**Questions and Answers with Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell
*Question: A 35-34 victory over the New England Patriots Sunday night. It was one of those memorable games that will be discussed for a long time, but when it is going on, are you aware of the magnitude of the moment?
*A: You're not aware of the magnitude until it's over, because you don't know exactly what's going to happen. You think you have an idea that your guys are hanging in there. You don't know if you're going to run out of time. You'd like to think you're in good shape because of your preparation, but you're not sure if your execution will be keen enough to get done what you know is possible. We needed two touchdowns in four minutes and whatever the amount of seconds was. We had to put it in the end zone, stop them and put it in the end zone again. We knew what had to be done, but you're not quite certain.
Q: Not every team manages the clock well. The Colts usually seem to get the most out of the time remaining. Where does that come from? A: You work at it. You talk about it. We have a couple of things we've always done in two-minute drills. One of the main scenarios is we always work from about the minus 37-yard line, no timeouts, and you have 1:30 to get a touchdown to win. Usually, within that whole sequence to get that score it's going to vary. Sometimes, you're going to get there a little faster. Sometimes, you're going to get there a little slower. If you get there fast, you want to eat some time up. You don't want to leave them time. Those different scenarios, we work on. We change up all the different scenarios.
Q: There were so many subtleties and odd happenings late. Looking back, what struck you the most?
A: The biggest one of all was if that pass when they [the Patriots] go for it on fourth down occurs inside two minutes, they're going to review that. Who knows what would have happened in that situation? I was standing right on the line, so I knew he was short of it. When it hit his body, he was beyond it. He bobbled and came forward as he got hit by [Colts S] Melvin [Bullitt]. The official did an excellent job.
Q: If it had gone the other way, you had timeouts, so you could have challenged . . .
A: No question – if we could have, but if it's inside two minutes, it would have to be upstairs for review.
Q: How much does having been in that situation before as a team help?
A: I think there are a number of factors that go into it. It's your training and preparation. If you've gone through it enough times, you know what to expect. You can do it under pressure. That's No. 1. The other thing is, it's the kind of people you have. Character plays a lot into that. You have guys who are highly motivated and highly competitive. Yet, they have a keen sense of awareness where they can zero in and focus on the moment and not get distracted. [Penn State Head Coach Joe] Paterno always used to say – and I'll paraphrase it – that you can only have extended winning streaks with people with strong character because they don't have the ups and downs in training and preparation that folks do that are not highly-principled individuals.
Q: That is interesting, because this team not only has won 18 consecutive regular-season games, but it has put together many extended winning streaks in the seven seasons . . .
A: People underestimate that facet.
Q: It is fairly self-evident, but how imant is quarterback Peyton Manning's experience, poise, etc., to late-game situations and rallies such as Sunday's?
A: That's huge, because of the fact that he has 12 years of experience. He has been in about every conceivable situation you can possibly think of. With the way he thinks, he can probably remember each scenario and benefit from that resource. He shows that every week during the course of a ballgame. His experience was huge.
Q: And his clock management is something special, isn't it?
A: I don't think everybody has that. Very smart people don't always have that aspect of it down. It's a football-IQ sort of trait. He has that.
Q: How big of a factor is it that you spend so much time in the no-huddle throughout the game?
A: It gives us a great advantage. Every other team, they have to get out of their normal mode in order to function in two minutes. Whereas a lot of other teams only practice it in those periods for five minutes or so, we practice it every play. That's what we do. We have our whole offense available to us, whereas if you run the two-minute offense and you don't do it normally, you have a package of plays you use, a package of codes you use. You're limited. For us, the only thing that quickens is the pace. What also plays a big part is we're very relaxed in that operation. There's a rhythm to it. That's part of our normal functioning from an offensive standpoint. It does make that operation easier.
Q: For several weeks, a theme for those who follow the Colts is the lack of balance offensively. Sunday was an example, though, of how the Colts can be effective running . . .
A: You have to play to your strength sometimes, too. As long as you can effectively run it – which is the term I like to use – you're going to be fine. Look how many wins we get when he (Manning) throws for more than 300 yards. The number is ridiculous. What do we care how we get it, how we get that victory? It comes in a number of different ways. So, if it's a 300-yard passing day and 91 rushing, as long as we can run it when we want to, we're fine with that.
Q: What were your thoughts late in the game? Getting the ball at the 29 with two minutes remaining, you did not want to score too fast. There was a particular play when running back Joseph Addai broke free and nearly scored and it might not have been a great thing to score . . .
A: That was a lot of time. I don't think you'd ever coach this, but on Sunday, [Jaguars running back] Maurice Jones-Drew toward the end of the game popped through for a definite score and ended up kneeling and going down at the 2-yard line because he understood they were ahead and wanted the clock to run out. Our situation was different. If something happens where it pops open and you're trailing like we were, you have to take it, because you just don't know – there may be a tipped ball, interception or a fumble – you have to take it, and you have to play defense.
Q: But then when Addai didn't score there . . .
A: I was happy. I was thinking, 'Now we're going to be able to take it down to where they don't have a whole lot of time.'
Q: Yet another situation where experience helped . . .
A: I think they [the offense] did an excellent job of hanging in there together, not panicking and whittling it down. They understood what we had to accomplish, but they knew we had to score as well.
Q: It seems in recent weeks Addai has shown he's a back who may not gain 100 yards every game, but is very effective within the Colts' offense.
A: I would agree with that, particularly within the way in which we play. Depending upon the ballgame, Joe might approach those numbers depending on how many times we give it to him. I'm not sure how many carries he had Sunday, but it's not like he's getting 25 carries. His average per carry is around four yards this past game, but if you give it to him enough times, he's one of those guys where you say, 'He's a pretty good back.'
Q: He also does more than run.
A: You don't have to worry about pass protection when he's in there. You don't have to worry about whether or not he's going to catch the ball out of the backfield. There are a lot of teams that have to substitute by committee. If they're going to throw it, they have to bring a pass protector. If they're going to run draws or screens, they have to bring the guy in who's a bit more fleet-footed. We look for guys who can do it all, who you don't have to use a specialty sort of substitution with our offensive set.
Q: As you move into the second half of the season, what is the message?
A: The message will change week to week depending on who we're playing, but one of the big things I look for is we have to find a way to get better every week, so whatever it was the week prior, you have to look at your weaknesses realistically and keep improving on them from a schematic standpoint. You also have to look at things earnestly from a personnel standpoint. Often, because you're 9-0, people think you should make no personnel changes because you've been winning, so what's wrong with keeping things as they are? If you keep things as they are in this league and you're not trying to improve every week, sometimes cracks become crevices. What we try to do is continually work to try to improve in every phase and try to bring those to light.
Q: And as you have shown this season, you do not mind making a change if it's needed . . .
A: What it is is it's always that anticipation to measure up. I hold myself to those same standards. That's how I live. I look at my job and say, 'I've got a job for this week. That's all I know. I have one for this week. I'm still coaching this week, so this week, I say, 'What can I do to help me win the next game?' That's all I look for, I look for, 'Hey, how can I get better and get us in position to win the next game?'
Q: You have said all year you are not concerned with the idea that "Jim Caldwell" is 5-0, 7-0, 9-0, etc. But with the Colts now 9-0, you've set the record for most consecutive victories to start an NFL head-coaching career. It really means nothing to you?
A: It really doesn't. I haven't thought about it that much. No. 1, the goal you set for the season is, 'Win your division.' If you win the division, that guarantees you a slot in the playoffs. If you get in the playoffs, then you have the opportunity to win it all. That's what everything is measured on in this league. No one measures your success by number of games you win in a row or are you undefeated? Nobody comes out and says, 'Our goal is to be undefeated this year.' Not in this league. So, it's really not an issue in the forefront of your mind. Some of things are residual, kind of a residue of hard work, but it really doesn't bring anything tangible.
Q: You clearly have made an impact in your first season, but how pleased are you that some of the things that were key the past several years – particularly the 'Next-Man-Up' philosophy, seems to have carried forward, too?
A: That's huge and the players already have been ingrained and indoctrinated in this culture. It's when you have to make culture changes that things are tough to get across. We already had those things. Tony set a great standard and preached about how he wanted things done. Guys bought into it and not only the guys bought into it, but everybody here – myself included – believed it and have seen it work. I really never wanted to deviate from that. To have that in place was a blessing. Changing culture, that's difficult. You don't have two or three years in this business. I'm thankful and blessed that all of those things were in place. They're also in place because we believe in them. If they were things we didn't believe in, we'd seek to change. That has been gratifying. There are a lot of wins wrapped up in how we practice, how we go about things, what our philosophy is. Some of those things, I kind of grew up with. Coaching in college, I remember other guys always talking about, 'I'm not going to have this guy,' or, 'I'm not going to have that guy.' I always said to myself, 'I'm going to coach who shows up.' That was always my phrase, 'I'm going to coach who shows up. I'm going to get him to be a better player and get him to do the job he's supposed to do.' I've always believed that way.