It is true what they say: Loses are never as bad as they seem. Granted, anyone who said wins are never as good as they appear was a fool. A 'W' is a 'W,' no matter if it's by 2 or 20.
This past Sunday, as the Colts embarked on their first regular season without Peyton Manning, many of us were interested in seeing how this team would respond to the lose of their 'coach on the field.' As I noted in this article last week, I personally was interested in seeing how head coach Jim Caldwell would handle the adversity. How prepared would the team look? What wrinkles would he add adopt in the gameplan? How would he lead this team, sans Manning?
The result was a 34-0 halftime deficit, the worst in Indianapolis Colts franchise history.
All three phases of the team looked sluggish, sloppy, and uninspired as they walked into the halftime lockerroom. Meanwhile, the Texans were armed with a great gameplan and, despite two turnovers by Matt Schaub, were able to effectively end the game before the start of the third quarter.
Just like last year, at the start of a new regular season, Jim Caldwell did not have his team ready to play. And, just like last year, he was embarrassed in Week 1.
After the game, Jerraud Powers talked about how the Colts didn't come out early with the right energy, and suggested that they found it in the second half. Personally, I don't but this. The second half was a formality, and the Colts, particularly the defense, had no pressure on them because the game was essentially over.
One thing I'd like to point everyone's attention to is how other coaches deal with difficult loses. Take, for example, Mike Tomlin of the Steelers. His team was utterly and thoroughly dominated on the road by their division rivals, the Ravens. After the game, Tomlin spoke of the Steelers accepting the lose and vowing to improve. He conveyed that he was not happy with the team's effort or the execution.
"It’s the coach’s job to have the team ready to go, and we weren’t ready …,"
After the Colts thrashing at the hands of the Texans, all Caldwell would mutter is the old 'Marathon, not sprint' mantra. He even smiled while answering a questions and reminded everyone that Houston dominated Indy last year, and it was still Indy that won the division.
The reality is last year was last year, and it means nothing now. Last year, the Colts had Peyton Manning. Now, they don't. Last year, the Texans defense was putrid. This year, it isn't (again, free agents can make a big difference).
I know it's just Week 1, and things might improve. But, if we are to keep with Caldwell's theme of looking back at last year as a guide, then I shall argue that last year, just like this year, Gary Kubiak out-coached Jim Caldwell during Week 1, and it's not like Kubiak is some kind of great coach. The man is fighting to keep his job this year. Last year, Peyton Manning bailed Caldwell and his staff out of numerous blunders. Last year, the Texans dominated the Colts defense and ran the ball at will, just like this year.
At some point, you have to expect the coach to correct the mistakes of last year, and if he doesn't, if you see the same, repetitive pattern of ineptness, how can the coach remain the coach?
Caldwell is now 1-2 in home openers, and very nearly lost the Week 1 game against the Jaguars in 2009, his first game as a head coach.
A good gauge for how dire things are for Caldwell is his former boss, Tony Dungy on NBC's Football Night in America. Dungy used his final two minutes on the NBC pre-game show prior to the Cowboys v. Jets game to talk about the Colts and how bad things looked. He brought up how certain players did not step up and perform in Manning's absence, and that it was not all on Kerry Collins. At the very, VERY end, Rodney Harrison stated that, once again, Jim Caldwell got out-coached. Those were the words he said: 'Out-coached.'
Shockingly, Dungy did not voice disagreement with that statement.