News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 5, 2010

Colts in new position at 0-2 in division

Tom James
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts are still trying to find their mojo.

After Sunday’s 31-28 road loss to AFC South rival Jacksonville, the Colts are 2-2 for the National Football League season heading into Sunday’s home matchup with a 3-0 Kansas City Chiefs team.

Indianapolis is 0-2 in the division after losses to Houston and the Jaguars. It’s safe to say that the Colts are a little frustrated and are trying to find an answer as to what is ailing them.

“Just inconsistent. Up and down. We’ve got to stop that. We’ve got to be a more consistent team. We’ve got to be the team that we have shown and that we can be,” tight end Dallas Clark said after the Jacksonville game.

“We’ve got to keep doing our job. Everybody’s got to take it upon themselves to improve that. We can’t take weeks off. We can’t look good one week and then come back and look mediocre. It’s our job. We’ve got to come back every week and keep improving.”

With a team that has such an experienced veteran base, there is no panic within the squad. There is concern however.

“We have the players. We have the plays. We just have to go back and minimize our mistakes,” running back Joseph Addai added.

The Colts’ problems have come on both sides of the ball. Mental and physical errors continue to crop up.

Indianapolis had two key turnovers deep in Jaguars’ territory on Sunday. One was an interception when a pass from Peyton Manning went in and out of the hands of rookie tight end Brody Eldridge near the Jaguars’ goal line in the third quarter. The other turnover occurred when wide receiver Reggie Wayne fumbled as he tried to stretch out for a potential first down in the fourth quarter.

Then there’s been the lack of a strong pass rush the last two weeks. The running game, as well as the run defense, has been inconsistent at best.

“One of the things that we’ve been experiencing is just so much inconsistency,” coach Jim Caldwell said Monday.

“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. But we’ve been rather sporadic. Maybe one side of the ball is clicking and the other side is not. We know where we are after the first quarter [of the season]. We’re a .500 team. I don’t believe that’s who are are.”

New surroundings — The Colts find themselves in unfamiliar territory heading into this week’s home game with Kansas City.

“The assessment [on the season] is we’re 2-2. It’s not what we want to be. It’s not what we set out to be. But it’s what we are though,” Manning said.

“We have to find a way to dig ourselves out of a hole. We are in a hole because we are behind in the division. We’ve lost two division games. It’s certainly disappointing. And on the road too. You have to be able to win on the road. We’re 1-2 on the road [this year] and that’s disappointing too. So we’ve got to go to work.”

The Colts have never been 0-2 in AFC South play since the division came into existence in 2002. Houston is 3-1 overall and leads the AFC South, followed by Tennessee, Jacksonville and the Colts all at 2-2. 

There is room for some solace, though.

In 2006, the season Indianapolis wound up in Super Bowl XLI (and beat the Chicago Bears in the process), the Colts lost all three divisional road games and were still able to win the AFC South crown.

Two seasons later (2008), Indianapolis started out 2-2 and went on to post a 12-4 record and finish second in the divisional race to Tennessee (and was an AFC wild-card playoff team).

“We’ve faced some adversity before and we’ve had situations where we’ve had to dig ourselves out of a little bit of a hole. We’re just going to have to [get back into division title contention] a little different way than we’ve done it previously,” Caldwell said.

The road ahead won’t be easy with the home game against an unbeaten Chiefs team that is coming off a bye. The Colts will then travel to Washington before having their own bye week on Oct. 24.

“Obviously, we still have a chance here to get things going in the direction that we want. We ended up the [first] quarter [of the season] 2-2, which is not where we’d like to be. Our charge is to make this second quarter much better,” the Colts coach said.

Kansas City has been one of the surprise teams in the NFL through the early portion of the season. But the Colts coach knows they’re for real.

“We certainly have our work cut out for us. We have to go back and certainly get ourselves in position to play a really, really good Kansas City team who’s coming off a bye week. We’ve got to go to work and zero in on them,” Caldwell said. 

Injury list — Sitting out Monday’s practice were wide receivers Pierre Garcon (hamstring), Austin Collie (heel) and Anthony Gonzalez (ankle); safeties Melvin Bullitt (shoulder), Antoine Bethea (undisclosed) and Bob Sanders (biceps); running backs Addai (knee), Donald Brown (hamstring) and Devin Moore (shoulder); offensive tackle Charlie Johnson (foot); and offensive guard Jamey Richard (shoulder).

Rookie safety Brandon King (hamstring), who has been sidelined the last two weeks, was able to take part in the workout.