Too Many Penalties in Second Preseason Game, Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell Says
INDIANAPOLIS – Jim Caldwell saw a lot to like Thursday.
But Caldwell, entering his second season as the Colts' head coach, said Friday as the team moved from a road preseason loss to the Buffalo Bills and toward its next dress-rehearsal game of the 2010 NFL preseason, there was work to be done. As expected.
The Colts and Bills were tied, 21-21, after a back-and-forth first quarter-and-a-half, and following a pair of field goals by Rian Lindell, a Colts turnover led to a late, game-clinching Buffalo touchdown. Overall, Caldwell said the Colts looked good on offense and defense at times early against the Bills, but committed too many penalties and could have tackled better at times.
"There are some things we have to work and shore up and improve," Caldwell said Friday, a day after the Colts lost to the Bills, 34-21, at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada.
Caldwell said the return game improved from the first week of the preseason, as did the running game. He also said the offense and defense played well at times in the first half.
The defense held the Bills without a first down on six possessions.
"We put together pretty good scoring drives offensively, and defensively, we had a good number of three-and-outs," Caldwell said. "Some of those things need to fall into place."
The Colts also committed eight penalties for 55 yards, and Caldwell said those hurt, particularly early in the game.
"There are some things you know you need to work on as well," Caldwell said. "We certainly had more penalties than we're accustomed to having, particularly at the start of the game. It put us in a little bit of a hole to dig our way out of. We probably missed more tackles than we've missed."
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning led the first-team offense to touchdowns on two of their first five possessions, completing 8 of 15 passes against the Bills for 91 yards and a touchdown with an interception. Backup quarterback Curtis Painter, four days after throwing three interceptions in a 37-17 preseason-opening loss to San Francisco, completed 5 of 6 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, achieving a perfect rating of 158.3.
"I think that much like anything else, it is a process and it is a long journey," Caldwell said of Painter. "Oftentimes we as coaches have an opunity to see things develop underneath the surface that aren't quite evident on game day. I think you'll see that he will continue to improve.
"That was certainly a good start and something to build upon. He played well, and we anticipate that he will keep getting better."
The game Thursday also marked the return of safety Bob Sanders.
Sanders, the 2007 Associated Press National Football League Defensive Player of the Year, missed all but two games last season with injuries. He played throughout the first half and had two tackles.
"He got his feet wet," Caldwell said. "It was good to see him back out there. I think he ran around well. I think for his first time out he did OK. His standards are pretty high, but I do think he did all right for his first time out."
Caldwell also said the running game showed improvement Thursday.
The Colts, who ranked 31st and 32nd in the NFL in rushing the past two seasons, rushed for 58 yards on 24 carries in a 37-17 preseason-opening loss to San Francisco. They rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries Thursday.
Javarris James led the Colts with 29 yards on eight carries, while first-year running back Devin Moore had 26 yards on six carries. Starter Joseph Addai rushed for 13 yards and a 17-yard touchdown on two carries, with second-year veteran Donald Brown rushing for 23 yards on four carries.
"I think you can see that we ran the ball a little better," Caldwell said. "That was quite evident. Joe had a couple of nice runs, and Donald had a couple of nice runs. Devin had a couple of nice runs. We had a number of guys who punched it up there pretty good.
"We still have a long way to go. We blocked a little bit better. We got some things done in the offensive line on some plays in terms of assignments, getting some things done a little bit better this week that we didn't do last week.
"We're encouraged by that, but we also understand that we have to work."
The Colts played Thursday's game without center Jeff Saturday, left tackle Charlie Johnson and guard Kyle DeVan, each of whom started all or much of last season. Caldwell said even with the absence of such front-line players, evaluation can be made.
"You can certainly evaluate and make a comparison: 'How did we do last week as opposed to this week?' he said. "We got better. And we anticipate that will be the same thing that will happen this week as well. That's our goal and aim."
The goal, too, for this week is to come as close to a regular-season routine as possible.
The Colts typically play starters a series or two in the first preseason game, a bit more in the second, then use the third preseason game as a full-scale preparation for the regular season. That includes not only playing front-line players more than any other preseason games – typically into the second half – but practicing, preparing and game-planning in the same routine as for a regular-season game.
That, Caldwell said, will be the case this week.
"This is the week we will focus in on our opponent much like we would do in a game-week preparation," Caldwell said, noting that a major difference is the comparative lack of film of the Green Bay Packers, who Indianapolis will visit Thursday.
The Packers have played one preseason game and will visit Seattle Saturday night.
"We'll get that (film) when it comes in," Caldwell said. "It will probably be late, late (Saturday) night or early in the morning on Sunday. Our Sunday will be like our Wednesday practice and so on and so forth, leading up to game time."