BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 11: Head coach Jim Caldwell of the Indianapolis Colts (L) looks at Peyton Manning #18 (R) on the sidelines during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
The pressure is rising in Indianapolis.
So far the Colts have shown no real indication that they will fire coach Jim Caldwell or that his job is in jeopardy. That being said, after the announcements by the Dolphins and Chiefs that both teams will be going in a new direction with a new head man, Indianapolis may be forced to act and do so quickly.
If the Colts are sincere about keeping Jim Caldwell, today's firings are a moot point. But if the Colts were planning a more wait-and-see approach, they might not have the luxury of time. Preeminent head coaches don't last long in the NFL as evidenced by the Dolphins and Chiefs decisions to make moves now to ensure they have the first crack at landing one of the three highly coveted candidates on the market in Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher and Jeff Fisher.
Of course there are a lot of good coaches out there, but these three guys are the biggest fish and Kansas City and the Dolphins are both hoping to make big splashes.
For Miami the front runner seems to be former Titans coach Jeff Fisher which is particularly bad news for the Colts.
Currently Fisher makes the most sense as Gruden has indicated he wants to stay on with ESPN as a broadcaster for Monday Night Football and Bill Cowher wants a better quarterback than Matt Moore and more institutional control than GM Jeff Ireland is likely willing to hand over.
Like the Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, Colts owner Jim Irsay has shown he is willing to spare no expense to improve the Colts. However, so long as the Polians are in charge in Indy, the Colts will have the same issues over power sharing as the Dolphins, a dilemma which would take Cowher out of the equation as well. Gruden was once interested in coaching Peyton Manning, however after the 0-13 nightmare and the questions about Peyton even coming back, it's probably safe to assume the job is less appealing.
Unless Jim Irsay is willing to cut ties with the Polians or Bill Cowher would be willing to accept a lesser stature, it comes down to Jeff Fisher. We all know Fisher respects the Colts (or at least Peyton Manning), but will he want to coach here? More importantly, will he be available?
Personally I have always respected franchises who allow their coaches to play out the season and try and turn it around. Cutting coaches midseason is usually rash and the threat of being fired too often undermines the coaches authority anyway.
That being said, it looks like today's firing with just be the beginning of franchises looking to start anew. Along with Kansas City, Miami and Jacksonville who fired coach Jack Del Rio last month, Minnesota, St. Louis and The Giants or Cowboys (whichever misses the playoffs) all could be looking for new head mans as well.
The Colts cannot afford to go through the motions for three more seasons if other teams are already cleaning house and going after the top available coaches.
Jim Irsay needs to keep a watchful eye and be ready to act if necessary (if he thinks Caldwell can't get the job done) in order to guarantee the Colts find their guy and lay the foundations for a better future.
Even were the Colts to stick with Caldwell as Bill Polian evidently wishes they will, the Colts will at least be in the market for a defensive coordinator.
One such candidate would be Kirk Ferentz, a guy who has built strong defenses at Iowa and given the Colts track record with the Hawkeyes, knows Indianapolis well.
He too though is being courted by the Chiefs, another indication that the ripple effects may already be occurring.
Whatever direction the Colts choose to take, they must do so now while they still have all their options and all the prime candidates are still available.
Irsay, Polian and co know what they are getting with Caldwell and company. Three weeks won't make a difference in terms of scouting and development, but it may make a huge difference in the direction of the franchise.
The Colts are on the clock.
Who will be the head coach for the Colts next season?
Jim Caldwell (169 votes)
Bill Cowher (147 votes)
Jon Gruden (82 votes)
Jeff Fisher (217 votes)
Another current NFL head coach (71 votes)
A current assistant (139 votes)
A current college coach (10 votes)
835 total votes