Jim Caldwell was fired by new Colts general manager Ryan Grigson and owner Jim Irsay on Tuesday January 17th.
To be honest, I’m not shocked. This year the Colts went from perennial super bowl contender to the joke of the league faster than anybody could have realized. It was painful to watch them take the field, and not just because of the loss of Peyton Manning (a subject of discussion for another article). The defense was inept, the special teams looked horrendously bland, and the coaches looked about as lost as the players – perhaps they were wondering along with the rest of us how they made it to the NFL level.
Ok, maybe that was harsh.
But the glint of success wasn’t in anybody’s eyes. Nobody was hungry for a win. Sure, Peyton’s offseason neck surgeries put a sour note to the season before it even began, but the team was embarrassingly flat. That is due to poor coaching.
There are numerous different philosophies for coaching, some are players’ coaches, some remain distant from the team, others are brash, and still some rule with a cool dominance that demands respect. None of those philosophies were reflected in Jim Caldwell and his staff.
Caldwell almost pulled off a replication of Tony Dungy’s cool dominance during the Colts’ run to the Superbowl against the Saints after the 2009 season. This year, it looked like he was a B-list actor trying to play the role of Tony Dungy. Desperately trying to continue the pride that was established under his predecessor. Instead, he was finally reaping the rewards of not installing his own schemes and his own approach to the team.
The team faltered. The team stumbled. And, ultimately, the team collapsed. The Colts could get no traction under Caldwell.
So, finally, what does this mean for our beloved Jaguars?
Well, to be honest, it means a hole lot of bad. It means that the Colts are finally putting on their thinking caps and trying to revitalize a franchise rich with historical dominance. It means that Jim Irsay wants winner on his team, and he’s going to get them.
The first pick of this year’s draft will be Andrew Luck. Make no mistake, the Colts will hold onto Luck harder than a kid holding a teddy bear. They will groom him. They will baby him with brilliant coaching that could turn even this humble writer into a great quarterback.
With that strategy, there is no reason to think that in one to two years the Colts will rise like a rose of success from the ashes of defeat.
Sure, it will require some very good personnel moves. Sure, it’ll require some very good coaching. But here the Colts have an advantage the Jaguars don’t: they’re building from nothing. In Caldwell they got a poor imitation of success and hope. They failed. And they failed hard. In contrast, the Jags are trying to go from mediocrity to great success. Are there lessons to learn from the Jack Del Rio era, yes. But he didn’t fall as far or as quickly as Jim Caldwell.
The Jaguars had better take the Colts seriously from here on out, much like they did under the Dungy/Manning combination. Houston may win another division crown, Tennessee may contend occassionally, but really it comes down to the race between the Jaguars and Colts and who can rebuild the fastest and the strongest. The respect the league over for the two organizations should swell in the coming years. It’s going to be a brutal pair of contests each year. And in the end, it may come down to who plays the other better.
Can all this be seen from the firing of Jim Caldwell? I think so.
The Colts didn’t have hunger to start the season. The entire team is being reassembled. In the shambles of what they used to be, only one figure, Jim Irsay, has remained a cornerstone from which to build around.
And he’s got a nasty glint in his eye.
- Luke N. Sims