|ESPN.com: NFL||[Print without images]|
“Colts defensive end Robert Mathis seemed surprised by the move, writining on his own Twitter account, "Irsay aint playing no games!" The search for a new coach is to begin immediately though neither Irsay nor Grigson provided a timeline for the hiring. "We just came to the conclusion that this is best moving forward for the franchise," Grigson said, referring to his first major decision in charge of an NFL team. "Mr. Irsay is the steward of this franchise and I'm here to help him wrap his head around these types of decisions. We've been in football our whole lives and a lot of it is about instincts." It's also about results, and Caldwell's were mixed. After winning his first 14 games, an NFL record for a rookie head coach, and becoming only the fifth first-year coach to take his team to the Super Bowl, Caldwell did a masterful job guiding the injury-plagued Colts through a plague of injuries and back to the playoffs in 2010. But those successes all came with Manning, who led the Colts to a league-record 115 regular-season wins in the previous decade and a record-tying nine straight playoff appearances. This season, without the franchise quarterback behind center, the Colts lost their first 13 games before winning twice in five days. Among players and coaches, Caldwell was universally well-liked. The list included Manning, who won all four of his record-setting MVP Awards with Caldwell on Indy's staff, as well as perennial Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday. "I think coach Caldwell has done a very good job. He has gotten the most out of his players, and we play hard for him each and every week," Saturday said before the season finale. "We haven't necessarily played well, we've made mistakes and done things, but they have, oftentimes, been things that we've talked about in coaching meetings." Outsiders often saw it another way. Fans frequently complained about Caldwell's game management, and some critics referred to Caldwell as a "puppet" of the Polians. Many never forgave Caldwell for pulling the plug on a perfect season in a Game 15 loss to the Jets in 2009 and pointed to the midseason firing of defensive coordinator Larry Coyer and the long delay in replacing Curtis Painter with Dan Orlovsky at quarterback as decisions that should have come much earlier. Irsay and Grigson did not characterize Caldwell's 1,099-day tenure the same way fans did, though it sounded as if they agreed with some points. "We want leadership. Leadership is important," Grigson said when asked about the characteristics he sought in a new coach. "We want strong leadership, and we want someone who shares his vision in this new era of Colts football. We want the best man and the best leader and the man that gives us the best way to go." Though it's unclear who the Colts may target, the possibilities could include Green Bay offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and perhaps Spagnuolo. The last time Irsay presided over such a massive housecleaning was after the 1997 season when he replaced Bill Tobin with Bill Polian, coach Lindy Infante with Jim Mora and quarterback Jim Harbaugh with Manning. It could happen again.
We want leadership. Leadership is important. We want strong leadership, and we want someone who shares his vision in this new era of Colts football.” -- Colts GM Ryan Grigson
on desired qualities in next coach