from the fifth down, the New York Times football blog.
It feels odd to point out the deficiencies of a coach (Caldwell) who won his first 14 games, went to the Super Bowl in his first season, and has a regular-season record of 24-8. When you think of most modern N.F.L. dynasties, you think of the coach and quarterback – Montana/Walsh, Brady/Belichick, Bradshaw/ Noll, Starr/Lombardi, Aikman/Jimmy Johnson. John Elway did not win a Super Bowl until Mike Shanahan came in and insisted on establishing a running game.
An argument could be made that Manning is the offensive coach of this team. If that’s the case, then maybe Manning has too much on his shoulders. More than any quarterback, he’s in charge of his team’s offensive plan and execution.
Caldwell was outcoached in last year’s Super Bowl, but most of the blame for the Colts loss still went to Manning. Caldwell appears to be coaching like someone who is afraid to lose the game – not someone who is trying to win. In his defense, he was put in a difficult situation. He was a first-time coach taking over a team that already had a very strong leader. If he loses with Peyton Manning, he is viewed as a failure. If he wins with Peyton Manning, he’s only doing his job.
I think the Colts have to ask themselves whether they need to pair Manning with another strong leader. Not doing so could risk wasting the prime of one of the greatest players in N.F.L. history. Manning deserves better.