- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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The buzz is growing that the Colts are going to stick with Jim Caldwell as their coach.
I think if new general manager Ryan Grigson retains Caldwell it will be in large part because owner Jim Irsay convinced him to. If Peyton Manning is back, having Caldwell and the offensive staff in place will make things far smoother. But continuity is a hard thing to sell as relevant when the thing you're looking for carryover from is branded with a 2-14 record.
As Wilson points out, there will be a giant fan backlash.
The Colts can’t make a decision based on that. But with a chance for 2012 to be a fresh start, they have to know that sticking with the coach who was at the helm for a disaster won’t be well received at a time when they could make a move and regain a great deal of support.
Caldwell takes too much grief, I believe. He had more to do with the Super Bowl run in his first season that he gets credit for. The 10-6 record the following injury-plagued year was a big accomplishment. The biggest thing going for him now is that he held together a team that should have burst like a piñata at a 5-year-old’s birthday party.
But consider this: Irsay has said that Caldwell has admitted mistakes in coaching hires and clock management. With a franchise that was under the thumb of Bill Polian, the coach didn’t have a ton of decision-making power. And in two big departments -- hiring and managing a game, he failed.
He also failed to alter the Colts’ approach dramatically enough when it became clear what they could not be without Manning. And he consistently stood in front of a microphone and talked about how Curtis Painter was improving when everyone knew he was not. Dan Orlovsky should have replaced him sooner.
That’s a long list of errors that, when weighed against holding a team together and being a good man, would seem to sway the scale against him.
If the team announces in the next couple days that he’s staying, I hope Grigson and Irsay will talk about how those things come to balance in their judgment.
And if Caldwell’s back, I hope he loosens up in the post-Polian era and proves to be a better coach.