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Coach Jim Caldwell fired after Colts' worst season in 20 years

January 17, 2012 | 12:58 pm

Jim Caldwell

Jim Caldwell has been fired as the coach of the Indianapolis Colts, the team announced on its website on Tuesday.

The Colts suffered through their worst season in 20 years, going 2-14 without four-time MVP quarterback Peyton Manning, who missed the entire year after neck surgery.

It was a swift fall from grace for Caldwell, who led the Colts to a 14-win regular season and into the Super Bowl in his first year as head coach in 2009. The team went 10-6 the following year, marking the 11th time in 12 seasons it won at least 10 games and made the playoffs.

But all of that happened with Manning taking the snaps. Without him, the Colts lost their first 13 games of the 2011 season and tied for 29th of 32 NFL teams in points scored. In addition, Indianapolis surrendered the fifth most points in the league -- and Manning, of course, never played defense.

Caldwell has been taking his share of the blame for the disastrous season. A website called firecoachcaldwell.net features a petition for the coach's ouster with almost 6,000 signatures. A part of the team’s coaching staff since 2002, Caldwell finishes his three-year tenure as head coach with a 28-24 record.

The move signifies a time of transition for a team that had already fired vice chairman Bill Polian and general manager Chris Polian on Jan. 2. Ryan Grigson, formerly the director of player personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles, was hired as the Colts' general manager last week.

An even bigger transition may loom as well. ESPN reported last week that owner John Irsay is certain the team will take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the top overall pick in April's draft. Such a move might put Manning's status with the team in question.

Manning is 35 years old and a 14-year veteran. It remains to be seen how healthy he will be as he attempts to come back from the neck injury.

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-- Chuck Schilken

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

Photo: Jim Caldwell. Credit: Andy Lyons / Getty Images

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