Compared to the Colts start last season, these first twelve games in the 2010 campaign have been tough for Jim Caldwell.
Part of it is his own fault.
The Colts were out-coached and out-prepared in Week One against the Texans, and Caldwell's dumb timeout late in the fourth quarter against the Jaguars in Week Four was a major factor in the team losing that game as well. It also doesn't help that roughly 20 players are on IR, with another five or so likely to sit out this weekend because they aren't healthy enough to play.
So, needless to say, Jim Caldwell is not in a chipper mood, according to FOX sports' Adam Schien [emphasis mine]:
Jim Caldwell was chippy and chapped when he joined us on Sirius NFL Radio Monday morning. There was no real hello. There no response to our wish for a Happy Thanksgiving. And if you are a Colts fan, that’s great.
Caldwell called the loss "gut-wrenching" and for a coach who doesn’t show a ton of emotion, that was refreshing. His team will be ready to play the suddenly hot Chargers on Sunday, a team that the Colts struggle with historically.
Well, part of the reason the loss was so 'gut-wrenching' had to do with the Colts starting out slow once again on the road, particularly their defense. In road loses to the Texans, Eagles, and Patriots this season, the Colts have started by going down early 13-0, 13-0, and 14-0, respectively. In all three of those games, the team has come out looking sluggish, tackled poorly, and displayed questionable effort.
While I agree that it is encouraging to see the oftentimes aloof and robotic Caldwell display a bit of emotion, Caldwell need only look in the mirror as to why this team has lost more than a few games they should have won this season.
Having the Colts ready at home is easy. This team, this season, always seems to get up for home games. It's the road games that players seem to not put as much vested interest in winning. If they did, things like tackling, effort, and consistency would not be re-occurring issues.
While I do not think Jim Caldwell is fighting for his job this season (yet), I will say that if the Colts miss the playoffs (currently, they are outside the playoff picture), it will be very difficult for Bill Polian and Jim Irsay to justify to the fans why Caldwell should be given another chance in 2011.
Despite starting his career with the Colts at 22-7 with a 2-1 record in the playoffs and a Super Bowl appearance, Colts fans in general are not warm to Caldwell. I certainly haven't seen many people around here rush to defend him when people question his in-game decisions or his sometimes silly explanations as to why the team is underachieving.
So far in his career, Caldwell is known as the coach who quit on an undefeated season and who was out-coached in the Super Bowl by the Saints' Sean Payton. Many around the league view him as anything more than an extension of Bill Polian. Others simply say 'Peyton coaches the team.'
If Caldwell wants to overcome those stigmas and be his own man, he needs to win a Super Bowl coaching these Colts. If he cannot get this 2010 team into the playoffs, and win in the playoffs, the screams for his firing, while candidates like Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, and possibly Jeff Fisher sit out there salivating at the chance to coach Peyton Manning, will grow louder.