INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts started this season with one goal: winning another Super Bowl.
Now they are a victory away from a championship and headed back to the site of their previous one.
No, the plans haven’t changed much from Indy’s last post-season trip to Miami. This week will be spent putting in a game plan, and next week, first-year coach Jim Caldwell is taking a page right out of Tony Dungy’s playbook. The Colts will stay at the same hotel, practice at the same facility and follow almost the same routine that they did before beating Chicago in the rainiest Super Bowl on record.
“We’ll change some things. We’ll tweak them and adjust them a little bit, according to how we envision some things, and it depends on what happens to us this week,” Caldwell said Monday. “We’ll make some adjustments, it’s not an iron-clad sort of routine. But, overall, we’ll probably be fairly close to what we’ve done previously.”
Some of the changes are not by choice.
Four-time MVP Peyton Manning and his Pro Bowl teammates, who include Dallas Clark, Dwight Freeney and Reggie Wayne, are expected to be in town Sunday afternoon for a pre-game news conference — a full day before the rest of the Colts arrive.
Team president Bill Polian called that rule “distasteful” and a “fiasco” on his weekly radio show Monday night.
Indy’s team plane also is expected to arrive a little earlier than it did three years ago because of new rules implemented in 2008.
But with nearly half of Indy’s roster having Super Bowl experience, Caldwell will rely on his veterans to help younger players cope with the countless distractions of the next two weeks. Players, like fans, are scrambling to make travel plans, fill countless ticket requests and answer all kinds of email and text messages. Caldwell said he had about 250 email and more than 150 text messages after Sunday’s 30-17 victory over the New York Jets.
Pro Bowl centre Jeff Saturday offers some advice.
“Make a list of how many tickets you’re going to have, set a priority, and tell them the tickets will be there at will call when you get there. Let them find their ways down, because it can become a madhouse,” he said. “Truthfully, it falls a lot to our wives and family members who help us out. It can get anybody stressed.”
Preferably, the Colts (16-2) would like everything resolved before returning to practice Wednesday.
The reason? Once Indy reaches Miami, Saturday recalls, players will study film and do additional prep work for the Saints (15-3) in unfamiliar surroundings or hotel rooms. New Orleans is in the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.
Another possible problem: Most people who come to town want to vacation or party. But the Colts have a job — completing a mission deemed so essential they threw away a chance at perfection to win a title.
So the Colts don’t want anything derailing their plans.
“I guess it is kind of a relief that we’ve made it, but we’re not satisfied just being here,” left guard Ryan Lilja said. “We want to win, we want a ring, and that means you shouldn’t be hanging out on South Beach on Saturday night.”
Indy’s leaders will make sure that does not happen.
Among those singled out by Caldwell were Freeney, Manning, Saturday and Wayne — all of whom are likely to treat this trip like the business trip they made to Miami in February 2007.
“Hey, we’ve got three months to hang out after this,” Saturday said. “You can hang out on South Beach for three months if you want. But we have a job to do first.”
And it’s that attitude that Caldwell believes will make a difference on game day.
“The ultimate goal is to win it all,” he said. “Nobody is going to be satisfied until we do that.”