Time to clean slate
With Dungy gone three years and Manning injured, Caldwell couldn't keep the Colts (2-14) upright. The same questions were asked in the 1990s about George Seifert with the 49ers and Barry Switzer with the Cowboys.
Questions aside, the Colts appear to be cleaning the slate as they did in 1997, and Caldwell had to go. Vice Chairman Bill Polian and general manager Chris Polian were the first to get fired. Now, despite owner Jim Irsay's contention that Manning is there to stay, look for him to be the next Colt to ride out of town.
It was inevitable
With a new general manager coming in, it was just a matter of time before the Colts sent Jim Caldwell packing. Does that mean this season's debacle was his fault? No. It means owner Jim Irsay is heading in a different direction with a new front office and a new coaching staff. It also means Caldwell didn't do enough in his three years to convince the owner he should be a part of the team's future.
The real question is whether Peyton Manning will be next out the door. I would think the next coach wants the opportunity to work with one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time while grooming Manning's successor, Andrew Luck.
Rebooting in Indy
Firing Jim Caldwell was a very tough call, even in light of this disastrous season for the Colts.
He was widely respected throughout the organization and around the league, and he had the team playing hard in the worst of situations. Still, cutting ties with him is the way to go if the Colts plan to start fresh with a new quarterback.
This move indicates the Colts are preparing for life after Peyton Manning, just as they replaced Lindy Infante with Jim Mora when they moved on from Jim Harbaugh and ushered in the Manning era.
Owner Jim Irsay, having cleared out Bill and Chris Polian, is rebooting in preparation for drafting Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. So in that sense, Caldwell had to go.
Wrong place, wrong time
Jim Caldwell was not the reason the Colts went from 10-6 to 2-14, so if he was fired for failing to win, it was for the wrong reason.
If he was fired because he was part of the old Colts, and the team wants to head in a new direction, that makes more sense. Bill Polian, the man who hired Caldwell, is gone. In his place is new general manager Ryan Grigson, who undoubtedly wants to put his stamp on the team with a new coach.
It's also possible Peyton Manning will be gone, replaced by Andrew Luck. So Caldwell's offensive system that was so important to Manning might no longer be necessary. Caldwell merely got stuck in a situation in which all of the pieces around him changed.