The Colts opted not to extend the contract for their special teams coach Ray Rychleski yesterday. This is an NFL euphemism for 'You're fired!'
"I felt we needed to make a change and head in a new direction," Caldwell said in a statement. "Although the special teams unit made some improvement as the season progressed, it was not enough to continue our current situation. We appreciate Ray’s service and hard work during his three seasons with the team."
This is now the second assistant Jim Caldwell has fired in two months, and it doesn't make Caldwell look especially competent when both the assistants let go were people he handpicked. Caldwell dumped defensive coordinator Ron Meeks and special teams coach Russ Purnell when he succeeded Tony Dungy as head coach in 2009. Caldwell replaced them with Larry Coyer and Rychleski, respectively.
Two years later, Coyer and Rychleski are unemployed. Soon, Caldwell could join them.
It's worth noting that, unlike Meeks and Purnell, both Coyer and Rychleski were well-respected in their areas prior to coaching the Colts. Jim Irsay and others can call Coyer a 'bad hire' all they want. He was, by all accounts, respected in the locker room, and his resume as a defensive coordinator in Denver was very strong.
Coyer might not have been a good 'fit' in Indy because he feels that blitzing is the most effective way to pressure opposing QBs, but Caldwell and the Colts had to know that going in. If they didn't, Caldwell's an even bigger idiot than his critics have claimed.
Rychleski's resume was also strong, but almost exclusively in the college ranks. There is no doubt (at least, for me) that he improved the Colts special teams. He seemed more energized and focused on the task than Purnell ever was. It's also worth noting that it was Rychleski who pushed for the Colts to draft Pat McAfee, and it was also Rychleski who wanted McAfee on kickoffs.
I'll admit I'm a little partial to Coach Rych because of the interview I did with him at Super Bowl XLIV. I spoke to him several times in Miami. After I published the interview, he came up to me the next day and told me his girlfriend read the article and loved it. Nice guy. Good coach. I don't think it was his fault the outgoing front office simply did not care about finding quality special teams players.
I wish coach the best of luck finding a new gig, which I think he will in the college ranks.