Colts Using Time Off to Improve, Prepare for Playoffs
INDIANAPOLIS – Rather than approaching this week as a bye week, Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said the team is currently amidst a "preparation week."
Having earned the number one overall seed in the AFC playoffs with a 14-2 record in the regular season, Colts players will get time to rest up during Wild Card Weekend. And like their fans, they won't find out whom they will face in the Divisional Round – Baltimore, Cincinnati or New York – until Sunday afternoon.
Which is why Caldwell said the team is spending this week bettering itself and preparing for whatever challenge, and whichever team, lies ahead in the post-season.
"That is what's important to us," Caldwell said. "We have a lot of work to do and we want to make sure we get it all accomplished."
On Wednesday, the Colts held a "highly competitive practice," according to Caldwell, in which the first-unit offense and defense worked extensively against one another.
The Colts coach said the team is focusing on its execution, timing and speed work, three things the team has put an emphasis on this week.
"We are just trying to make certain we get our groove sort of going," Caldwell said. "Hopefully, we can continue to do that the rest of the week."
With the team's playoff picture not unfolding until this weekend, Caldwell said he is not clouding his practices with preparation for teams the Colts may not face.
"Rather than dilute your practice…we'd rather get some good work in and concentrate on ourselves," he said.
But the coaching staff is making certain to leave no stone unturned. Since last week, the coaches have been studying the three potential opponents and preparing for whatever scenario might occur. In addition, Caldwell said, the Colts are doing some self-scouting this week in order to take an objective look at some of their weaknesses.
"We take a couple of areas we may have been weak in, and we really concentrate on those areas and focus in on and try and get some of the problems solved this week," he said.
With the welcomed extra time this week, Caldwell said the Colts could zone in on their individual work more than they normally do. The week is giving players an opportunity to work on their fundamentals and techniques, something he said is done less and less as the season wears on due to intense preparation for weekly opponents.
But now, the Colts can address those areas at length.
Said Caldwell, "We are not worrying necessarily from a schematic standpoint of what we are going to face, but just trying to get execution and timing down, and hopefully those things will benefit you in the long run."
On his weekly radio show, Colts President Bill Polian said Monday that Caldwell's approach to the postseason is similar to Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno's, whom Caldwell worked under as an assistant for years.
Polian referenced a favorite quote of Caldwell's that the Colts coach gleaned from Paterno during his days with the Nittany Lions: 'Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.'
On Wednesday, Caldwell said that while the post-season is different in college and professional football, there are some big-picture ideas he applies from the legendary college coach.
"The big thing is he would always try and get the guys who were going to play in the (next) ballgame fresh, rested, well prepared and certainly mentally ready to go once the game started," he said.
Before a bowl game, Paterno would often delay giving his players the game plan until the team was in its normal rhythm.
That, Caldwell said, would help the team fight boredom, something Paterno felt was the enemy of preparation.
"We've taken this week to really focus in on ourselves, and then we will get right back in our normal rhythm next week," he said.