Ho boy. That Jim Caldwell, he sure seems kinda underwhelming lately, doesn't he?
While I haven't seen much in the way of supportive words for our team's HC on these boards this year, what I have seen is a lot of rampant speculation as to who will replace him. Names like John Gruden, Bill Cowher, and Jeff Fisher are the ones most bandied about, and certainly these are fine football minds that, I think, would provide a huge improvement over the joyless specter that currently stalks the sidelines in Indy blue.
Lets face it: This is Peyton's team. With the Wizard of Lucas likely to miss at least three months, and possibly the rest of the season after being on the business end of a cervical spinal column fusion, I feel that there is going to be an intellectual black hole calling the plays for this team going forward. I think it is becoming painfully obvious that Manning has been covering for Caldwell's glaring faults as a head coach ever since he took the reins over from Tony Dungy - this in spite of the Super Bowl ring-bling that Caldwell can sport on the right hand any time he chooses.
So I got to thinking: If the Colts fall flat on their faces this year, Caldwell is likely done as the Colts head coach. This begs the question of who will replace him? Many of you already believe that it will be one of the Big Three of Gruden, Cowher, and Fisher. While I would be more than okay with any of those hires, I worry that all three would come with some very large egos whose coaching styles might clash with Peyton Manning's opinion of "how things should be done." Is it silly of me to worry about such a thing? Maybe. But to carry the notion forward, I would like to present my own three names for your consideration, in order of my personal preference:
1.) Mike Zimmer, DC, Cincinnati Bengals - Ran a aggressive, speedy 4-3 defense in Dallas in 2003 that gave up the fewest yards in the NFL that year. He is widely regarded as one of the premier defensive minds in the NFL. His secondaries in particular show vast improvements when he takes the helm of a defense. He'll get us away from the Tampa-2 scheme, I should think, and into a more blitz-heavy one.
2.)Chuck Pagano, DC, Baltimore Ravens - Another keen defensive intellect who has done a good job maintaining Baltimore's reputation as a D-first franchise. Widely known for crafting his defensive schemes around the strengths of his players. Another coach who uses the base 4-3 defense, which means we would not be required to make major personnel adjustments should he take over the coaching duties next year.
3.) Bill Callahan, Assistant HC (O-Line), New York Jets - Callahan is an offensive specialist, unlike Zimmer and Pagano above, who knows a lot about crafting great offensive lines. Coached the Oakland Raiders to Super Bowl XXXVII in 2002 as a rookie head coach, though many would say that he soared to those heights on the wings of a machine that Gruden built. He has a proven record of crafting potent offenses, and we all know that the Colts already have a strong offense - I for one would love to see what he could do with our offense, especially after Manning (hopefully) comes back next season.
As an added benefit, I think any three of my picks for head coach would be happy to let Peyton be Peyton without the clash of egos - especially Zimmer and Pagano, who are primarily defensively oriented.
Well, that's my thoughts on the matter. I'll eagerly be reading your responses. Whatever happens this year or next, as always... Go Colts!