The NFL is a crazy league where success is something so vital and hard to come by because you never know how long it will last. The job of an NFL head coach is one that many would desire to have but very few are able to sustain long-term success with. Being an NFL head coach is a very cut-throat job, where even people that achieve success and have quality seasons could still be relieved of their duties.
Someone that meets that criteria is Jim Caldwell, who has been a head coach for seven years, first for three years with the Indianapolis Colts and then spent four years with the Lions.
During his time with the Colts, Caldwell took over for the great Tony Dungy, and while he inherited an excellent team, with a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Peyton Manning, he still led the Colts to back to back playoff appearances and took them to the Super Bowl in the 2009 season. A season where they went 14-2, while Manning had a stellar season spreading the ball around to guys like Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon, and Dallas Clark, and in the process won his fourth MVP. Despite all of their success that season, the Colts lost to the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl 31-17. A game where Manning had a chance to tie the game but threw a costly pick 6 to Tracy Porter, which put an end to the Colts Super Bowl hopes.
After that disappointing result in the Super Bowl, the Colts had a very solid season in 2010 going 10-6 and winning the AFC South. Unfortunately for the Colts they ran into a fierce New York Jets team with a great defense in the Wild Card and lost 17-16 after Nick Folk hit a 32-yard game-winning field goal.
2011 was his last year with the Colts, as they went only 2-14, due to Manning being sidelined the entire season with a neck injury. That season the Colts went through three quarterbacks in Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky, and Kerry Collins. All three are not nearly good enough to even come close to replace Manning. It’s very hard for a coach to win in the NFL when you have to go through three quarterbacks in one season, especially when the quarterbacks are so inferior.
After being let go, Caldwell spent two years as an offensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens and helped them win the Super Bowl during the 2012 season. His success with Baltimore helped Caldwell get a second chance at being a head coach. In 2014 Caldwell was hired as the next head coach of the Detroit Lions and spent four seasons there and was fired after the conclusion of 2017 despite finishing the season 9-7. Caldwell’s dismissal has backfired on the Lions as they replaced him with Matt Patricia. The Lions did this thinking that he would be able to take them to the next level that Caldwell couldn’t get them to. That decision has been one with regret on the Lions part as Patricia in two and a half seasons on the job went 13-29-1. While Caldwell in four seasons with the Lions went 36-28 and won 58% of his games.
In Indianapolis, Caldwell maintained the success of Dungy and in Detroit, he showed immediate improvement from Jim Schwartz, Caldwell is consistent and successful.
One team that has a head coaching vacancy that is in need of Caldwell’s talent is the Houston Texans. They are a franchise desperate for new leadership because Head Coach Bill O’Brien was fired after six and a half years on the job after starting the season 0-4. The Texans were coming off a 10-6 season in which they lost to the eventual reigning Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. During the offseason, O’Brien, who also served as the team’s general manager, made a shocking move dealing one of the best wide receivers in the league, DeAndre Hopkins, along with a fourth-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals for beaten-down running back David Johnson and a second-round pick.
This trade was highly scrutinized by most people around the NFL, and many thought that the Texans had gotten robbed. As a result, they got off to a slow start this season, simultaneously they were faced with a tough schedule, and were not able to compete with the best teams in the league.
The Texans have one of the premier quarterbacks in the league in Deshaun Watson who is only 25-years-old and has four more years left on his contract. What Watson and the Texans need is a Head Coach that will get the best out of his abilities. The Texans also need someone who can help get this team back on track, someone who is a leader and is well-respected.
Jim Caldwell is that guy, and he would be a great fit for the Texans. On Dec. 21, Houston interviewed Caldwell for their vacant head coaching position. Caldwell is a fixer and he knows how to get the best out of his players whether it’s been as a head coach or an assistant coach. During Caldwell’s first year with the Lions, he inherited a team that won 11 games the past two seasons and matched the total in his first season. Since Caldwell’s departure, the Lions have come nowhere near making the playoffs. Failing to win no more than six games in a single season.
The Houston Texans would be extremely fortunate to have Caldwell resurrect their franchise.