Caldwell Says Consistency Key Moving Forward from Loss to Jacksonville
INDIANAPOLIS – As Jim Caldwell sees it, reality is reality.
Caldwell, in his second season as the Colts' head coach, said while a .500 record isn't ideal after the first quarter of the season, reality after a last-play loss in the division on Sunday is certainly that the Colts are 2-2 following the first four games.
But on Monday, he said something else is true:
There is a lot of time left in the season.
And .500 isn't where Caldwell or the Colts think they will be in the future.
"We certainly know where we are after the first quarter," Caldwell said Monday, a day after the Colts lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 31-28, on a 59-yard field goal by Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee on the game's final play.
"We're a .500 team, but I don't believe that's who we are."
The Colts on Sunday out-gained the Jaguars, 406-337, and also had 28 first downs to 20 for Jacksonville, but while the Jaguars scored touchdowns on all three of their possessions inside the 20, the Colts twice committed turnovers inside the Jaguars' 10-yard line.
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who has thrown 11 touchdown passes with one interception this season, completed 33 of 46 passes for 352 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Three times Sunday Manning rallied the Colts from seven-point deficits and with 48 seconds remaining, his one-yard touchdown pass to second-year wide receiver Austin Collie tied it at 28-28.
But on the ensuing drive, the Jaguars drove 36 yards on six plays, with Scobee's game-winning field goal the third-longest in NFL history to win a game on the game's final play.
"We just have to continue to work at it," Colts cornerback Kelvin Hayden said. "Right now, we're a .500 team, somewhere where we don't want to be, but it is what it is. We just want to get things corrected fast and have the sense of urgency we need to have."
Caldwell said despite the loss there were positives. The offense registered touchdown drives of 85 and 96 yards, and twice in the fourth quarter the Colts drove for touchdowns to tie the game. Caldwell said the special teams "had some spurts" and he said after the first half, the defense played "a little bit more like we're accustomed to playing."
"We just couldn't shut the door," Caldwell said. "I think overall we just have to continue to get better, continue to improve and become the team we know we can be."
How the Colts will be defined, Caldwell said, will depend on what they do the next three months more than what they have done the first four weeks. The NFL's better teams, he said, get better as the season continues.
"You find that teams throughout the year just continue to develop," Caldwell said. "We have to be one of those teams that continually improves. We have the opunity to do so. We just have to come out and go right back to work and continue to put it all together."
The Colts are tied with Tennessee and Jacksonville at 2-2, with the Houston Texans leading the AFC South at 3-1. Indianapolis has played three of its first four games on the road, and has lost two division games on the road – Sunday's game at Jacksonville and a 34-24 loss to Houston in the regular-season opener.
"We certainly don't use that as an excuse," Caldwell said of having played three of four games on the road.
Caldwell also said more pertinent than venue is the team's play on the field.
"What we've been experiencing is just so much inconsistency," Caldwell said. "Typically, we've been able to put back-to-back quarters together where we've played extremely well, and string them along for game after game after game. We've been rather sporadic.
"I think that has as much to do with it as anything. Maybe one side of the ball is clicking, and the other side is not. The inconsistent play has as much to do with it as anything else.
"Home and away for us – we've certainly been able to play well on the road and we've been able to play well at home. That's what we have to get back to."
The Colts also have sustained several injuries early in the season. Not only did left tackle Charlie Johnson and center Jeff Saturday miss the preseason with injuries, the Colts have played the last two weeks without wide receivers Anthony Gonzalez and Austin Collie. While Johnson missed last week's game with a foot injury, starting guard Jamey Richard missed Sunday's game.
"I don't think that ever comes into play, to be honest with you," Caldwell said. "We never use that, never focus on that line of thinking. Whoever is there is expected to play and play well. We always embrace those challenges, and we come out on the right side of the ledger.
"Right now, we have to make sure we get some solid, consistent play all across the board."
Also on Monday, Caldwell discussed his decision to call timeout with the Jaguars facing 2nd-and-2 from the Jacksonville 31 on the game-winning drive:
"What we look at is this: you never know if you're going to get the ball back in those situations. The big thing we try to look at is if we can get the ball back for our offense. Particularly if we're on the road, we don't necessarily want to go into overtime. If we can win in regulation, we want to give it a shot.
"The timeout in that situation ended up being probably about what we thought it would be. We wanted to make sure we had a third-down situation where if they didn't make it they had to punt the ball. It was there. We had opportunities there that last drive to get the ball back, but we didn't do it.
"You always reflect. You always think back. You always look at yourself first in terms of what you would do differently to try to learn from it, but we're pretty aggressive in those areas."