Indianapolis Colts: Why a Win Does Not Get Jim Caldwell off the Hot Seat
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On Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts finally learned how to play football.
The way they played was not pretty. Formations broke down, receivers ad-libbed patterns, Dan Orlovsky scrambled around and Donald Brown ran against the grain more than once, but they managed to take this chaos and use it to their advantage. The Titans were unprepared, and, on more than one occasion, looked as if they were the team that was 0-13.
However, this success can hardly be attributed to anyone other than the players.
The coaching staff has not pulled its weight at all during this season, and at the head of this is Jim Caldwell, who was facing a possible firing if the team could not win one game. It seems that, with the win, he may have relieved some of that pressure and can breathe a little easier.
Caldwell can take a majority of the blame for this season, and Indy needs him gone.
The Handling of the Quarterback Situation
So do I
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We all remember the fiasco that occurred as soon as the lockout was over. Manning had neck surgery on May 23rd of this year and was expected to be able to rehab over the offseason. However, with the lockout, he did not have the same access to the rehabilitation facilities that he should have had. As a result, he was not ready for the season.
He then had to get a spinal fusion on September 8th, leaving the Colts without their fearless leader.
However, we have seen other teams overcome losing their starting quarterbacks. Heck, the Patriots just did it a couple of seasons ago. The general fan sentiment was that Colts wouldn't win the division, but they could still be competitive and win a couple of games.
No one expected the absolute chaos that would follow.
At first, Curtis Painter was expected to get the start. Then, owner Jim Irsay started tweeting that the team might be interested in signing Brett Favre, creating a controversy that was just unnecessary.
A few weeks later, the team announced the signing of Kerry Collins, the recently retired former Titan. This was completely out of left field, as the team—Caldwell included—had backed Painter as the next quarterback. Certain players, including receiver Reggie Wayne, were noticeably upset by the signing, but the coaching staff did nothing to stop the tension, and the team started the season on the shakiest feet it had in years.
A proficient coach may have continued to back the man he had supported for years, especially without Painter even having the chance to prove himself. But Collins came onto the team and got all first-team reps.
For a team that seemed to have a legitimate insurance policy at its most important position, the Colts instead appeared stunned to realize that Manning could ever be hurt. The team was a mess, and it was evident throughout the early portion of the season.
Once Collins suffered a concussion, he was put on the injured reserve list. Painter came in as the starter.
Now, Painter is bad. We all realize that. But Collins was worse. Plus, Caldwell seemed to think it possible that Collins could come in without a training camp and without multiple preseason games and perform at the highest level.
He did not and perhaps cost the team a couple of victories early on.
Dan Orlovsky, previously with the 0-16 Lions, is now the starter. He has actually not had a horrible season, as he has a QB rating of 85.9 at this point and has won the team their first game.
However, do we not think that, had things been handled differently, the Colts could have gotten a better quarterback, or saved the Collins money and stuck with the guys they had on the roster?
Had Caldwell backed his players or tried to get another quarterback earlier in the preseason, or even said anything that allowed the fans to know that he cared about the team, he could make a case for his job.
He did not, so he cannot.
This is the most emotion you will ever see Jim Caldwell have on the sideline.
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This one speaks for itself, really.
The Colts are 1-13 this season. They have had one of the easiest schedules in football this season, with their opponents having a combined record of 120-103. The team has fallen apart at the worst times in games, making them the least competitive team in the NFL. For a team coming off of a 10-6 season with a division title, this is inexcusable.
Seeing as how it is quite possible that they will lose their next two games (especially because they are against two teams, in the Jags and Texans, that they already have lost to), the Colts could finish with the worst record in the league, and be unanimously declared the worst team since the winless Lions of 2008.
The head coach's responsibility is to keep his team together and to win football games.
Caldwell has done neither.
The team's spirit is generally crushed in the opening moments of the game, and Caldwell is not charismatic enough, nor a proficient enough game-planner, to keep his team's head in the game. He is the leader of the team and he has been leading his troops to their doom almost every single Sunday.
There is always a bright side, however. There are two good things about finishing in this position:
1. Andrew Luck
2. A different head coach next season
The Horrible Calls
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Every Colts fan remembers the wild-card playoff game against the Jets last year. The Colts were up 16-14 in the waning moments of the game, and it looked like time was just about to run out on the Jets' season.
Then, a timeout came in. From the Colts' sideline.
It made no sense then, and it still has no logical purpose for being called. Even Peyton Manning was shaking his head on the sideline. The timeout gave Mark Sanchez enough time to complete another pass, making Nick Folk's field goal practically a chip-shot from 32 yards out.
These types of calls are standard for Caldwell. This is the most profound of them all; but after watching any Colts game, you are left with more than one "Wait, what did he just do?" moment.
The Colts have one of the worst offenses in the league right now, averaging 15.1 points per game. For an offensively-based coach like Caldwell, this is inexcusable. He seems unwilling to change his game plan, and with a defense that allows 28.2 points per game, there is only one question left to ask:
What is Caldwell actually good at?
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Jim Caldwell is one of the nicest men in football. He is well-spoken, unwilling to shoulder blame onto anyone, and is just a good person.
Unfortunately, that does not mean you are cut out for a job as a head coach.
I'm not sure what he can do to be better. Frankly, it may be a little late to start trying to correct things. The Colts are much better off if they cut ties with him at the end of the season and start anew with another coach (Jim Tressel is a member of the staff, after all).
Jim, I respect you as a person. But please, take your "coaching" somewhere else.
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