As the loses mount, the calls for the head (figuratively speaking, not literally) of Jim Caldwell and his coaching staff will grow louder and louder. He's already lost the fanbase and people in local Indianapolis media. Now, the national guys are squawking that Caldwell should be fired.
Adam Schein of FOX Sports and SIRIUS NFL radio has covered the Colts for a while. He's a New York guy and, for me, I think his analysis and observations of the franchise have been fair and knowledgeable. Thus, for me, when Schein starts openly chirping that a coach like Jim Caldwell should be fired, then that coach probably should be.
I’ll just go ahead and write it: Jim Caldwell should be the ex-coach of the Colts when the season is over.
I take no pleasure in writing that. Caldwell is one of the most decent people you will ever meet. And it isn’t his fault the organization was ill-prepared for 2011 and Peyton Manning’s health. But Caldwell is a bad head coach.
For schmucks like me, I say go one step further and purge the organization of anyone with the last name 'Polian.' We all know Caldwell wields very little power over his roster (Schien alludes to this later in his article), and that all key decisions in this organization start and end with Chris and Bill.
Knowing that, how is this 0-6 start not the fault of the Polians?
I think Schein is correct in tacking some of the blame on Jim Caldwell. He is the head coach, and the head coach is ultimately responsible for the team winning and losing games. If the team is bad, he IS to blame. Comes with the job, fair or not.
The added knock against Caldwell is that he seems to serve no purpose or function within this organization. What does he do? What does he add? How does he help the team win? It's pretty clear that, after this 0-6 start, the answer to all these questions is 'not much.'
Schien elaborates on this:
What are his skills? Why should he stay on in Indy? If you disagree with my take, enlighten me on his strengths. His in-game management has always been suspect, starting with his disastrous and goofy clock management at the end of the playoff loss to the Jets last year that had Manning shaking his head from the sidelines.
He is supposed to be an offensive coach and a quarterback guru. Have we seen that? His winless team has appeared flat and uninterested.
One 'silver lining' I noted to Peyton Manning's injury back in early September was that it would provide Jim Caldwell an opportunity to prove he is a real head coach.
The perception was that Peyton Manning coached this team. It didn't matter if that perception was the truth or not. In the NFL, perception is reality, and Manning's injury was Caldwell's chance to shine as a coach. Great coaches do their best work in times of adversity. Examples: Bill Belichick and Tony Dungy in 2008. Both had to deal with quarterback injuries and inconsistent play on defense. Their combined records that year were 23-9 with the Colts making the playoffs and the Patriots narrowly missing the post-season with an 11-5 record.
For Caldwell, I don't think anyone ever expected him to be the next Belichick or Dungy, but it's pretty clear now that he is not qualified for an NFL head coaching job. 0-6 with this roster is unacceptable. Doesn't matter if Manning plays or not. Jim Irsay did not give big contracts to Dwight Freeney, Antoine Bethea, and Gary Brackett just to have this franchise lose to the Browns, Bengals, and Buccaneers. If this team were young and $25 million under the cap, I could understand struggling to win.
This team's core is veteran, and the front office has a lot of money invested in supposed 'star' players. A decent coach should get two wins out of this group in six games. A great coach three or four. Caldwell has gotten zilch.
This was Caldwell's chance to shine, and he blew it. The perception that Peyton Manning is both quarterback and coach is no longer perception. It's fact. It's as much a universal truth now as water = wet; sky = blue; BBS = mad genius.
OK, the last one isn't the truth... yet.
People like Bill and Chris Polian can go on radio shows and rail all they want against 'the media' and how they and fans don't know what they're talking about when it comes to evaluating Jim Caldwell. Doesn't make a bit of difference. The verdict is in on Caldwell. He stinks as a coach, and if the Polians want to save their own skins, they must scapegoat him for this season.
Caldwell made sense [back in 2009], despite his awful showing as a college head coach, because when you employ Manning, continuity is key. Dungy wanted Caldwell to replace him. The great Bill Polian wanted someone to nod. It all seemed logical, three years ago. It was the right appointment.
The Colts now need to look into the crystal ball. Is Caldwell the right man to usher in a new quarterback, maybe even Andrew Luck? Is he the right person to tell Manning that his time is up? Is he the right person to inspire and pick a system for the post-Peyton Colts?
The 2012 Colts need a fresh voice. Change is inevitable by 2013. Be proactive, improve the head coach and do it at the end of the year. It will be the best thing to happen to the franchise.
Again, all of you were given a head's up that we at Stampede Blue would beat this drum loudly and often, but simply firing Caldwell (while the correct move) does not fix the franchise. This team is not anything close to Super Bowl contention. Simply bringing Peyton Manning back next year likely has this club going 10-6 and losing in the first round of the playoffs... again.
Been there. Done it.
The goal is to either be competing for or building towards championships. Playoffs are a given. If Jim Irsay wants to model the Colts after the New York Yankees, then it should be utterly unacceptable that this club is 0-6. You think the Steinbrenner family would be all goofy and whimsical on Twitter if the Yankees started winless the first month of the baseball season?
'The Bronx is burning' wouldn't be a simple book title anymore if such a start occurred.
If the goal is to compete for rings, then the people who must be held accountable are the Polians. Simply firing Caldwell is scapegoating the head coach for the failures of the front office. Personally, I'm not into that. My desire is to fix the problem, not band-aid it. The people responsible for this disaster of a season are the ones who work above Jim Caldwell, and just like Bill Tobin in 1997 (the G.M. whose Colts roster started 0-10 that year), the Polians should also get 'the axe' at season's end as well.
If this franchise is to truly have a 'fresh voice,' as Schein correctly says it needs, then that is impossible as long as the Polians are in charge. They rule with an iron fist, and should they fire Caldwell (and they will, write it down) they'll replace him with another coach that does nothing but nod. Regime change is needed if this organization is to get back to being one of the best in football.
Right now, it's a dumpster fire.