Finding Buckner: Crowning the Colts Scapegoat - Day 6

Jim Rogash

Every franchise has one - the player/fan/coach that kept you from getting to the top when you should have. In Boston it's Bill Buckner. In Chicago it's Steve Bartman. In Buffalo it's Scott Norwood. Who is the biggest scapegoat in Indianapolis Colts history? That hasn't been determined - yet.

If you missed it yesterday (you really should stop by more often... we miss you) you missed a revolt by the readers of Stampede Blue - and it was good.

That's right... I screwed up. I tried to lump all four contenders into one post and have one big vote.... oops. In all honesty, I didn't have much to add to the articles and thought folks would get bored re-reading about the same jerk they voted for two days ago. Boy, was I wrong.

And I'm happy about that. So... if you THOUGHT you voted yesterday for the Colts Scapegoat... Check again. I've re-posted the article as 'Day 5' and only had the match-up of Mike Vanderjagt vs. Hank Baskett and reset the pollster. Go make somebody (Vanderjagt or Baskett) miserable.

If you'd like a recap of how we got here check out Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 and Day 5 by clicking the links.

Today we are focusing on Jeff George and Jim Caldwell.

Let's stir up your anger again.


#2 Jeff George

Profile: Jeff George was an Indianapolis native and attended Warren Central High School. He was the first 'Gatorade National Player of the Year' and originally committed to Purdue University. George transferred to Illinois after his freshman year. The Colts traded up to select George #1 overall and signed him to the richest rookie contract in league history (at that time). George didn't respond well to fans criticism and asked for a trade out of Indianapolis. For his career, George passed for over 27,000 yards with 154 TDs and 113 interceptions while suiting up for the Colts, Falcons, Raiders, Vikings and Redskins.

Years with the Colts: 1990-1993

Best Moments as a Colt:

  1. Drafted #1 overall in 1990, Jeff George was the local boy who would put the Colts on the football map.
  2. George went 5-7 his rookie season, throwing 16 TDs and 13 interceptions despite being sacked 37 times.
Why he is on the list: Jeff George was supposed to be the Colts' savior. When George didn't live up to expectations the fans began to turn on him. The way he responded to the Colts and the city of Indianapolis has made him one of the most hated Indianapolis Colts players of all time.
  1. Jeff George, upset at the way he has been treated in Indianapolis by the fans, walks into GM Jim Irsay's office and demands a trade. Irsay warns George that he is committing 'career suicide' and George decides to holdout for 36 days, missing the beginning of the season.
  2. When George's head coach at Purdue was fired he warned Purdue that they had better consult him about to hire next. They didn't and George transferred to Illinois.
  3. After getting shutout in two straight games in 1992 fans began to boo. George said "Why do I get booed? Here's the honest answer: Because I'm good and I'm good-looking. That's number one. But number two is that I think people still remember the Purdue situation, and I don't think I'll ever live that down, whether I lead the team to a Super Bowl or I'm the top quarterback in the league."
  4. George was known for making rude gestures and blowing up at fans that were critical of him.
  5. When George was pulled from a game late in 1992 for Jack Trudeau he had a heated exchange with headcoach Ted Marchibroda on the sidelines. The Colts went on to win and while the rest of the team was celebrating, George said, "Ted made the decision. He'll have to live with the consequences."


Summary : After researching and re-reading a lot of the things that happened with Jeff George, I'm kind of surprised that he isn't the #1 seed. George further complicated matters by stating that he could fix the Colts offense in 2011 when Manning was out and petitioned to play quarterback for the team. Obviously, the Colts weren't interested. For more reading on the legend of Jeff George, check out this article from the SI Vault.

#3 Jim Caldwell

Profile: Jim Caldwell played defensive back for the University of Iowa before getting into coaching. His collegiate coaching career included stops at Iowa, Southern Illinois, Northwestern, Colorado, Louisville, Penn State and his first head coaching job at Wake Forest. At Wake Forest Caldwell's record was 26-63. In the NFL, Caldwell coached for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens. He has been to the Super Bowl three times as a coach (once as a head coach) and has two Super Bowl rings. His NFL coaching record is 26-22 including an impressive 14-2 in 2009 and an NFL worst 2-14 in 2011.

Years with the Colts: 2002-2011

Best Moments as a Colt:

  • Tony Dungy, one of the most respected men in Colts history, handpicked Jim Caldwell to be his successor in 2008 and officially handed him the reigns in 2009.
  • Jim Caldwell tied a franchise record with 14 wins in the 2009 regular season and has the best start of any head coach in NFL history by winning his first 14 games.
  • Caldwell becomes just the fifth coach in NFL history to lead his team to the Super Bowl in his first year on the job.
  • Why he is on the list:
    1. Following a 2-14 season (without starting quaterback Peyton Manning) Jim Caldwell is fired. Caldwell is criticized for not adjusting his gameplans to compensate for the loss of Manning.
    2. Against the Jaguars in 2010, with the game tied and Jacksonville seemingly willing to let the game go into overtime, Caldwell calls timeouts and allows the Jaguars to drive for the game winning field goal.
    3. In the playoffs against the Jets in January of 2011 Caldwell again calls a timeout, with the Colts leading 16-14, after New York seemed content to let the clock wind down and attempt a 51 yard field goal. After the timeout Mark Sanchez hits Braylon Edwards for 18 yards and the Jets win on a 32 yard chip shot. Peyton Manning shows clear signs of confusion and frustration on the sidelines after the timeout was called. This was the last game that Manning would play in for the Colts.
    4. At 14-0, and faced with the opportunity to become the first team in NFL history to go 19-0, Caldwell pulls his starters in the second half against the Jets. The Jets go on to win the game and some fans believe at that moment Caldwell lost the respect of the locker room. (Note: Blame is assessed to both Caldwell and Polian for this decision)
    5. Part of coaching is developing young talent and fans blame some of the failures of Tony Ugoh,Jerry Hughes and Anthony Gonzalez on Caldwell and his staff.

    Summary : The biggest knock on Caldwell was that he wasn't able to adjust his gameplan to fit his personnel. When Peyton Manning was down in 2011 there were no adjustments made on offense or defense to reduce the increased pressure on Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky or the defense - while in Denver, John Fox was gaining the respect of the league for completely changing his game plan to fit Tim Tebow. Another thing that always bugged me about Caldwell was his lack of 'presence'. Perhaps it's intangible but some people have 'it' and some people don't. I never thought Caldwell had 'it'. Could more Super Bowls have been won with a different man at the helm?

    I've made the case for each of them..... TODAY YOU WILL VOTE FOR GEORGE AGAINST CALDWELL - Who is the bigger scapegoat in Indianapolis Colts history?

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