WASHINGTON WEEK IS GONE, GREEN BAY IS AHEAD
INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts dropped their second straight preseason game on Friday night, falling to Washington at Lucas Oil Stadium, 16-3.
Indianapolis surrendered half the point total it allowed in losing its opener at St. Louis on August 13, 33-10.
Still, the feelings of a loss remain. Those feelings are tempered a bit, however, by knowing this is preseason play when teams do not game plan specifically for opponents in the first two weeks. The matter of pride does cause the team to point toward the future, a future that includes Green Bay as visitors this coming Friday.
Defensive back Jerraud Powers was among the veteran stalwarts who assessed the club's performance from Friday night. Though the front-liners were on the field as Washington surged early, he remains confident all problems can be ironed out.
"(There is) no lapse of confidence at all, especially this early," said Powers. "We've been out of football for seven months or however long the lockout lasted and we've only been back three weeks. We have two more preseason games to go to get better before the real things start. We'll just work on fundamentals because everything that happened (against Washington) is something we can fix. We tip our hats to the Redskins. They did a tremendous job. It wasn't anything they were doing that hurt us. It was more of a case of us hurting ourselves and whenever that's the case, everything can be corrected. That's the positive we take from this."
Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Mathis concurred.
"We will be alright. We need to keep building on it and don't get discouraged," he said. "We're still getting better. Things never are as bad as they seem. After watching film, we will make corrections. There were missed tackles, so we will get that straightened out. I feel we will be alright."
Though Indianapolis yielded 415 yards for the evening, including approximately 270 and 16 points on the first four possessions, players were quick to point out this was not an outing the club had specifically game-planned for. Such strategies typically come in the third week of preseason, meaning fans attending this Friday's game will see a much different approach by Indianapolis and Green Bay.
Caldwell told him team on Friday night after the game that it must trend toward a better overall performance. The upcoming practice week will have a different approach, too. In addition to the coaching staff planning specifically for the Packers, the calendar will provide a return closer to normalcy than what training camp in Anderson provided.
In camp, the club practiced for two weeks before meeting an opponent, including a week when a foe was not even in sight. It worked at different times of the day than it would during the regular season. Caldwell now likes that the preseason schedule is affording a seven-day preparation period for an upcoming opponent.
"It's a Friday-to-Friday situation, so we get a chance to work this one (week) like we would a normal (regular season) week," said Caldwell. "It's a little bit different when you go from a Friday to a Thursday (in preseason). It's a little bit shorter…This one will really be good for us because it's one of the few times during the preseason in the last couple of years we've have a Friday-to-Friday match-up back-to-back. It gives us an opportunity to really go through a normal week's preparation."
While smart coaches like Caldwell adapt to any situation, he and those in his profession do have a regard for structure and routine. This coming week provides a routine the club will observe during most of the regular season, and it certainly differs from how things were planned for camp at Anderson University.
"The routine changes quite a bit (from a shorter week schedule). We've been practicing (in camp) at a little different times than we've ordinarily practice," said Caldwell. "We've practiced obviously in the morning, which we don't do during the regular season. We also practiced at 3:30 on most occasions in the afternoon (and) now we'll practice at 1:45 p.m., more closely to our 2:00 p.m. practices we had on days after night practices during Anderson. It changes a little bit. We have walk-throughs in the morning. The way we conduct our meetings, meetings are in the morning rather than at night. Things of that nature are much different than training camp (in Anderson)."
All in all, the schedule for the team this week is rounding more toward what it will be when league play starts. When that bell rings, the veteran linebacker Gary Brackett feels the performance on defense will resemble what Colts followers have witnessed in the past.
"I guess we still have a couple of weeks to see who's going to be on the defense," said Brackett. "Whoever lines up there the mindset will be the same – run to the ball, fly around, create turnovers."