Colts tight end Dallas Clark said it made him "sick to my stomach" to hear about Owen Daniels' season-ending injury.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell and tight end Dallas Clark spoke to the Houston media via conference call on Wednesday. Here is a transcript of their respective interviews.
Colts head coach Jim Caldwell
(on if this is QB Peyton Manning's best start ever) "He's had some awfully great years around here. He's just one of those guys that somehow he finds a way to get better every single year. This year's no exception. The way he started the season obviously is something of note, where he's been able to put back-to-back games together that are a bit unusual. He's off to a great start, but the other year he threw 49 touchdown passes and he also had a great start as well. But the thing about him that makes him unusual is the fact that he goes out every single day trying to get better. I mean, not only on the field of play but also in the classroom as well."
(on the defense under new defensive coordinator Larry Coyer) "Obviously number one, I think everybody knows he's been around the league a bit and that he's an outstanding football coach, a very intelligent guy that does a great job of getting our defense ready and prepared. He, along with the rest of the guys on the staff, he's done a great job of kind of blending some of the things that we've done previously with some of his ideas as well and he's got everybody on the same page and believing in what we're doing. And so typically, we've done a pretty good job, but the thing about this league — the great thing about it — is that you've got to go out and prove it every week."
(on the Colts dominating the series 13-1 and if he worries about the Texans closing the gap) "Here's the number one thing: We don't consider anything to be a point of domination of anyone at any point in time because what happened in the past doesn't matter. It's the here and now that matters. We know one thing in that they're a hot team, they've won their last three games in a row, they improve every single week and they're very, very talented. So we've got our work cut out for us, that's what we're trying to focus in on is how in the world do we stop them? How in the world do we control (Texans WR) Jacoby Jones and the rest of the arsenal that they have. So that's the thing that we focus in on."
(on how hard it was for him to replace Tony Dungy as head coach) "I'm not certain that you ever replace—number one, he's a Hall of Famer, he's a guy that is revered and loved and respected a tremendous amount. The thing that I think you get into, a problem with, is if someone comes in and number one, you know, tries to be someone other than themselves. I can only be me. I've had 54 years of practice. And the other things is, he set such high standards in terms what we've been able to accomplish here in the past that I recognize and realize but I don't have to do it alone. You know, we have a great organization, a great owner that doesn't do anything but give us everything we need to win in terms of resources, a great personnel office in (president) Bill Polian and the rest of his staff and then also obviously great coaches and players. So thank goodness that they understand what winning's all about and they've developed a great winning culture here and all I have to do is try to build upon what Tony had established."
(on how important DEs Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney have been especially considering injuries in the secondary) "Regardless of what our secondary situation is or has been, those guys have always been extremely important to us. They've been able to maintain a level of play that's uncharacteristic between two guys that can really get up the field and pressure the quarterback and have come up with a number of big plays week in and week out. We have grown accustomed to expecting those kinds of afternoons that they typically have and they work to achieve them. They're guys that study their craft and certainly get better. So I think overall, regardless of who we have back in the secondary or what our problems may have been, or are, I should say, we expect everybody still to be able to perform and perform well."
(on the health of their defensive backfield) "I think like anything else, I don't think anybody in this league is ever completely healthy. We've got little bumps and bruises, but time will tell how we end up at the end of the week. So right now, it's a little bit early to give you any real, concrete information."
(on Texans LB Brian Cushing) "Two things: Number one, we had an opportunity certainly to look at him in the draft, in preparation for the draft, and know he's indeed an outstanding player. The things that we saw him do in college, obviously he's come to this level and been able to do the same thing. He's a very tenacious player that's big, strong, fast and does a great job just in terms of you can see he's very, very comfortable with his position. And he's a guy that we certainly have to contend with."
(on the recent success of the Texans defense) "I think, number one, they're a talented group. I mean, that goes without saying. (Texans DE) Mario Williams is still a force to be reckoned with, he's a guy that can get up the field and give you problems with speed or he can give you problems with power or gives you problems with length, and also in the run game as well. But they have a good—(Texans LB Brian) Cushing's doing well, (Texans DB Dunta) Robinson's back and playing well in the secondary, (Texans S Bernard) Pollard is a force. So all around, I think they have real fine talent and they've done a great job in terms of, schematically they don't try to fool you. They're coming to get after you if they want to or they're going to play coverage and play it solid, but they get their guys to the ball and they hustle and, you know, they're a tough unit."
TE Dallas Clark
(on what he thought when he heard about TE Owen Daniels getting injured) "Sick to my stomach. I was doing a radio interview with SIRIUS and they told me. I was at dinner with my family, I hadn't heard anything on any other games and they told me then. It just kind of shocked me. You don't wish it upon anyone, obviously, but especially a guy like him, he's just killing this year and just balling out and just making plays for his team and just doing so well. For that to happen is just awful, because he was just really doing a lot of great things out there."
(on if they ever take their great starts for granted) "I don't think so. I think we do a good job of understanding that you try not to think about things like that. So it's just kind of one of those things you don't talk about it too much. You try to act like it happens all the time, but everyone knows it doesn't because it's so hard to win three in a row in this league, let along whatever we're at. So it's just kind of one of those things that I think we do a good job and the coaches do a good job of really just focusing on one week at a time. We don't look down the road, we don't look to the past. I think we do a good job of preparing one week for a team, playing the game, watching the film afterwards, learning from it and then moving on and going on to the next challenge. So I think just the veteran group that we have, have been around a while, have done it a few times, kind of know what it takes. And so it's definitely something you don't want to take for granted, but you also know you haven't proved anything. You started off well, that's great, but there's a lot of football left to be played and a lot of big games coming up, so it's just kind of one of those things you take it one week at a time."
(on if QB Peyton Manning is playing as well as he has played) "I think so. I think it's one of those things that he has… whether he can take his game to another level, I didn't think he could, but he's obviously showing it this year. I think he's really doing a great job of getting us in competitive situations and good situations offensively with some checks and play calling. And then he's giving us a chance to catch the ball. He's making good decisions with it, something that he's always done, but for whatever reason, he might be just a little sharper here and there on a few things. But overall, he's really playing well and it's just a credit to his hard work and his preparation each week."
(on the young receivers stepping up and how much credit for that goes to Manning) "Some of it. Obviously, it helps having him kind of helping with little pointers and just trying to get on the same page, but they've got the rest of the credit. They're doing a great job of handling this offense, which no college offense will prepare you for this offense. And so for those guys to come in and take their hits, make their mistakes and not get frustrated and keep plugging away, I think those guys deserve a lot of credit for just staying on course, just staying consistent. I mean, they're making mistakes here and there, but tell you what, they're making plays out there as well, and that's the most important thing. I think they're learning a lot, and it's only going to help them down the road later in their career. I think it's tough for a rookie to come in here and not only understand the offense but be effective in it, and they're doing both for sure."
(on the Texans' defense playing well) "Yeah, they're playing outstanding. They're just your typical defense that they play head-up. They're not trying to confuse you with different fronts. They're your vanilla, they're going to line up and they're going to say 'Alright, come beat us.' And to do that in this league, you have to have 11 guys that know their role, know exactly what they're doing and working well together, and then when the ball comes, making plays, and that's exactly what they're doing and it's a credit to them and their hard work. They're physical, they're fast, they play together as a unit. It's not just one guy. They're not just waiting for (Mario) Williams to make a sack or anything like that. There's 11 guys that are working well together and have done a lot of good things this year."
(on to what he attributes their dominance of the Texans) "I don't know. There's a lot of things, but it's tough because each game was different, whether it was special teams or whether it was this or that. Each game kind of has its own personality and has kind of its big difference-maker, and I think just consistently, I think just them as a team learning how to win and finishing close games, and that's what they're doing this year. You've got to learn how to win in this league and you've got to learn how in the fourth quarter, a player or the offense, defense, special teams, a unit, has to step up and make some plays. And they've been falling short here in the last few years, but now they've got a team that is buying into the system, playing hard, playing with confidence and learning how to finish games. And I think that's kind of the difference between this team this year and the past years. They're just playing with a lot of confidence and they know how to finish games now."
(on LBs DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing) "Well, they're two physical 'backers that have a good nose for the football, and they're making plays and definitely do a lot of positives for their defense."
(on if it surprises him on film that Cushing is a rookie) "Yeah. He definitely is making some good plays, very ahead of the game as a rookie. Definitely doing some good things for them and definitely someone to be on the lookout for."