INDIANAPOLIS – Finding the right mixture between work and rest for an NFL head coach may not be as tricky as balancing both sides of a chemical equation, but it is a matter that takes some thought.
The Colts reported to training camp at Anderson University on August 1 and have completed 10 of 16 regular season games. Counting four preseason contests, the Colts have played games on 14 consecutive weekends, and Indianapolis joins Pittsburgh, Houston and New Orleans as the last teams to have bye weeks.
A 53-man roster has players with varying needs of work and rest. Only nine players have started every game, while 24 have played in all 10 contests. The club has been battered enough physically that it has employed 64 different players to this point.
The Colts completed a little bit of work on Tuesday and Wednesday. The squad then will take a four-day break before reconvening next week to prepare for Carolina.
Head Coach Jim Caldwell sets the tone for the team, and he knows his players will find the right patterns this week for their physical and competitive needs.
"Each and every person has their own approach to what they think is best for them, so they'll react accordingly," said Caldwell. "I still do think that even if some of the guys who do hang around, it's not like we're practicing during the course of the day. They'll still get an opportunity to kind of get away from it. Even some of the guys that leave, I think a number of them usually take film with them and those kinds of things.
"This is their job and what they do, so they're always trying to look at ways to get better. But you don't have the physical drudgery on you for about four days. They still, I think, will be able to get a little bit of a respite."
Questions asked of Caldwell on Monday after the loss to Jacksonville included the possibility of lineup changes for the Carolina game. Caldwell indicated that while the bye week includes a chance for personnel review, it is a standard analysis process used in previous seasons and it is done roster-wide and not necessarily at a certain position.
"Another good thing about the bye week is that we get a chance to really sit down, take a look at everybody across the board, make certain that we have people in the right position and see where we want to go from this point forward," said Caldwell. "We don't have to make decisions today or tomorrow in that regard, so we do have a chance to kind of see where everybody is."
Against the Jaguars, the Colts went through a difficult day where the offense generated 212 net yards, did not score a touchdown, had three turnovers and accounted for a number of the club's six penalties. Caldwell substituted reserve quarterback Dan Orlovsky for starter Curtis Painter with 5:55 remaining in a 10-3 game. The move was made by Caldwell to try to spark the attack and he would not address on Monday if any larger decisions were coming at the position. Circumstances related to Painter's performance (13-of-19 passing for 94 yards and two interceptions) were beyond Painter himself, Caldwell noted.
"No, we have not," said Caldwell on if any decision were coming at the quarterback position. "I know a lot of people are kind of looking at Curtis (Painter) in terms of how he played and that kind of thing. I can tell you this, after looking at the film, when you take a look at it, that's why I'm always hesitant to always talk about things in detail. When you get a chance to look at that film and you see that, obviously, the first time he threw the ball on the first interception that he threw, there was a guy sitting in his lap. Now, perhaps we can say that maybe he should not have thrown it, but he was under pressure the first three times we dropped back. The first five times we dropped back there was pressure on him. The time that he threw the second one, he was hit from the side as well. There are a number of different things that occur during the course of the game that you don't see until you have an opportunity to look at it (on tape). We're in that evaluation process right now."
Indianapolis has used six different starting combinations on the offensive line in 10 games in large measure by injuries. The secondary has been affected, too, as has the defensive line. Tight ends Dallas Clark and Brody Eldridge missed the Jacksonville game with injuries, and so did starting running back Joseph Addai. Those absences affected the unit's capabilities.
Caldwell says the team has had a number of personnel changes this season, and he hopes some players can return healthy for the November 27 game with Carolina.
"Well, we've had a lot of changes naturally, and some more so out of necessity than by design," said the third-year head coach. "Hopefully we're going to start to get, maybe, a few guys back here and there to give us a little bit more stability with some guys maybe coming back after the bye. Some of those changes may happen as a result of guys getting healthy."
Reviews during a bye week are standard procedure for coaching staffs. They do it in addition to analyzing personnel. Studying approaches in all phases of the game are done, but Caldwell does not see a large change in philosophy. What he hopes for, and what his staff will work on, will be getting more consistent play from the players.
"We'll take a look at everything that we do," said Caldwell. "We're not going to deviate a whole lot from the way in which we do things. We have to stick to what we're doing and get a little bit better at it."
"Obviously, the old saying, and I probably said it a number of times when I first arrived, is, 'Be careful of the person that wants to change everything, and the person that wants to change nothing.' I think we'd like to be somewhere in between."