Colts head coach Jim Caldwell addresses the New England media during his conference call, on Wednesday, November 17, 2010.
Q: You guys have dealt with a lot of injuries this year. How has that affected your team and what has been the attitude in the locker room?
JC: Obviously we've adapted. I think that's the thing we talk about and follow through on. We've had some pretty key losses, but we don't use any of that as an excuse. You just have to depend on guys who are next in line to be able to step up and perform, and we've been able to get that for the most part.
Q: What kind of difference does Patrick Chung make in the Patriots defense, and what kind of growth have you seen from him since last year?
JC: Obviously he's an impact player. He covers the field well, he's got really good instincts, and he's extremely tough. I think when you have that kind of combination along with the sophistication of their defensive structure; you've got a guy who sets a great tone for them.
Q: Do you see the Patriots using Chung in some of the roles they used Rodney Harrison in?
JC: The two guys that they have back there, both he and [Brandon] Meriweather, are both guys that are very active guys. They're physical guys, and I see a little bit of [Rodney] Harrison in both of those guys.
Q: This has been such a great rivalry. Does this week have a different feel to it then most regular season games?
JC: Every week is a big week for us. I think that most of you guys know that and certainly understand that extremely well. What we do is try to prepare for the next opponent, and obviously this is one that the competition between the two teams goes back a while, even back in the Baltimore days when they were in the same division. They played each other twice a year and I'm certain the competition has been keen. We've played most of the games in November. Both teams have been playing fairly well at that juncture during past years, and the games end up being significant games just from the standpoint that they're so competitive. It's still only one game in the grand scheme of things, but it's one that is highly competitive.
Q: Do you look at this as a measuring stick game, or is that just our hype in the media?
JC: What we do is we look at it as an opportunity to play against a great football team, and we just have to get prepared to play. We don't add anything extra to it. It's our next game, it's the most important game that we have right now, and it's the one that we're focused in on.
Q: Peyton Manning in the early going against coach [Bill] Belichick defenses didn't have the type of success he had against most teams. What has changed for him against a Belichick defense?
JC: I probably can't speak to exactly what you'd like me to speak to. The past is the past. It doesn't have anything to do with this coming Sunday, and that's the thing that we focus in on. We don't necessarily have to deal with the past, that's up to you guys to write those stories and make your own analysis of what occurred, and what hasn't occurred. I think that coach [Bill] Belichick is one of the best in the business at what he does, and he presents a challenge to anybody that he faces. We're no different. What we have to do is prepare to handle all the different things that they're capable of giving you.
Q: What's the likelihood that you'll have some of your guys back this week, particularly Joseph Addai and Austin Collie? Do you know that yet?
JC: I know that they're trending in the right direction, that's all I can tell you. It's day-to-day with each of them.
Q: What has Aaron Francisco done filling in at safety? What has he been able to do, and bring to your team?
JC: He's played a significant role for us. The great thing about it is the fact that he'd been with us before. [He] has a good feel for the system. Certainly the verbiage was not something that confused him at all. He caught right on to where he had left off and continued in terms of his progress. He's been able to step in for us and really give us solid play. He's one of those guys that pick things up quickly and he's been a real positive force for us.
Q: Could you talk about the progress of your first round pick, Jerry Hughes? It didn't seem like he was playing that much in the beginning, but it seems like he's played a little more as of late. What kind of progress have you seen?
JC: He's making good progress. I think often times what happens in terms of evaluation from the outside, from the external point of view, is everybody expects the first round draft pick to be an immediate impact player that gets in there right away and does some things for you. In our particular case he's backing up some outstanding guys that play the position. He's had an opportunity to learn and develop. The big thing about guys in his spot is that he has to learn what works for him in this league against the competition. Dwight [Freeney] probably about mid-season of his rookie year had the same type of growth. Jerry's is maybe not as quite as steep as Dwight's was, but he's coming along and you can see he's making certain contributions for us, not only at his given position as a rusher, but also on special teams as well.
Q: Obviously you've been with the Colts for a long time, but last year was your rookie season as the Head Coach. How much more comfortable do you feel this year as the head coach and what kind of lessons did you learn last year that you've been able to apply this year?
JC: Being comfortable is not part of my verbiage because this position doesn't allow you to get comfortable. There are always changes and it's a very challenging position. I remember one of the guys I worked for years ago used to say, 'it takes all you have and a little bit more.' I think that's the case from week-to-week because of the fact that you deal with so many variables. But that's also what makes it fun and challenging. It's a real challenge, year-to-year it changes and this year is much different for us than last year, but nevertheless our guys are hanging in there and it makes you draw up on different skill sets and this particular position you better have a few of them because with things the way they change, and the competition within this league, and how close everybody is from a talent standpoint it makes for a real interesting week starting the course of the season.
Q: What is it about your team, your organization that allows you to plug in guys like Blair White and Jacob Tamme and have them be impactful, and have them be contributors?
JC: I think number one you have to certainly point to our personnel department. They do a great job of getting guys that fit the system that they understand exactly what kind of individuals we're looking for from an intellectual standpoint. [Guys] that learn quickly, that can watch by doing, that don't necessarily have to get reps, and when they do get an opportunity they get in and can perform. You have to certainly give some credit to the coaches on our staff that do a great job of getting those guys ready and getting them ready in a hurry. Also, don't discount the fact that we have a pretty solid core of veteran players and the transfer of information from our veteran players to those guys that have not played much just in terms of how we do things, the little things makes a huge, huge difference. And also the culture is such that we just don't make excuses for injuries, we don't make excuses for setbacks, or anything of that nature. What we do is try to find solutions and find them in a hurry.
Q: What role does Peyton play in that process of acclimating guys like White and Tamme? It seems like he's been doing it for years now.
JC: I think there's no question about it, and that's what I meant when I mentioned that we do have a good core of veteran players and the transfer of information from one to another is key. Certainly Peyton does that. He does a great job of bringing those guys along, getting them to where they're supposed to be just in terms of timing of routes, things of that nature. But all the little things, [like] spending extra time with them. He works extremely hard when we have to bring a guy in, we try to catch up and you can't. There's just no way you can actually catch up and do everything that we've been working on since the spring because our offseason is so important to us. That's where we get our timing down, that's where we get all the little nuances taught, and then you do those throughout the course of the year. But the bulk of the work is done prior to the season. What we require is guys like Peyton, guys like Reggie [Wayne], guys like [Gary] Brackett, [Antoine] Bethea, all of those guys spend extra time with those young guys and help us get them ready to go.
Q: What difference have you seen in the Patriots offense, if any, since Randy Moss was subtracted from the equation?
JC: All I know is they they're still I think the number one scoring offense in the league, or up there near the top somewhere. They're probably one or two. They're very effective. They certainly score a bunch of points and move the ball extremely well. [They've got] one of the finest quarterbacks in the league and one of the great coaches in the league so they really haven't missed a beat.
Q: There once was a thought around here that Bill Belichick was in Peyton Manning's head. Is that something that you guys ever bought into?
JC: No, sir.