Questions and Answers with Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell
Questions and answers with Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell . . .
Question: You've been the head coach for about six weeks now. You're still new to the role, but what are your impressions? You mentioned at the NFL Scouting Combine the amount of time the job could take if you let it . . .
Answer: One of the things is you have to set priorities in this business. You have to make certain you try to adhere to what you've kind of put in place as to what's really imant to you. If you don't, this job could certainly keep you busy all day and all night. You can always find something to do between the preparation needed in terms of directing your staff and the players and also preparation that's needed evaluating personnel on your own team and the draft – and obviously, preparing for public speaking engagements and things of that nature and dealing with the media. There is a lot to do, but it's a lot of fun, too. It's a real challenge. It certainly gives you an opportunity to get a real sense of who you are. It certainly touches you in almost every single area of your life.
Q: Now, that's not to say you weren't busy before. When you're coaching quarterback Peyton Manning, you're not cutting out at 5 o'clock every day . . .
A: In our business, period, it's a very difficult task to coach at this level. It's one that requires a lot of time and effort and energy. Yes, you could stay busy probably in any capacity in this league, but this one is multifaceted. You definitely don't have to deal with the media as an assistant coach nearly as much as you do as a head coach. The requests to speak at different functions and charitable events and things of that nature – you're not asked to do nearly as many (as an assistant). It gets to be pretty interesting. It's a highly visible position with a lot of demands.
Q: We don't overwhelm you with questions comparing you to former Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy, but how much did you learn on that front watching him last year? He was a master at balancing that end of things . . .
A: A tremendous amount. He always has been able to do things at such a very, very smooth, but very efficient pace. He was highly efficient in that regard, and I certainly have had an opportunity to kind of watch him and learn quite a bit about making certain you take care of the things that are an issue here in the short-term. The long-term things, obviously, you get prepared for, but you don't have to get them done tomorrow. Obviously, he was able to kind of spread those things out and do them at a decent pace. (Smiling) The other thing we all have to understand is I'm not certain what he was like in his first year. I know as time goes on those things become a lot easier after you go through the first year or two. That's what I'm going through right now, although I think I am a little different than maybe a first-year head coach in this league because we didn't have to make a bunch of wholesale staff changes. I have a fairly decent feel for our building and the inner workings of it – our owner, our general manager/president, etc. There are a lot of things I'm familiar with that had I been in a situation brand new to me it certainly would have required a little bit more.
Q: There are assistants in the league who are getting their first head-coaching job of any kind. You coached at Wake Forest from 1993-2000 in what wasn't the easiest of situations. How much has having been a head coach at some level helped you be ready for the transition?
A: That can't be minimized. It cuts out a lot of the apprehension and trepidation in terms of going into a whole new situation, something foreign that you haven't done before. You're certainly a lot more comfortable with yourself in that role. Often, some of the guys may not be as comfortable with themselves because they haven't been there before. Obviously, a lot of guys do great jobs in their first year. That has been proven in this league, but it does help. I can tell you that.
Q: The first week you were on the job as head coach, you changed two coordinators, hiring Ray Rychleski to coach special teams and Larry Coyer to coordinate the defense. In so doing, you had to part ways with guys with whom you worked for seven years (former defensive coordinator Ron Meeks and former special teams coach Russ Purnell). That had to be difficult.
A: Very difficult. That's not easy. It's not easy because of the fact there are families involved. First of all, they were good people who did a good job. They were good coaches, but my job is to get things the way I see the direction I want to do. Often, that requires change that's not very comfortable. I think, too, if you meet it head on and are direct about it and give your reasons why, it may not be something you're comfortable with, but it's palatable. I think those involved understand. In the cases it happened here, both men were certainly able to land on their feet rather quickly. Because they're good at what they do.
Q: There was a perception, perhaps, that you wanted to make a "statement" upon getting the job and to put your stamp on the team. But there was more to it than that . . .
A: It's probably not any different than a politician that goes in and restructures his cabinet. Not because of the fact that the cabinet wasn't good and there weren't very capable people in that cabinet, but he wanted to make certain it's going how he approved of and was in line with his vision. That's how I would probably characterize it.
Q: There will be a lot of talk and focus about your first speech to the team. How important will that be, and have you given it much thought?
A: (Laughing) You know me, first of all – it's not like I haven't thought about it, nor is it like I haven't worked on a number of the areas I'm going to discuss. So, yeah, I've thought about it, but I haven't agonized over it, because the great majority of them know me. Maybe they don't know me in this particular capacity, but it's not going to be anything they're not accustomed to in dealing with me and there won't be any huge surprises, I don't think.
Q: But there is definitely a transition and a need to establish yourself as the head coach . . .
A: There's no question. They have to get accustomed to me in this role. It's still me. I'm the same guy I was eight months ago, but the fact of the matter is, I'm in a little different capacity. I certainly am in a position where it's going to require that I'm a bit more vocal than I've been before. They'll get a fresh look at me in that regard, but I don't think it's going to be anything that's going to be a shock to the system or anything of that nature.
Q: As you look at the offseason – free agency and how it's going forward – what are your thoughts? There seems to be a lot of depth that has been lost, or at least that has not been re-signed as of yet.
A: I think overall, if you look at our franchise and kind of the way in which we've operated over the years, from time to time we've had a situation where we may have lost a couple of players in free agency. We always have had young guys in position who have been able to step forward and fill that void and go on and be players who have contributed greatly within the organization within a very short period of time. That's what we expect in this particular case as well. This year won't be any different.
Q: Any particular position concerns?
A: It's kind of a situation where we look overall at our team. We still feel we have a good, solid nucleus on both sides of the ball. Where we may lose a guy or two here or there, for the most part we have some guys who certainly have been through some wars for us. Where we need young guys to step up and fill the roles as backups or in some cases as a starter, we think we're well-prepared for that.
Q: How important was it to get center Jeff Saturday back?
A: Really, he has been a cornerstone of the offensive line for a number of years. He certainly has been a very productive player. He has been a guy who week in and week out has set a great tone, overall, for our interior. But more than that, the intangibles he brings in terms of locker room, in terms of experience, in terms of his effort and his day-in, day-out professionalism – all of those things bring so much to the table that we're indeed happy to have him back. He certainly is of great value to our team.