Jim Caldwell endured everything thrown at him during his first two seasons as the Indianapolis Colts’ coach — replacing a friend, constant criticism, even fighting through a huge rash of injuries.
He couldn’t survive the loss of Peyton Manning.
Caldwell became the Colts’ third high-profile dismissal in an offseason purge, getting fired Tuesday after producing a 2-14 record – the franchise’s worst in two decades.
“This is obviously a big transitional time for us, and I know we’re excited moving forward and it’s hard when you say goodbyes to some people,” team owner Jim Irsay said. “But it’s part of the business.”
The day after the season ended, Irsay fired team vice chairman Bill Polian, the architect of the Colts’ success, and Polian’s son, Chris, the hand-picked general manager.
Irsay hired 39-year-old Ryan Grigson as the replacement last week. On Tuesday, Caldwell became the latest to be let go.
“We just came to the conclusion that this is best moving forward for the franchise,” Grigson said.
In 2009, Caldwell won his first 14 games, an NFL record for a rookie head coach, and he became the fifth first-year coach to take his team to the Super Bowl, which the Colts lost to New Orleans. 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. This season, without the franchise quarterback behind center, the Colts lost their first 13 games before winning twice in five days.
The Colts have the No. 1 overall draft pick and could select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. The Wasserman Media Group announced Tuesday that Luck’s uncle, Will Wilson, will serve as his agent.
FISHER READY TO REBUILD RAMS
After watching video of the St. Louis Rams as they wound up a depressing three-year run under Steve Spagnuolo, new coach Jeff Fisher saw potential.
“There’s a really solid nucleus here,” Fisher said Tuesday. “Yes, there is.”
Fisher perceived commitment, too, after spending time with owner Stan Kroenke.
“My decision was very, very simple,” said Fisher, who chose the Rams’ job over an offer to coach the Miami Dolphins. “It was based on a shared collective vision in restoring this franchise to a place of significance. It was that vision that made my decision very, very easy.”
Mike Martz he is retiring from coaching. A former offensive coordinator and head coach for the Rams, the 60-year-old Martz spent the past two seasons as the Bears’ offensive coordinator. … The Falcons hired former 49ers coach Mike Nolan as their defensive coordinator. He spent the past two seasons as the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator. … The Raiders received permission to interview Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg for their vacant head coaching job. … Broncos running back Willis McGahee and left tackle Ryan Clady have been added to the AFC’s Pro Bowl roster. McGahee replaces injured Texans running back Arian Foster, and Clady replaces injured Dolphins tackle Jake Long.