to win in their last two games in Houston, rallied from an early 13-point deficit to pull to within three points at halftime, but the Texans controlled momentum throughout the second half with a strong running performance.
"When you look at it, it's kind of a combination of things," Caldwell said. "There was no one certain thing. We certainly did play, I think, pretty steady in the first half. I think that was quite evident."
Caldwell said the defense played well early, twice holding the Texans to field goals in adverse situations – a drive following a long, early punt return and another drive following a long interference penalty.
"In both cases, we held them to field goals," Caldwell said. "You have to feel pretty good about that. They were able to stop the run in that situation and slow them down."
Caldwell said the Texans played better than the Colts in the second half. He said part of the second-half issues defensively was players not being in the correct gap, and that missed tackles were also a problem.
"It was just a matter of execution," Caldwell said. "There were a number of different things that cropped up that we just have to be able to do more consistently well."
Caldwell on Sunday compared the loss to a loss to Jacksonville in 2006 in which the Jaguars rushed for 375 yards. After that game, then-Head Coach Tony Dungy talked about the problems being fixable, and Caldwell said the same approach is appropriate in this situation.
"I don't think there's any doubt," Caldwell said. "It's just a matter of making certain that we get ourselves to do what we've been doing, but just do it a little bit better. I don't think there's any question about it – when you look at our team and just look at the history of it, every year's a little different, but we've been a team that has been able to get ourselves in position to stop the run.
"We've had teams before that have certainly been dedicated to just strictly running the ball downhill at us, and we've certainly been able to rise to the occasion. I think with work – we have a lot of work to do – we can get right back to where we are a team that can stop that run."
Colts middle linebacker Gary Brackett said, "We pride ourselves on fixing things, and I think that's what we'll get done."
Brackett said the game was a "tale of two halves," and that the Colts can take positives from holding Foster to 40 yards rushing in the first two quarters.
"We were playing pretty good – getting off the field on third down, holding those guys to field goals," Brackett said. "Then, the second half obviously was a different story. I think we can build on what went on in the first half."
Peyton Manning, the Colts' quarterback and a four-time NFL Most Valuable Player, completed 40 of 57 passes for 433 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He was sacked twice, and Caldwell said while Houston was able to get too many hits on Manning, overall the offensive line played well.
"We have high standards around here," Caldwell said. "If he gets hit one time, that's one too many. Overall, I thought there were a few too many times. Obviously, he got sacked twice, but for the most part, all in all when you look at it, the line did a pretty good job under some pretty heavy pressure and some good rushers. They have some strength.
"When you look at the film, there were some good battles going on in there, and they were able I think to do a pretty good job."
Caldwell also said there was little update on the status of Colts safety Bob Sanders.
Sanders, the 2007 Associated press Defensive Player of the Year, sustained what the Colts announced as an elbow injury in the first quarter Sunday. Caldwell said he will undergo an MRI Monday.
"He wants to be in there and wants to play," Caldwell said. "Certainly everyone feels the same way."
Caldwell said the situation involving wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez is much the same. He sustained an ankle injury and Caldwell said he will undergo an MRI Monday.