Colts Must Turn Disappointment into Determination, Caldwell Says
INDIANAPOLIS – As Jim Caldwell sees it, panic is pointless.
Caldwell, in his second season as the Colts' head coach, said while the Colts have lost three of four games – and though there are areas that must improve following a prime-time loss to San Diego Sunday – the approach will be about fixing what went wrong.
That means working on details. And fundamentals.
It doesn't mean worrying.
And it certainly doesn't mean being desperate.
"Right now, all of us are disappointed," Caldwell said Monday, a day after a 36-14 loss to the Chargers at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday night.
"We have to rearrange that. Today we have an opunity to look at film. We have to change disappointment into determination. That's what we do most often, what we do well.
"We're a resilient group and we're going to have to display that this coming week."
The Colts (6-5), who will play host to the Dallas Cowboys (3-8) Sunday, lost a second consecutive game to remain in a first-place tie with Jacksonville in the AFC South. The two teams are a game ahead of not only the Houston Texans, but the Tennessee Titans.
"It's a disappointing time, but it is what it is," Colts cornerback Kelvin Hayden said. "The season's not over, so you have to continue to work, continue to fight and try to get this thing rolling."
Caldwell, speaking at his next-day press conference Monday, said the Colts – who have made eight consecutive playoff appearances and who have won six of eight AFC South titles – being in first place is something that will be discussed this week.
"We still control our own destiny," Caldwell said. "We still have an opportunity to reach our No. 1 goal, and that's the thing we try to focus in on. What we're looking at is the next game. We haven't been eliminated from anything at this point in time.
"We're not necessarily worried about what the record is at this point in time. We'd like it to be better. But what we have to do is look forward. We can't look back."
Caldwell said the week will be spent not dwelling on disappointment, but addressing issues and continuing to improve.
"We get to the root of the cause," Caldwell said. "We don't necessarily try to sugarcoat things. We have to be able to deal with them directly and solve the problem. It's not all the same thing. It's not all the same exact situation that occurs that causes them. Those are the things we have to address.
"It requires work. We just have to be steadfast in that commitment."
The Colts on Sunday committed five turnovers against the Chargers, who turned the takeaways into 20 points – including two touchdowns on interception returns.
Peyton Manning, the Colts' 10-time Pro Bowl quarterback, completed 31 of 48 passes for 285 yards and a pair of touchdowns, with his six-yard touchdown pass to rookie free agent wide receiver Blair White 22 seconds before halftime pulling the Colts to within two, 16-14.
"Oftentimes that position gets too much credit and in defeat, it gets too much blame," Caldwell said of Manning. "There are a lot of other things that go into it. There's route-running. There's pass protection. There are timing issues, making sure guys are in the right spot, things of that nature.
"There's so much that goes into it. We're not in the business of pointing out and saying, 'This was the problem on that particular one; this guy didn't do that right.' It really all falls on my shoulders.
"I just have to do a better job of making certain we're executing a lot better."
The Colts' defense held the NFL's top-rated offense to 301 yards and limited San Diego to no third-down conversions on eight attempts. They also held them to one touchdown on five trips inside the red zone, and the lone San Diego offensive touchdown came early in the fourth quarter.
"I still believe in that old adage, 'You're never as good as you think you are when you win, and you're never as bad as you think you are when you lose,' particularly when you look at the film," Caldwell said. "Turnovers distort your view. They really do.
"Because when you look at it, our defense played hard. They played tough. They held that team and made them kick five field goals. That's a pretty high-powered offense."
Turnovers also were critical offensively, Caldwell said. The Colts are minus-two in the NFL in takeaway-giveaway ratio, a category in which they typically rank among the NFL's top teams. They are tied for 17th in the league in turnover margin this season.
"They just stop drives," Caldwell said. "And not only did they get the turnovers, but they also scored on them as well, so it didn't give our defense a chance to step them. For the most part, the things we had problems with were technical things – technique and fundamentals. We just have to get better in that area.
"We've got to get back to the right track in that area, which I think we can do."
The Colts did not practice Monday, and will return to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center Wednesday to begin preparations for the Cowboys.
"We'll get an opportunity to look at the film, go over and cover our mistakes – things of that nature," Caldwell said. "But we're not going to take them out (on the practice field)."
The Colts played Sunday without not only tight end Dallas Clark, wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez and safety Melvin Bullitt – each of whom is out for season on injured reserve – but running backs Joseph Addai and Mike Hart, linebackers Gary Brackett and Clint Session, safety Bob Sanders and wide receiver Austin Collie.
Addai has missed the last four games, with Brackett and Session missing the last three. Collie has missed two of the last three games.
Caldwell said it was possible a number of injured players could return to practice Wednesday.
"It appears that way," Caldwell said. "Who that will be remains to be seen. That (the Dallas game Sunday) has kind of been one of those games that we've kind of earmarked where a number of guys were going to have an opportunity to be available at that time. We'll see how that pans out."