Can we finally recognize what Colts head coach Jim Caldwell has done this season in Indy?
If we remember, Caldwell became a punching bag for all of our displeasures when he pulled the starters in a Week 16 loss to the Jets. The 14-0 Colts would have no chance at perfection. We all sighed and tried to explain what we would do in that same situation.
But now, after his Colts physically beat that same Jets team to win the AFC and advance to the Super Bowl, we need to recognize the coaching job he has done this season in Indy.
Caldwell is a rookie coach, and I often find myself forgetting that when I look at this Colts team. Sure, they have Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney, etc. when it comes to big name talent, but what Caldwell has done in stepping in for Tony Dungy is not normal.
This is his team and despite the talent I just mentioned, he is the one who has to direct them through mini-camp, OTA’s, training camp and the regular season. He isn’t brash like Rex Ryan and he doesn’t have a big name like Bill Belichick, but what he does have is the best team in the AFC — and in football if the Colts take care of business in Miami.
Caldwell was very business-like yesterday afternoon following the AFC championship victory while the rest of the city of Indianapolis celebrated. Not many rookie head coaches would be subdued and act as if he just won a Week 6 contest. But Caldwell isn’t like most rookie coaches. He expects to win and for his team to advance.
I have a ton of respect for head coaches in the NFL because of the grind it takes to win on Sundays, the preparation and the idea that they hold the team together throughout a season. To say Caldwell walked into a favorable situation with Manning is fair, but to say that he shouldn’t be recognized for this team’s success isn’t fair.
Think about it, and think about the pressure he was under when he replaced Dungy — one of the most recognizable coaches in recent history. If he didn’t win — and win big — he would be considered a failure. We would talk about the talent he inherited and what not, and that is why I want him to get some credit now. Forget those ideas that “anyone” could win in Indy, because that is so far from the truth. It still takes coaching and respect from the players.
And now, Caldwell can get a ring in his first year on the job. That is coaching and that is doing the proper things from a leadership standpoint over the course of six months, and his efforts deserve to be noticed.
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