For the Colts, it's now the off-season. It sucks, but hey, whatcha gonna do. Part of football's great appeal is the promise of hope. Right now, all 32 teams think they have a shot in 2008.
Moreso than any other time, there are very few questions heading into this off-season, save the obvious: Will Dungy return? 18 to 88 seems to think he will. I said, almost a year ago, that 2007 was it for Tony D., who is still making up his mind as to whether or not he will come back. If he doesn't, Jim Caldwell will replace him. Irsay and Polian have both made it clear that Indy's next coach, regardless of whether Dungy leaves this year or not, is Jim Caldwell.
I, personally, am a-okay with this. Jim Caldwell is a bright, up-and-coming head coach. Why do I think this? Well...
AOL Fanhouse did a great write-up on John Harbaugh, the newly-hired head coach of the Baltimore Ravens and brother of Jimmy "Captain Comeback" Harbaugh. The subject of coaching "experience" was raised with Harbaugh despite the fact that he's been coaching in the NFL for years. He developed a dominant special teams unit in Philly, and last year coached the Eagles' defensive backs. Yet, despite excelling at coaching, Harbaugh is viewed as having limited experience while someone like Jason Garrett (one year as an offensive coordinator) isn't.
I agree, makes no damn sense to me either, and AOL Fanhouse's Ryan Wilson wrote this about the subject:
Hmm, let's see: [John Harbaugh] demands respects, holds players accountable, and he won't back down. Yep, I think this is the exact person Baltimore needs, the anti-Billick. Look, on some level, Xs and Os are overrated -- that's what coordinators are for. The head coach is responsible for all the things Reid cites, and Billick had, by most accounts, lost control of his team.
I've long felt that often many of these coordinator "guru" types are nothing more than ego-maniacal idiots who know more about scheming that actual coaching. Coaching is all about management: Managing people, schemes, ideas, schedules, training, teaching, development, etc. If you are unwilling or unable to look people in the eye and work with them, you should not be a head coach in the NFL. This is why people like Mike Martz, Brian Billick, and even Norv Turner are terrible head coaches. I know Billick has a ring and Turner is in the AFC Championship Game.
If you are going to look me in the face and say you'd be as comfortable with those guys as your head coach over someone like Tony Dungy, then I'll respond by laughing back in your face.
Like Dungy, Caldwell is outstanding at managing players and coaches. There is no harder player in this league to manage than Peyton Manning, not because he's lazy, selfish, or anything like that. Manning is a perfectionist, and he has very specific ideas about how to play his position, scheme the offense, coordinate substitutions, etc. You really have to know your crap if Manning is going to respect you, and other than Dungy, Manning does not respect a coach on the team more than Caldwell.
Also, Caldwell would likely continue with the same coaching staff: Tom Moore, Howard Mudd, Clyde Christensen, Ron Meeks, etc. Such continuity is rare in this league where continuity is everything, and each of these coaches are top notch. If Caldwell, or even Dungy, decides to make some coaching changes, then great assistant like Ron Rivera and maybe even Leslie Frazer are available. The cupboard is not bare, and even if it were, the grocery store is fully stocked.
So, if Jim Caldwell becomes our team's coach sooner rather than later, I don't expect any drop-off in team accomplishments on the field. Caldwell is a great head coaching prospect, and we're lucky to have him in the event Tony retires.