Caldwell Not Satisfied with 4-2 Start Entering 2010 Bye Week
INDIANAPOLIS – No way is Jim Caldwell satisfied.
Caldwell, in his second season as the Colts' head coach, said while the Colts indeed welcome the bye week – and while they have ably negotiated a road-heavy early season schedule – he factors in neither of those issues when assessing performance.
The Colts are 4-2, tied for first place in the AFC South.
And while that's not an unenviable position, Caldwell said Monday, "We'd like to be better."
"I'm not certain you're ever going to hear a coach tell you he's content, or satisfied," Caldwell said Monday, a day after the Colts maintained a share of the division lead with a 27-24 victory over the Washington Redskins at FedExField in Landover, Md.
"We'd like to be undefeated at this time. That's our goal and aim, so no, I wouldn't say (he's pleased with the Colts' position). I'd say our guys have played well the last couple of games, and we have to find a way to string good, quality, consistent play back to back to back.
"We're still in search of that."
The Colts, after losing the regular-season opener, have won four of their last five games, including victories the last two weeks over Kansas City and Washington, teams that entered the games against the Colts leading their divisions.
Peyton Manning, the Colts' quarterback and four-time Most Valuable Player, on Sunday completed 25 of 38 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns, with running back Joseph Addai rushing for a season-high 128 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
The Colts rushed for a season-high 170 yards and outgained Washington, 469-335, but three Indianapolis turnovers – three fumbles lost in the second half – helped enable the Redskins to have possession late in the game with a chance to win or tie.
"You just cannot turn the ball over," Caldwell said. "That's the most imant thing."
Caldwell also said the Colts had "far too many" missed tackles Sunday, which helped allow Redskins reserve running back Ryan Torain – playing in place of injured starter Clinton Portis – to rush for 100 yards on 20 carries.
"It certainly made things a lot more difficult that way," Caldwell said of the missed tackles on Torain. "He was able to ramble on numerous occasions that kept drives alive. It certainly helped them establish some pretty good field position that if we had gotten them stopped in the backfield where we had him quite a few times, we might have been able to get them off the field a little more often.
"They had a pretty good overall game, but we cannot miss that many tackles."
Caldwell said the Colts' defense pressured Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb well, and the Colts also limited Washington to four-of-13 on third-down conversions. A one-handed interception by Colts safety Aaron Francisco ended the Redskins' final possession and sent the Colts into a bye week that Caldwell said Monday comes at a "very good" time.
"We're a little banged up," Caldwell said. "It will give us a chance to rest a few guys and see if we can get them back for the next contest. It's also a delicate balancing act, because you have to try to continue to get better as well. That's going to be a real challenge for us."
Caldwell said the hope is to get players such as wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (ankle), running back Donald Brown (hamstring) and middle linebacker Gary Brackett (groin) back by the time the Colts play host to AFC South co-leader Houston on Monday, November 1.
"We hope that's the case, but you never know," Caldwell said. "It depends on what happens between now and then, but hopefully, we'll get them back."
Said Colts cornerback Kelvin Hayden, "We understand it's part of the game. Hopefully these guys can get better as the bye week takes its progress and we can move forward."
Caldwell said whatever the Colts' injury situation, he doesn't believe it affects games' outcomes, citing the performance of Pat Angerer at middle linebacker, who played in place of Brackett and registered 11 tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, one quarterback hurry and two passes defensed.
"I don't think so," Caldwell said. "I don't ever believe in making excuses. I think you see week in and week out that we have guys step in and play. Pat Angerer did a fine job stepping in and playing for Gary.
"There's an old adage, 'Excuses are tools of incompetence. They are used by monuments of nothingness. And those that specialize in them are seldom good at anything else.' I believe that. We do not go out crying, 'Woe is me.' Our job is to win, to get it done – plain and simple.'
*Kelvin Hayden said he missed some time late Sunday because of sickness.
*Caldwell said the Colts opted to pass on three consecutive plays on a drive with less than three minutes remaining because of the circumstances presented in the situation. The Colts' three incompletions and a punt gave the Redskins possession at their 38 with 2:13 remaining, after which Indianapolis held Washington on downs before running out the clock. "It just depends on how you feel, and your gut feel in that situation," Caldwell said. "We knew they were going to crowd the box and keep us from running the ball. We knew we had to get a first down. What better way to do it than the way we've been doing it. We tried to obviously stay with what we've been doing. We just weren't able to get it converted."
*Caldwell said the offensive line was key to the running game Sunday. "What helped the run game was the fact that our offensive linemen did a tremendous job," Caldwell said. "They took the challenge of really making certain they wanted to run the ball well – particularly against some of the looks teams are giving us nowadays. Those guys did a tremendous job. Those guys played hard and well together and certainly gave Joseph and Mike some opportunities to run. They created some creases and I think did a very good job."
*Caldwell said the one-handed reception by Pierre Garcon on a 21-yard gain in the second quarter compared to a one-handed catch by Marvin Harrison early last decade against the Tennessee Titans that many regard as one of the most memorable plays in the franchise's recent history. "There have been some great ones around here, and that was certainly added to the list," Caldwell said, adding that Francisco's one-handed interception of McNabb late and an early, left-handed interception by cornerback Jerraud Powers also were critical. "There were a couple of good catches out there that were really, really important through the course of the game."