Should Jim Caldwell have been fired by the Indianapolis Colts?
This post has been updated. See the note below.
Jim Caldwell was fired Tuesday after three years as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts following a 2-14 season without star quarterback Peyton Manning. Caldwell, who took the team to the Super Bowl after the 2009 season and back to the playoffs a year later, was the latest to be shown the door by the Colts this month, following vice chairman Bill Polian and general manager Chris Polian.
Should Caldwell have lost his job under such circumstances? Was is it time to change direction for a franchise that has a new general manager in Ryan Grigson and presumably will draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck as the top pick in April's draft?
Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and join the discussion by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.
Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune
Jim Caldwell was not the reason the Colts went from 10-6 and 2-14, so if he was fired for failing to win, he was fired for the wrong reason. If he was fired because he was part of the old Colts and the team wants to head in a new direction, that makes more sense.
Gone is Bill Polian, the man who hired Caldwell. In his place is new general manager Ryan Grigson, who undoubtedly wants to put his stamp on the team with a new head coach. It’s also at least possible that Peyton Manning will be gone, replaced by Andrew Luck. So Caldwell’s offensive system that was so important to Manning may no longer be necessary.
Caldwell wasn’t incompetent; he merely got stuck in a situation in which all of the pieces around him changed.
With a new general manager coming in, it was just a matter of time before Jim Caldwell was sent packing by the Colts. Does that mean this season's debacle was his fault? No. It means that owner Jim Irsay is heading in a different direction with a new front office and a new coaching staff. It also means that Caldwell didn't do enough in his three years to convince the owner that he should be a part of the team's future.
The real question is whether or not Peyton Manning will be next out the door. I would think the next coach wants the opportunity to work with one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time while grooming Manning's successor, Andrew Luck.
My guess is that Irsay tries to convince Manning to delay or renegotiate his $28-million bonus that is due in early March to keep him in Indianapolis. If he can't reach an agreement with Manning, the Colts will let him go, too.
When Irsay fired the Polians from his front office, the clock started ticking on Caldwell.
Joseph Schwerdt, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Until Jim Caldwell gets another chance to coach, there will be questions about whether he won only because he inherited Tony Dungy’s team or because he had Peyton Manning to run the offense. With Dungy gone three years and Manning injured, Caldwell couldn’t keep the Colts upright (2-14).
The same questions were asked about George Seifert and Barry Switzer. Did Seifert win because of Steve Young and with Bill Walsh’s team in San Francisco? He flamed out on his own in Carolina. Did Switzer win with Troy Aikman and Jimmy Johnson’s team in Dallas? The Cowboys were 6-10 his last season, four years removed from Johnson. He hasn't coached again.
Questions aside, the Colts appear to be cleaning the slate as they did in 1997 and Caldwell had to go. Vice chairman Bill Polian and general manager Chris Polian were the first to get fired. Now, despite owner Jim Irsay’s contention that Manning is there to stay, look for him to be the next Colt to ride out of town.
[Updated at 11:09 a.m.:
Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times
Very tough call, firing Jim Caldwell, even in light of this disastrous season for the Colts. He was widely respected throughout the organization and around the league, and he had the team playing hard in the worst of situations.
Still, cutting ties with him is the way to go if the Colts plan to start fresh with a new quarterback. This move indicates that the Colts are preparing for life after Peyton Manning, just as they replaced Lindy Infante with Jim Mora when they moved on from Jim Harbaugh and ushered in the Manning era.
Owner Jim Irsay, having cleared out Bill and Chris Polian, is rebooting in preparation for drafting Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. So in that sense, Caldwell had to go.]
Photo: Jim Caldwell. Credit: Michael Conroy / Associated Press