Questions and Answers With Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell
Questions and answers with Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell . . .
Question: You just wrapped up your second organized team activities as the Colts' head coach. What did you think, and how do you feel heading into the summer months?
Answer: Good. We've made some progress. I think overall the team improved, got a little better. I think our practices were extremely sharp. We have still some work to do, but I feel good at this juncture.
Q: How a team improves in the off-season . . . that's a very underrated thing in the NFL, isn't it? You're a firm believer that a team can improve from its off-season work . . .
A: Particularly for us, because if you look at the way our roster is built, it's very, very imant, No. 1, to improve, in terms of the guys who have been here every single year, because this league presents such a great challenge. You obviously have to get better. If you don't get better, people catch up. There's obviously not much different between 11-5 and 5-11. The second reason this time is so important for us is because of the new people. The way the league is designed, you have to have an influx of new bodies and new minds and attitudes to deal with. We have to be able to cultivate them. We have to be able to introduce them to what we do. We have to be able to get them to the point where they can help us.
Q: And as you've said before, one key to that – maybe THE key – the culture already being in place. And that starts with your veteran leaders, doesn't it?
A: Our veteran players, and our best players, are our hardest workers. When you have that going for you, they set great examples for our other guys.
Q: And there are specific examples in recent years of guys who have emerged in OTAs . . .
A: Oftentimes, that's one of the things that have been key for us through the years. Everybody was talking about (wide receivers) Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie last year in terms of how they played. What people saw from those guys was like the tip of the iceberg. There was a lot of work that went on underneath to build a solid foundation. . . .
Q: A lot of people think once a player is in the NFL, that's who that player is, how good he can be. But you believe there is improvement to be done within a career . . .
A: There are a number of veterans we can point to, just look at the seasons they've had and you see they continue to get better. Our team reflects that as well. . . . If we play exactly like we did last year, chances are that might not be good enough.
Q: With OTAs over, what's next? How much time do you spend in the next few weeks thinking about football, or is it a wrap until training camp?
A: One of the things we've always done is we try to do the entire scheduling for everything – for training camp practices, all of that stuff, it's all done. I've had an opportunity to walk through it on several occasions before we came up with the final product. Now, we'll obviously think about it because there are so many important things. You think about what we're going to talk about it, what our theme is going to be, and things of that nature. I'll think about it at this time, but I'm freed up not to have to worry about the structure of the training camp.
Q: You've had in this off-season a couple of fairly significant coaching changes, particularly the retirement of longtime offensive line coach Howard Mudd and the ascension to the job of Pete Metzelaars, as well as Clyde Christensen taking over as offensive coordinator after 12 seasons with Tom Moore in the position. Talk about the changes, first of all, with Metzelaars taking over for Mudd.
A: First of all, I do think when you have a change of coaches, it's going to be a little different. It was a change with (former Head Coach) Tony (Dungy) and I. We had a lot of similarities, but you still have some differences. I think it's the same way with Howard and Pete. There are a lot of similarities, but there are some differences. There's only one Howard Mudd, but the transition has been smooth. Pete is smart. He understands the system. He knows what we're doing. He has been working with those guys for a number of years, then couple that with the fact that last spring – all the way up until training camp – he directed that unit. And he did a very fine job. I don't think the transition will be quite what people are anticipating. It will be smooth, just like Clyde and Tom, although Tom's still here. I don't think you will see any drop off.
Q: This is a basic question and sort of obvious, but any difference in your feeling going forward from last year? Last year, you were in your first season, but is there anything different about your second?
A: I'm still a bit anxious. I'm still excited. And obviously, we still have concerns. You blend all of those together, you have quite a mix.
Q: As you prepare for training camp, then, the primary question. Can the team be better than last year? You went 14-2 with a Super Bowl appearance, but is there room for improvement?
A: We have a chance to have a real outstanding team. We have an opportunity, but we have to prove it. It takes work to get there. The work is still ahead of us. We have to be able to get out and do all of the little things it takes to win.