Caldwell, Dungy say Colts coach controls lineup


On Thursday, former Colts cornerback Justin Tryon claimed that he would have been a starter if it were up to coach Jim Caldwell.  Tryon’s contention opened a can of worms regarding the question of whether Caldwell has the power to set the lineup.

Caldwell says he does.

“Well, probably without being boastful or seeming as if that I’m reacting to that particular statement, but I can just tell you that if I wanted him to start, he would have started,” Caldwell said, per the Indianapolis Star. “If I wanted him to here, he’d still be here, plain and simple. I’m not going to carry on a back-and-forth, you know, because the young man did a good job for us while he was here and I hope he’s able to land with someone else.”

Caldwell elaborated, in a transcript distributed by the team.  “I don’t think I’m different than anyone else in this league in terms of a head football coach,” Caldwell said.  “You always say there’s always sort of a three-pronged sort of a decision-making progress.  All of us have an opportunity to talk about different issues, and we can certainly express our opinion.  But in players and dealing with players on the field and that sort of thing, that’s my decision.  I get the ultimate decision there in that regard.  That’s the way it’s always been.”

Former Colts coach Tony Dungy echoed Caldwell’s position.  “I promise you the Head Coach of the Indianapolis Colts makes the decisions on who plays and what is done on game days,” Dungy said via email to PFT.  “That’s the way it has been done since Jim Irsay has been in charge.  That’s the way it was done when I was there.  And I have talked to Jim Irsay enough in the past three years to know it is still being done that way. ”

Caldwell isn’t concerned that the controversy will affect his authority within the confines of the locker room.  “I don’t think so,” Caldwell said.  “I’m not one of those individuals that worries about that kind of stuff anyway.  I think our guys have been around me long enough, and they have a sense and they know that I have a process that we take them through.  Without getting explicit, I don’t think anybody has any questions about where they stand and also about perception of where I stand in this organization as well.”

Tryon’s comments likely resonated a bit because the quiet, low-key Caldwell finds himself sandwiched between a very strong personality in the front office (Bill Polian) and a very strong personality at quarterback (not Kerry Collins or Curtis Painter).  But while plenty of teams use a structure in which the G.M. gets the players without regard to whether the coach really wants them, it would be surprising, to say the least, if any NFL team doesn’t let the head coach decide who starts and who plays.  Though it wouldn’t be unusual for others in the organization to give input or ask questions, one of the most fundamental jobs of a coach is to determine which of the men he coaches will be relied upon to perform.

17 responses to “Caldwell, Dungy say Colts coach controls lineup

  1. If they keep on sucking as hard as they have so far this season, Caldwell may want to pass the buck on to Polian.

  2. Caldwell isn’t concerned that the controversy will affect his authority within the confines of the locker room. “I don’t think so,” Caldwell said. “I’m not one of those individuals that worries about that kind of stuff anyway…”

    Then why even address this with the media and give such a detailed explanation if you aren’t worried about it? Why not give a one sentence response?

    I’m sorry, I still don’t buy it. Caldwell doesn’t have that much juice in Indy. Manning and Polian have the juice. Indy can spin it anyway they want to, but there is some truth to the comment that tyron made…

  3. What it sounds like is Caldwell didn’t want to be the “bad guy” for cutting Tyron so said something like “I’d start you if I could” when in fact he could have started him all along.

  4. So CALDWELL and not POLIAN decided to wimp out on going for 16-0? Recalling how angry some of the Colts players seemed when that happened, I find that hard to believe.

  5. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Yes, Caldwell has a stoic look about him, but he is one of the most intelligent, well-read and articulate coaches in the league. He’s not clueless. Quite the contrary. He took a team that was decimated by injuries last year to the playoffs. He took the team to the Super Bowl in his first year. This team brought in a QB (personnel decisions like that are NOT his call, but Polian’s) a week-and-a-half before the regular season began. Collins’ first three games were essentially his preseason and it showed. I fully expect this team to rebound, post a 5-6 or 5-7 record by December and Manning to return to try to finish the season with another playoff run; the Colts’ 13th in a row. “Fans” who have little-to-no knowledge of Caldwell are the ones who are clueless. Colts 27, Bucs 17

  6. @p31 squared: your pom-pom nonsense might sell on, but out here in the real world, it is laughable. Caldwell is one of the least astute coaches in the NFL, and is clearly the beneficiary of the Peter Principle. If Dungy hadn’t picked him internally to replace himself when he retired, he would not be a HC in the NFL. As for your prediction of Colts 27, Bucs 17, thanks for defining ‘clueless’ for us.

  7. As everyone has long suspected, it is the clubhouse custodian who makes all the big decisions for the Colts team.

  8. ….it would be surprising, to say the least, if any NFL team doesn’t let the head coach decide who starts and who plays.
    Unless your name is Al Davis

  9. Just because thinks were one way while Tony was there does not mean it is the same while Caldwell is HC. Chances are pretty high that Caldwell, the QB coach, would never ever have the opportunity anywhere else for the HC position. So he does get his orders form Polian and gladly.

    Second, nice of Tony to speak up for his friend. However, Tony had spent a lot of his time in Indy turning the other way and having a blind eye to Bill Polian. He knew how his co workers were being treated and many of the unfairness and he just pretended he did not see it. BUT he knew and he KNOWS now how it works there and it has NOTHING to do with Jimmy Irsay.

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