Friday, February 1, 2013

9 comments Jim Caldwell Should Continue to be Ignored

Jim Caldwell didn't deserve another chance to be an NFL head coach during the 2013 NFL season. Harsh, but true (in my opinion). Maybe "deserve" isn't the right word, but I understand why there wasn't interest in retaining his services. I don't really have a strong opinion on the Rooney Rule and minority hiring. I can see why the NFL would expand the Rooney Rule to the hiring of offensive/defensive/special teams coordinators and I can see why this wouldn't happen. Generally, I think teams should hire the best coach available regardless of race, but everyone probably agrees with that statement. One position I feel strongly about is that Jim Caldwell should not be an NFL head coach again in the next year or so. David Steele disagrees and thinks the genius of Caldwell has been drastically overlooked. If you made me list the top 10 minority coaches who deserve a shot at an NFL head coaching job, I know Caldwell wouldn't make my top 10 and he probably wouldn't make my top 15. David Steele thinks Jim Caldwell is muy fantastico though and doesn't mind going to bat for him while pointing to Caldwell's resume as the reason he deserved another NFL head coaching job for the 2013 season.

Let me start off with listing Jim Caldwell's record as an NFL and college head coach:

1993-2000 Head Coach for Wake Forest University:

1993: 2-9
1994: 3-8
1995: 1-10
1996: 3-8
1997: 5-6
1998: 3-8
1999: 7-5
2000: 2-9

That's a career record at Wake Forest of 26-63, including going a horrendous 12-52 in the ACC. So maybe the fact Caldwell isn't getting any bites as an NFL head coach is karma for lasting five seasons too long at Wake Forest. He was terrible there and Jim Grobe has proven a coach can win at Wake Forest, so it isn't the school that was the entire issue.

2009-2011 Head Coach for the Indianapolis Colts:

2009: 14-2
2010: 10-6
2011: 2-14

That's a career record at Indianapolis of 26-22, including 2-14 without Peyton Manning as his quarterback and with a declining number of wins each season. In fact, Jim Caldwell is 28-77 for a winning percentage of 26.6% when Peyton Manning isn't his quarterback. If David Steele is shocked that Jim Caldwell hasn't gotten another head coaching job in the NFL, he needs to look no further than Caldwell's career record without Peyton Manning as his quarterback. Simply put, Jim Caldwell hasn't shown he is capable at this point of being an NFL-quality head coach in my opinion. He has shown he is pretty good when he has Peyton Manning as his quarterback, but Manning has made a lot of coaches look good.

Six days before departing to the site of the Super Bowl, the Baltimore Ravens took the “interim” tag off of Jim Caldwell’s offensive coordinator title.

Considering Jim Caldwell had never been an offensive coordinator in the NFL, I (and others that I had read the opinion of when Caldwell was named offensive coordinator) was a bit suspicious of his ability to do the job. It turns out Caldwell did a pretty good job calling plays for the Ravens. Still, the fact he did a good job as offensive coordinator for half of an NFL season isn't enough to make him a prime candidate for a head coaching job during the 2013 season. If Caldwell does another great job of offensively coordinating the Ravens next year then his name could be back in the ring for a head coaching job in 2014. I wouldn't hire him, but I can see how he would get interviews.

There is still unfinished business involving Caldwell for the Ravens to address, though. Their next move should be to vote Super Bowl shares to the eight franchises who made it possible for Caldwell to return to Baltimore next season—and for them to be in the Super Bowl at all now. 

You know what, the Colts will be glad to pay the Ravens for having Jim Caldwell as their offensive coordinator since firing Caldwell led to Chuck Pagano being hired as the Colts head coach. Let's not get confused here, the Colts are doing very well after firing Jim Caldwell, and for a guy who is known for coordinating offenses and working with quarterbacks it doesn't seem Caldwell did a bang-up job of having the Colts backup quarterbacks ready to contribute during the 2011 season. Yes, Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovksy aren't exactly the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but more than just the quarterback position went wrong under Caldwell's watch during the 2011 season. There seemed to be a lack of leadership and direction for the Colts team. That starts with the head coach.

If not for them combining to completely whiff on the goals of the NFL’s Rooney Rule governing minority coaching hires, Caldwell wouldn’t be available to the Ravens.

Yes, it was these team's blatant disrespect for the Rooney Rule that caused them to not even give Jim Caldwell a token interview. As part of a massive conspiracy, these eight teams without head coaches were looking to satisfy the Rooney Rule with unqualified minority candidates as opposed to the qualified minority candidate who has led his NFL and college teams to a grand total of three winning seasons in 11 years of being a head coach. Forget Ray Horton, what team wouldn't Jim Caldwell? This is the same man who showed the tremendous leadership in allowing the Colts team to fall completely apart without Peyton Manning. Yes, when a Hall of Fame quarterback gets injured, things fall apart, but going from 10-6 to 2-14 is a mighty large fall that speaks to more issues than just missing Peyton Manning.

But these franchises made sure he wouldn’t. Caldwell didn't get a single interview for a head-coaching job.

The NFL’s loss is the Ravens’ gain. 

Yes, he appears to be a very competent offensive coordinator. We've all seen what Caldwell can do as an NFL and college head coach. Let's let his offensive coordinating career breathe a little bit before trying to hand him another NFL head coaching job.

All it would have taken is one team with common sense, vision and smarts—heck, with a computer to do a Google search of “Past AFC Champions”—and Caldwell would have been distracted from working with Joe Flacco and devising a postseason game plan, to do head-coaching interviews. 

Bill Callahan led the Raiders to a Super Bowl appearance, so does he deserve another NFL head coaching job? Not to take anything away from Caldwell, well no, to take something away from Jim Caldwell, he was given the keys to the Colts' car and basically told, "Do what Manning says and don't fuck it up." Manning got injured and anyone who saw that Colts team saw how lost the team looked. I'm being hard on Caldwell and for good reason. If he had a history of being a good head coach who can win games then I would be easier on him, but that's simply not the case. Caldwell didn't outwardly show the leadership abilities to help keep that Colts team together minus Manning. His work as the Wake Forest head coach was an abomination. One bowl appearance in eight seasons. That's not good. And yes, that is his record in college from the mid-90's, but it also goes to show the 2-14 season in 2011 isn't out of character for a Caldwell-coached team.

He only went to the Super Bowl once in his three seasons as an NFL head coach and won his division only one other time. Clearly, those two were flukes, and the year he went 2-14 with Curtis Painter and Kerry Collins at quarterback in Indianapolis indicated his true capability. 

I absolutely believe this is the truth when also based on Caldwell's record at Wake Forest. Caldwell has a 11 year history of not winning many games when Peyton Manning isn't his quarterback. It's fine to ignore the 2011 season, but if a team like the Cardinals is looking to rebuild do they really want to go with the guy who went 2-14 on a Colts team that was a mess? What about the 2011 season showed NFL owners that Jim Caldwell can help build a winning team? He didn't do it at Wake Forest and when Peyton Manning was taken out of the picture he couldn't do it in Indianapolis.

Plus, Tony Dungy had him on his staff for seven years, seven playoff runs and one Lombardi Trophy-winning season, but that couldn’t have had anything to do with his football mind. Besides, since when does Dungy’s judgment and decision-making mean anything? 

Well, Bill Belichick had Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weis, Josh McDaniels, and Eric Mangini on his staff in New England when the Patriots made it to several Super Bowls and how did they fare as NFL head coaches? Simply because a team has success with assistant coaches on staff doesn't mean those assistant coaches are head coaching material. This is just obvious to say.

Actually, reciting Caldwell’s resume is an insult to him and this entire issue.

Actually, reciting Caldwell's resume is very telling. I don't consider it unfair to use Caldwell's time with Wake Forest against him. It shows how he coaches and how he builds a team. There are plenty of coaches who have had one terrible year coaching and there are always extenuating circumstances. Good head coaches who have gone 1-15 or 2-14, like John Fox or Jimmy Johnson, either took over teams that were completely rebuilding or had the foundation of the team ruined. Fox had a past history of winning football games, which is why he got a second chance with the Broncos, and Johnson was in his first season with the Cowboys when they went 1-15. Plus, Johnson had a history of head coaching success at the University of Miami. Caldwell has two seasons of diminishing returns after he took over the Colts from Tony Dungy and a terrible college coaching record. Under Jim Caldwell the Colts went from 14 to 10 to 2 wins. Of course it isn't all Caldwell's fault, but this is part of his resume.

He should never be in position to prove his qualifications to anybody in this league, nor be forced to compare them to those of the candidates for whom he was passed over. 

David Steele does realize Jim Caldwell has been an NFL head coach for three years, right? Three years or three seasons for 48 regular season games. That's Caldwell's career resume in the NFL, so Steele shouldn't act like Caldwell has this long history of coaching success. When you can't prove the point you want to prove, exaggerate a little.

Brian Billick, who won a Super Bowl but hasn’t coached in any capacity in five years, got an interview but not a job. Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly, a career college coach, got an interview. 

Brian Billick has won a Super Bowl and has a career 80-64 coaching record. He has a longer history of coaching success in the NFL.

Brian Kelly has turned around four college football programs on all levels in a short matter of time. Kelly has turned around a Division II team (Grand Valley State), a mid-major team (Central Michigan, a Division I school (Cincinnati) and a traditional powerhouse (Notre Dame). He's won on all levels and turned every program around in a short time span. His resume should be the envy of Jim Caldwell's resume. Brian Kelly has lost 67 games from 1991-2012 at the college level and Jim Caldwell lost 63 games from 1993-2000. That's ridiculous when you look their records that way. Brian Kelly is the college coach that Jim Caldwell aspired to be. There's no comparison. Facts trump emotion. This is why Kelly was wanted by the NFL for a head coaching position and Caldwell wasn't.

If Caldwell is deemed not worth a single interview, though, then the entire concept of “qualifications” is garbage, and as such, should be taken out and burned to cinders. 

David Steele, because he prefers to write from an emotional point of view rather than look at facts, called Brian Kelly "a career college coach," but what was Jim Caldwell before he was hired to be Tony Dungy's quarterbacks coach? He was a career FAILED college coach. At least Brian Kelly is successful. Prior to be handed the Colts head coaching job Caldwell's only experience at being a head coach was in college and he failed miserably. Then when he got the Colts job, he took them from losing two games in a season to winning two games in a season in a span of three years. Good effort, good job.

Oh, where can we find “qualified” minority candidates? What kind of plan, system or program can we put in place to uncover those “qualified” coaches who are so hidden from view? 

David Steele is confusing the issue because he is incapable of making a cogent argument for Jim Caldwell to get another chance. He starts talking about the Rooney Rule and the lack of "qualified" minority candidates in the eyes of NFL owners to cover up for the fact Jim Caldwell may not deserve a second chance at a head coaching job in the NFL right now. If you don't have a strong argument, confuse the issue.

Problem is, he said this during the 2005-06 offseason, in which the 10 openings were filled by eight white men, seven of them first-timers, plus Herman Edwards (who switched teams) and Art Shell (who returned to the Raiders after eight years out of coaching). The math says that 10 jobs produced one net gain in minority hiring ... and Shell was canned after one season. To be replaced by Lane Kiffin, speaking of insults. 

What David Steele intentionally leaves out to mislead his readers is that Lane Kiffin was canned after one season and four games and Al Davis wanted to fire him after one season. It's not like he was given a much longer time to prove himself than Art Shell was.

This year, seven of the eight hires are first-timers. Two come from college, one from the Canadian Football League. 

This isn't supposed to be about the Rooney Rule. This is supposed to be about Jim Caldwell and how he deserves more chances to interview for an NFL head coaching job. Maybe a minority should have been hired for one of these eight open positions, but the fact is each team complied with the Rooney Rule and still didn't interview Jim Caldwell. Jim Caldwell isn't a victim of an ineffective Rooney Rule, but is a victim of his resume and performance as an NFL head coach. NFL owners saw how the Colts floundered without Peyton Manning and saw how John Fox made the playoffs with Tim Tebow as his quarterback and then thrived with Manning as his quarterback. NFL owners see how Jim Harbaugh turned around the 49ers without making a big change at quarterback. Caldwell is supposed to be a quarterback teacher and the quarterbacks were a big problem with the 2011 Colts. They see how the Colts fell apart when losing Manning and rightfully question whether Caldwell deserves another chance to be an NFL head coach.

It was supposed to fill the so-called pipeline and ensure that the same handful of names didn’t get passed around to check off a box on a list.

I'm not against the Rooney Rule, but it actually serves to make sure teams check off a box in a list. I get the purpose of the Rooney Rule, but any rule made where a certain race, gender, or religion has to be represented during the interview process will result in a box being checked off at some point, even if the minority is the best candidate for the job. This is what imposing a rule saying an NFL team has to interview a minority for the head coaching position creates. It creates a box that has to be checked off. It's a good or bad thing, depending on your point of view, but David Steele can't advocate for the expansion of the Rooney Rule and then complain about a box on a list being checked off. That's the reality the rule creates. This could change in 50 years when white people are the new minority, but for now it is true.

Thus, while the Andy Reids and Chip Kellys and Bruce Arianses got to sit and stroke their chins and ponder which interview to take first, Jim Caldwell had his time freed up to hone his play-calling skills

I know everyone hates Andy Reid, but he has a long history of success as an NFL coach. I can see why he got another job very quickly. Chip Kelly has an offensive scheme and practice habits that could fit in very well with the NFL, plus (unlike Jim Caldwell) he has had success as a college head coach. Bruce Arians was able to do what Jim Caldwell couldn't do the year before, which is win more than two games as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

I'm not saying there aren't minority head coaches who don't deserve an opportunity to be a head coach in the NFL. David Shaw, James Franklin and Kevin Sumlin all may get a shot to be an NFL head coach one day, but they either (a) aren't completely ready to run an NFL team or (b) won't leave their current job to take an NFL head coaching job. Ray Horton probably should have gotten more attention than he did, I'm surprised Hue Jackson hasn't gotten any interviews for a head coaching or offensive coordinator position, and I think Lovie Smith should have gotten another head coaching job as well. But hey, there aren't a lot of open head coaching positions and a lot of candidates who want those jobs. One thing is for sure, Jim Caldwell isn't among the group who was overlooked. He hasn't even been an NFL coordinator for one full year yet and is just coming off a 2-14 year as a head coach. He is not among the "qualified" minority candidates right now.

Jim Caldwell had his time freed up to hone his play-calling skills and bond with his quarterback the way he once bonded with Peyton Manning, back when everyone assumed that Manning coached himself. 

So where was Jim Caldwell bonding and honing his play-calling skills when he had Curtis Painter as his quarterback last year? It was quite obvious Painter didn't coach himself and Painter had been in Indianapolis for three seasons, including the entire time Caldwell was the Colts head coach. If we give Caldwell credit for Peyton Manning, then how does that explain Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky? I guess they just weren't talented enough for Caldwell to bond with and help coach.

Maybe when he’s calling plays in the Super Bowl in a couple of weeks, he’ll do something that will seem head coach-worthy to some needy team next year.

Lucky for the Ravens, no team was needy enough or impressed enough to call him this year. 

Maybe Jim Caldwell will call a great game. Maybe Greg Roman will call a great game too while continuing to be overlooked for head coaching positions despite the fact he has coordinated a 49ers offense that has been to the Super Bowl and NFC Championship Game with two different quarterbacks over the last two years. David Steele doesn't care about Roman though. It doesn't fit his agenda.

Either way, if Jim Caldwell does a great job as offensive coordinator then maybe he has found his calling for the time being. We've already seen from his time at Wake Forest how well he can coach a football team and we've seen from his work with any quarterback not named Peyton Manning in Indianapolis what kind of leadership ability he has shown that can translate to wins.


Deacon Larry said...

I agree that Caldwell is a very mediocre head coach when he doesn't have a Manning. I was very surprised the Ravens made him their OC and could surprised yet again if he calls a brilliant Super Bowl game.

Did you by chance attend Wake Forest? It would explain the lack of coarse language and vulgarities in your writing.

Deacon Larry said...

Fuck, that should read would be surprised yet again.....

Eric C said...

If Caldwell got another job this offseason and was white, people would be pointing out he is an unqualified retread. We had this discussion on another thread here at some point but it's a shame that minority (not only black) coaches don't have more of a proving ground to avoid the inertia of nepotism. The league should have some sort of coaching college for retiring players to not only ease the transition of the lower paid players who are not set for life, but also to increase the pool of qualified minority coaches. Looks like the NBA had 16/30 minority coaches end of last year (14 black) without a Rooney rule, so maybe it is as simple as figuring out how the NBA does it.

Martin F. said...

Interesting how the Football HoF managed to find 7 guys to gain entry. I don't think Jim Caldwell is going to be a threat to gain entry after he retires. He's just terrible.

Bengoodfella said...

Deacon Larry, he very well may call a brilliant Super Bowl. I wouldn't put it past him. Some guys are great Offensive/Defensive Coordinators, but not great head coaches. I think Caldwell needs to wait a while before he gets another shot. He's just not shown me that he can make a team into a winner.

I have plenty of coarse language and vulgarities. I probably need less of them. I did not go to Wake Forest though. I didn't apply for undegrad, but was wait-listed (which basically means I didn't get int) for law school.

Eric, that's a good point. The NBA doesn't seem to have an issue hiring minority coaches. Maybe the NFL should swallow what pride they have and ask the NBA how they do it.

See, that's another good point. Even though he is a minority, he would also be a retread of sorts. So I would rather see younger minority coaches get a shot.

Martin, I'm all about the "veterans" committee guys, but it always annoys me when I can think of 1-2 guys who deserve to be in the football HoF, but the "veterans" committee guys get in. It's the rules, I know.

Drew Funk said...

Caldwell is not nearly as bad as his reputation or record suggests. He doesn't get any credit for his Super Bowl season in Indianapolis, despite keeping the team focused and on task the whole season. He got pilloried locally for pulling the starters in the Jets game, and then everyone conveniently forgot that Week 17 was in a blizzard at Buffalo and no one sane ever would have risked an injury to the starters there. He did call his worst game of the season in the Super Bowl, much like Jim Harbaugh this year.

After the 2-14 season, Caldwell was kept and evaluated an extra 2 weeks (if I remember correctly) because he was highly thought of within the organization. His players loved him and his teams played smart, disciplined football.

I have no idea what was happening at Wake Forest, so I can't comment about that, but his time with the Colts was competent in the least. His flaws were that he called games too conservatively (putting him in line with at least 28 other NFL coaches), he attempted to stick with a system that worked for Peyton Manning with Durtis Paintlovsky at QB with predictably tragic results, and he hated press conferences and didn't show emotion on the sideline so fans, led by famously unbiased Bill Simmons, tarred him as an idiot and a pawn. Teams could do and have done much, much worse. I'd estimate overall he was very middle of the pack. It's understandable that owners might not jump at the chance to hire him, but a guy who is most assuredly better than the doofus you just fired not getting one interview doesn't seem fitting to me at all.

Bengoodfella said...

Drew, so his consistently poor head coaching record is an aberration? I am not sure he should be given too much credit for the Super Bowl season. He basically just didn't screw things up. Maybe he kept the team focused and on-task, but he had a declining record every year he coached the Colts.

I don't base my opinion his personality or not showing emotion. That's silly. It seems like his players played smart, disciplined football, but I don't see him as a head coach who wins games at this point.

I could be wrong, but I completely understand why he didn't get interviews. Until the last few weeks of the season he had never even been a coordinator at the NFL level and he took the Colts from 14 wins to 2 wins in three seasons.

He did a great job coordinating the Ravens offense. Maybe he will find his niche and stay an OC. I am sure he will get head coaching opportunities after this season and make me look stupid if/when he succeeds.

Lester Spence said...

When the Detroit Lions hired Caldwell because their first choice (Whisenhunt) ended up with the Titans I thought they got the better end of the deal, and was surprised that they ranked Whisenhunt higher. I found this blog post because I've been trying to figure out the roots of Simmons' anti-Caldwell stance. Have you followed Caldwell's year with the Lions at all?

Bengoodfella said...

Bill Simmons tends to go after coaches who are very stoic on the sidelines and don't appear to be engaged in the game. I think that's his source of criticism of Caldwell.

My source of criticism is that I don't think he's the guy who I would hire to sustain and build a successful NFL team. His history of being head coach is one of regression and mediocrity when there isn't regression. Obviously this season is different from that.