Questions and Answers with Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell
Questions and answers with Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell . . .
Question: The regular-season opener is upon us at last. Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars will be your first as an NFL head coach, but does this week feel any different?
Answer: Not really, because of the fact that we've been practicing for so long in preparation for the first game. Obviously, you sense that it's a lot closer (laughing), but you've been working toward it for a long time – really, since the spring. I'm looking forward to it.
Q: Most fans would say, 'Well, he must feel something. This is something that he has worked toward most of his life,' but that's not your way, is it? Will there be any sense of that as the game approaches, or is that hard to predict?
A: I don't think it's hard to predict, because there probably won't be a sense of that. I'm too focused in on my job and what we have to do in order to be successful. Very rarely do I take time to reflect upon any personal satisfaction. That comes from winning. It really does. That's kind of where my focus will be.
Q: One thing interesting you said in the offseason centered around all of the offseason stories that focused on, 'Is this Caldwell's team now,' or, 'When will he put his stamp on things.' You made the point that a lot of people have put a lot into building this team, and you don't think of it as, 'Your team . . .'
A: I really don't. I've never conducted my life in any shape, form or fashion that way. I know there are a lot of people responsible for any measure of success I've had in my life. Obviously, there are the blessings of the Lord. But then there are a lot of other men and women who have certainly helped us along the way. When you look at our team, there have been a lot of imant milestones that have been achieved because of the Irsay family and their commitment to excellence, and to giving us resources to win. You look at our overall administration, from every single avenue, from community service to marketing to ticket sales to . . . you name it. They all play a part. Then, you look at an unbelievable fan base that has contributed to obviously the great sense of pride and community that this city and surrounding state has about our team. You have to attribute a great deal to our players who have done a great job not just performing on the field but also interacting with fans off the field. You also have to credit an unbelievable coaching staff. It's gone through the ages. When I first came here, I remember (Caldwell's predecessor) Tony (Dungy) mentioning that he was so pleased with how hard the team worked. He often attributed that to (Dungy's predecessor) Jim Mora and how that was one thing he never had to worry about, was the way this team practiced. It just continues to go back. Then, how does one take credit for God's handiwork.
Q: So, do you think of this as sort of, 'Your turn to drive the car,' or is that not portraying it right?
A: Not necessarily, and I'll probably work to not necessarily be the central focus. I've been charged to lead this team and direct it. My biggest challenge is to create an atmosphere that's conducive to success and solve problems. That's what the position is all about. The position is not to create problems, but to solve those that do appear. There certainly will be many throughout the year. My job is to keep us headed in the right direction, but I have a lot of help with that aspect of it, too. I have a lot of very experienced people around me who can certainly help give us a little guidance along the way. But I enjoy the challenge as well.
Q: An interesting point you made in the press conference Monday was about focus. You're very much a guy who focuses on the task at hand and doesn't believe in looking too far ahead . . .
A: What happens oftentimes is when you get your sights well beyond your immediate concerns, your immediate problems, your immediate issues, it detracts from your immediate issues, your preparation. That's kind of how I always looked at things. That kind of goes in line with a sign in our locker room. We don't have many signs in our locker room, but one of them is, 'Take care of the little things, and the big things take care of themselves.' If you focus in on the little things, the big picture will develop. I think it was (legendary baseball executive) Branch Rickey who said, 'Luck is the residue of design.' There was another one about small steps, one by one. I've always kind of believed in taking care of the now, of the immediate, and letting all of the other things kind of happen.
Q: And you've felt that way since before working with Tony. That was one of his big themes . . .
A: I've lived my whole life that way. Just for some reason or the other, it's always been part of my makeup.
Q: Right now, going into this season, what do you like about this team? What makes you feel confident as you sit less than a week before the opener?
A: It's a team that understands winning. They have great work habits. It's a team that has great respect for one another. It's a team that has real sound, veteran leadership.
Q: That's what you need to win . . .
A: It's part of it. Those are the basic hallmarks of putting together a team that can win games in this league. That's difficult to do.
Q: This last weekend – cut-down weekend – is one no coach looks forward to. Now that it's over, though, is there a feeling of excitement, 'OK, here we go . . .'
A: It's a necessary process, because it's a pruning. Once you get to this point, you really have the core, the essence of your team. That's what's remaining. That's part of the pruning process. We've trimmed it down to the point where we think we have the proper ingredients we need to win consistently. You realize just how few numbers you have. It gets to be an even more cohesive and tight-knit group. It's almost like an immediate bonding because of the fact, number one, I think they all realize how difficult it is to make an NFL roster. (Middle linebacker) Gary (Brackett) said Monday, 'It always kind of feels funny when you come out today and you're down 22 guys. You look around and there a lot of vacant spaces where there used to be people.'