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Jim Caldwell’s tough spot


When the Colts made the Super Bowl two years ago, coach Jim Caldwell was viewed as an accessory.  When they won 10 games last year with a banged up roster, there was some chatter Caldwell should lose his job.

Now Caldwell is seemingly stuck in a no-win situation.  Without Peyton Manning, the best the Colts can probably hope for is mediocrity.  Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star has an intriguing column Friday in which he looks at Caldwell’s difficult predicament.

“[Caldwell] is working for a franchise that has become mildly dysfunctional, the old we-speak-with-one-voice mantra turning into a cacophony of varying voices and disparate agendas,” Kravitz writes.

It’s a great point.  There is wacky owner Jim Irsay, breaking news on Twitter with obscure song lyrics.

There is Bill Polian, whose radio show seems like a weekly “State of the Colts” address. His son G.M. Chris Polian is the one ostensibly putting together the roster.   (Both Polians have struggled to draft lately, especially early.  That’s not helping Caldwell.)

There is Peyton Manning, who wields as much control over his team as any player.

Buried beneath all this noise is Caldwell, who doesn’t say much. His press conferences make Bill Belichick’s media sessions look like a Broadway show.  Caldwell is almost an afterthought.  None of this is fair to Caldwell, but that’s often the case for NFL head coaches.

This may be a no win situation for Caldwell.  If the Colts can win — even 7 games without Manning — perhaps then Caldwell will get his due.

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40 Responses to “Jim Caldwell’s tough spot”
  1. My Last Victim Escaped says: Sep 16, 2011 4:50 PM

    Caldwell seems like a cool coach. Too bad his team cant show up at least halfway for him.

  2. mike83ri says: Sep 16, 2011 5:06 PM

    Jim Tressel will be the head coach next year, if not sooner.

  3. sterilizecromartie says: Sep 16, 2011 5:08 PM

    Cmon Rosenthal… I’m a Colts fan and even I will admit Caldwell is a liability as a head coach. The mysterious timeout at the end of the Jets playoff game last year that cost them the game is all the proof I need to know he has no clue what he is doing out there.

    He brings absolutely nothing to the table and he wouldn’t have even been in consideration for that job if he wasn’t hand-appointed by Dungy. Even Caldwell himself knows he is in over his head without Manning.

  4. mrbigass says: Sep 16, 2011 5:10 PM

    Caldwell is nothing more than a figurehead.

    This team rises and falls with Peyton and Caldwell is just along for the ride……

  5. chowface86 says: Sep 16, 2011 5:12 PM

    The fact they havent signed BRETT FAVRE is absolutely asanine.

  6. rockhill32 says: Sep 16, 2011 5:13 PM

    Yeah it’s a no win situation. Literally.

  7. jbl429 says: Sep 16, 2011 5:15 PM

    The problem is that the Colts are not a very good team, and they haven’t been for a while, it’s just that having Peyton Manning as a QB has made up for a LOT of their shortcomings. They haven’t had a good defense in years! The best run their defense had was in the 2007 playoffs when they figured out for a short amount of time how to stop the run. Other than that, the defense has only played well im spurts (not coincidently those spurts were when Bob Sanders was healthy). Offensively, they had an O line who could keep Peyton on his feet long enough to find Reggie Wayne or Dallas Clark open. Peyton has been good enough to make up for a terrible run game, he’s called the offense himself, and he’s made WRs who would be average on other teams look great (Marcus Pollard, Brandon Stokley, Colley, Gonzalez, etc.)

  8. jbl429 says: Sep 16, 2011 5:16 PM

    correction: 2006 playoffs (January 2007)

  9. ravensfan4life52 says: Sep 16, 2011 5:18 PM

    Caldwell is the worst coach in the NFL

  10. badtimeoutcaldwell says: Sep 16, 2011 5:21 PM

    Hiw is it unfair to Caldwell? He’ll either prove he can coach and win 7 to 9 games, or he’ll validate what many already believe… That he’s a horrible coach who has been carried by Manning…


  11. sophiethegreatdane says: Sep 16, 2011 5:23 PM

    Peyton single-handedly saved this franchise from disaster. This was a team that couldn’t even sell out playoff games prior to Peyton. (Not that they had a ton of playoff games, pre-Peyton, mind you.)

    Gee, I wonder what will happen in the post-Peyton era?

    Irsay appears to be headed in the same direction as his crazy-ass father. Caldwell will be nothing more than an eventual victim of the Peyton-less Colts. Irsay will wonder why he can’t win with scrubs, has-beens, and never-was’es. The team is built to play from ahead with a big lead, then unleash Freeney and Mathis on the opposing QB’s as they try to pass to catch up. I’m all shocked that an Irsay-owned team couldn’t see beyond the obvious and prepare for a day when they would not have Peyton on the field (not to mention, let’s NOT give him $50 million dollars guaranteed until he throws a few more passes in a real game.)

    Regarding Caldwell: poor fella. But at least he got to ride Peyton’s coattails to a Super Bowl, like the rest of the team.

  12. tombrookshire says: Sep 16, 2011 5:28 PM

    Don’t blame the coach, blame the GM who refused to address the mortality of Manning and never got a decent backup QB. If the team goes south because Manning isn’t there, it’s because Manning was their only good player, and there was no one on the team able or good enough to step up when your best player goes down. Pitfall of building a whole team around one guy.

  13. texastornado82 says: Sep 16, 2011 5:29 PM

    If a team is relying so much on manning. Then the colts is put together completely wrong.

  14. xli2006 says: Sep 16, 2011 5:31 PM

    Love him, hate him, or indifferent about him…

    Caldwell has a better resume in 2 years than a long list of coaches have had in 5-10 or more.

    To compare, some Colts Fans have thrown the name Jeff Fisher around as a candidate who has just 3 Division Titles and 1 SB Appearance in his entire career.

    Caldwell has 2 Division Titles, 1 SB Appearance, and a 24-9 Record (72%) in 2 years. That also is including last year where the Colts were absolutely destroyed by Injuries and still wound up 10-6.

    That will all likely change this year as the team faces a serious and unique issue.

    Is he the right man for the job, not sure, but by no means has he done anything worthy of losing his job (yet). Even the Timeout against the Jets was a poor call, but there were 10+ chances the Colts had to avoid that being a deciding factor.

    Talk to the team though and you’re realize that many in the Locker Room thought he was a good successor to the transition from Dungy.

  15. oxycode30 says: Sep 16, 2011 5:32 PM

    “Obscure song lyrics?” Obscure maybe if you’re a 12 year old Bieber fan or if you think rap/hip hop is music but most of us are familiar with The Who or Pink Floyd. Maybe you, Rosenthal, should expand your library beyond klezmer music.

  16. rushmatic says: Sep 16, 2011 5:35 PM

    He seems like a nice guy. But…

    the only thing you have to know is, on his NFL Network “All I want is NFL Network” commercial, his was, “All I want is for Peyton to play another 10 years.”

    Nuff said.

  17. jpb12 says: Sep 16, 2011 5:43 PM

    He gets paid. A few million. More than the average American.

    So, no I don’t feel bad.

  18. cowboysfaninpatriotsland says: Sep 16, 2011 5:44 PM

    My friend is a Colts fan, he calls Caldwell “Radio”. Even at the Cowboys game last year, Colts fans wanted him gone!

  19. rambo08 says: Sep 16, 2011 5:48 PM

    How in the world did Jim Caldwell get a coaching job in the NFL? Take one look at his college record and it is amazing he was even considered.

  20. 11inthebox says: Sep 16, 2011 6:02 PM

    So if Im hearing you people correctly, the formula goes something like this:

    Bill Walsh and the rest of the Forty Niners sucked. It was all Joe Montana.

    Bill Belicheck and the rest of the Patriots sucked too. It was all Brady.

    Is that how it works? Sure sounds like it.

  21. surly1n1nd1anapol1s says: Sep 16, 2011 6:09 PM

    I’m really tired of Colts fans commenting how terrible he is as head coach. As the post correctly notes the recent draft selections have been qute poor. Imagine the team improvement if Tony Ugoh, Donald Brown, and Jerry Hughes were not selected. All seem to criticize his timeout call and I think it deserved. But the lack of diverse criticism suggests trouble providing other evidence. They’ve had dramatic staff turnover, a hothead GM, and an owner with mental and emotional instability. I’d say the Colts need a even-keeled and strong type to settle things.

  22. shanefu316 says: Sep 16, 2011 6:15 PM

    Caldwell’s teams at Wake Forest dropped several games to Div II opponents while he was there.

    This guy was Peyton Manning’s QB coach while Dungy was in charge, come on, as if that’s a real position.

    Keep tanking, there may be a little Luck at the end of the rainbow.

  23. depotnator says: Sep 16, 2011 6:21 PM

    No coach looks more lost on the sidelines than Caldwell. Anytime the camera pans to him, he has a ‘WTF’ look on his face. That look was matched by Manning when Caldwell inexplicably called a timeout last season as the Colts were trying to run out the clock. Many Colt fans count the days until he is replaced.

  24. souldogdave says: Sep 16, 2011 6:29 PM

    What, exactly, is his due? His QB is a better coach, calls his own plays.He’s had it pretty easy, except no ring in a while.Only one for Peyton?

  25. kevpft says: Sep 16, 2011 6:38 PM

    A request: no further defenses of Caldwell here without some accompanying description of what he actually brings to the team. W-L isn’t enough – they did that before he got there. He made it to a SB, but the Cowboys won a Super Bowl with Barry Switzer.

    So what does Caldwell bring to the team?

  26. NFLJunkie says: Sep 16, 2011 6:50 PM

    To compare, some Colts Fans have thrown the name Jeff Fisher around as a candidate who has just 3 Division Titles and 1 SB Appearance in his entire career.

    So flip the script. Give Jim Caldwell a bad/rebuilding lame-duck team that has to move to a new city two full seasons before it has a real stadium to play in or a real practice facility, and then give him another 12 years mostly playing in the same division as a team led by Manning in his prime, and the same conference as Brady in his prime, too.

    Does Caldwell make the Super Bowl more than once or win more than 3 division titles (and make the playoffs with three different starting QBs, including an older Kerry Collins) coaching the Titans in those years?

    I can’t get enough of a feel for the guy to tell, personally. But I don’t immediately think “heck, yeah” either.

  27. johnnylightning13 says: Sep 16, 2011 6:54 PM

    Dungy or Caldwell… Not much difference between them talent wise.. If it wasnt for Peyton, they would both be assistants somewhere..

  28. purplehayseuss says: Sep 16, 2011 7:11 PM

    You say that Tony Dungy would be an assistant without Peyton Manning? Tony Dungy was a great coach before Manning was drafted. Tony Dungy was the Mike Tomlin of his day. It was only a matter of time before Dungy topped the coaching ladder and won it all.

    As a Vikings fan, I dreamed that Dungy would stick in Minny. His detractors say that Dungy won the Super Bowl with the team that Gruden built, but lesser coaches would not have pulled it off at all.

    I have nothing against Manning at all; he’s the throwback QB every team wishes they had. But don’t take away from Dungy. Manning didn’t teach Dungy to coach.

  29. getweird4u says: Sep 16, 2011 7:34 PM

    im confused are you a colt fan or a bronco fan a real man would never be both?

  30. turtlehut says: Sep 16, 2011 7:50 PM

    Caldwell is riding the same train as Gruden in Tampa. Take a Dungy trained team to the Super Bowl (at least Gruden won) then start putting their personal mark on the team and the playoff run is over.

  31. popolover says: Sep 16, 2011 9:26 PM

    Caldwell was picked by Polian. He is and will tell you, the BOSS. He chose Caldwell cause he can tell him and does telll him what to do. Now we can all see Polian can’t coach. That is why he is bringing in Tressel. I also believe that Tressel is the next HC in Indy. t

    rambo08: If you really want to know how Caldwell got into the NFL: It was not his resume, just take a look at him. Tony brought him in. I agree that he really hasn’t coached while in Indy. QB coach in Indy, that is the easiest job in the NFL.

  32. popolover says: Sep 16, 2011 9:27 PM

    BTW – Polians if you want me to stop speaking the truth. Send me cash money!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. backindasaddle says: Sep 16, 2011 9:40 PM

    Jim Caldwell just does not have the ….”charisma”???? …. to lead. MANNING has been leading this team for many years……NOT the coach. Tony Sanctimony is a milk-toast alter-boy goody-two-shoes-dink who was always destined for failure. Tampa Bay proved it. Coach Milk Toast would never have won anything if not for Peyton Manning. Caldwell has even LESS leadership capabilities than Coach Tony Sanctimony. Does Jim Caldwell even have the ability to express emotion, enthusiasm, or passion of any kind?…..Does he have the ability to demand better of his players when they need a kick in the arsss……or scratch behind their ears when they’ve done good…..does his face EVER change????…..did he previously have a secret lobotomy that nobody is aware of?

    The Colts are toast.

  34. MichaelEdits says: Sep 16, 2011 10:02 PM

    George Seifert comes to mind. Caretaker coasting on Walsh’s fumes, then head of my Panthers during the highly dysfunctional Rae Carruth/Fred Lane/1-15 Weinke era. Caldwell is not as bad as all that, but he hasn’t done much yet to show he’s anything special as a coach. Maybe he will this year.

  35. CKL says: Sep 16, 2011 11:05 PM

    When the head coach is a problem, it’s really the GM or whoever hired him who is THE problem.
    Dungy may have recommended Caldwell for the job but he had no power to make that happen. Polian allowed that proviso to be put in Caldwell’s contract (“coach in waiting”). If Caldwell is a bad head coach, either Polian hired a bad head coach or he wants a yes man.

  36. pastabelly says: Sep 17, 2011 7:09 AM

    I agree that Polian is the big problem here. He used to be able to put the right complimentary players around Manning to go with a defense that included a few big play guys. The defense got old and no longer makes big plays and the offense was always Manning who made everyone around him better. Polian also mistakenly believed that the coach position was plug and play because he had Manning. WRONG!!! Hire yourself a real head coach. One of your former players like Harbaugh probably would have made for a great move for the organization,

  37. Topher says: Sep 17, 2011 11:01 AM

    The only thing that matters with Caldwell… and what the media have forgotten about that Colts fans are still enraged about.

    They Colts lost a playoff game as a direct result of his late game timeout tactics.

    That is bad enough, but a month earlier the Colts lost a regular season game in the exact same manner. His inability to learn from his mistakes would get him benched if he were a player.

  38. tommytd says: Sep 17, 2011 11:44 AM

    Couldn’t be happier that franchise has fallen on hard times although I feel bad about Manning’s situation. Maybe it’s time to rest all your starters again. LOL

  39. axespray says: Sep 17, 2011 4:06 PM

    Name me one all pro or even pro bowler that Bill Polian has drafted since …. idk, Reggie Wayne.

  40. Topher says: Sep 25, 2011 5:05 PM


    Dallas Clark. Robert Mathis.

    but your point is solid that the past few drafts have been poor.

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