In reading the Star today I found two very differing opinions on Coach Cadwell's performance. The first was from Bob Kravitz who in his weekly report card (ok, ok, it was too painful to read Monday morning) said the following:
D This is going to be a supreme test for this coaching staff all season. They did a marvelous job last year, keeping the team afloat through all the injuries. But this is going to require an epic coaching job, not to mention smart timeouts. Sorry. Couldn't resist. Without Manning, Caldwell and his group are going to have to fashion an offense that takes advantage of Collins' skills, not to mention improve the defense and the special teams.
While he still took a shot at Cadwell for his infamous timeout, which may have cost the Colts the season, he seemed to imply that Coach Caldwell was responsible for holding the team together and guiding them to the playoffs. Now I am not a Caldwell hater like many others, but a 'marvelous job' comes across as slightly overstated given he still had #18 to lead the offense.
On the flip side of the coin was Phillip B. Wilson's remarks. In his Colts preview for the Colts Week 2 matchup with the Browns, Wilson wrote the following:
Because it’s life without injured QB Peyton Manning, fans are wondering if Colts third-year coach Jim Caldwell gets a pass or will he soon be on the hot seat if he can’t salvage the season. Is his 24-9 record more the product of one player? The Browns have a new coach in Pat Shurmur. The lockout meant a steeper learning curve for a new system, and it’s shown. EDGE: EVEN.
Ouch. That is about as stinging an indictment as Mr. Wilson could have given. Now we all know he has never been a big Caldwell fan, but saying Coach Caldwell is no better than a rookie first year head coach whose team was bumbling and stumbling around the field takes the contempt to a whole other level.
Where does Caldwell stand?
Somewhere between the two. It's true Caldwell never really got enough credit for 'keeping the team afloat' last year but he also greatly impeded the team in the Super Bowl and last year may have cost the Colts the game against the Jets with that stupid timeout.
Is Caldwell even with Shurmur? No offense to the rookie coach, but we better hope not. Caldwell probably ranks somewhere in the 12-20 range for coaches. He certainly has a good record in his two seasons and took the Colts to the playoffs. Plus he did indeed overcome a lot of adversity last year with 673 guys on the IR, but how much of that was his rather than Peyton's doing?
Both columnists are right in saying that this year will be Caldwell's big test. If he wins 10+ games (quite the stretch) he is a lock to continue coaching for as long as Peyton is around and beyond. That would indeed be a miracle. If the Colts win somewhere between 6-8 games, Caldwell will probably be back but have a volcano of pressure mounting beneath him. 5 wins or below and its hard to imagine Caldwell isn't sacked faster than Kerry Collins was last week.
Without SuperManning around to bail him out, this year more than any other will define Jim Caldwell as an NFL coach.