INDIANAPOLIS – Jim Caldwell departed Indianapolis after the 2011 season with a 28-24 overall record that included a Super Bowl season in 2009.
Caldwell then joined Baltimore as offensive coordinator and after a two-year run that included a Super Bowl title in 2012, he returns to Indianapolis this week as head coach of Detroit.
Sometimes it is tough for a coach to get a second chance in the NFL. It is something Caldwell hoped would happen.
“I'd like to have thought I would, but it’s very rare that you get a second opportunity, not only a second, but this is a third for me if you include my stint in college (Wake Forest) as well,” said Caldwell. “I was looking forward to it, I was hoping, but I was also very satisfied being an offensive coordinator, whatever it would take to help a team win. I’m glad it happened.”
Caldwell came to Indianapolis with Tony Dungy in 2002, serving as quarterbacks coach and then adding the assistant head coaching title before the 2005 season.
Caldwell was a strong presence in one of the most potent offensive periods in franchise history. From 2003-10, only twice did the Colts not rank in the top three in scoring offense, while it resided in the same echelon in net yardage.
From 2003-09, Indianapolis set the NFL mark for consecutive 12-win seasons, and Caldwell’s first unit went 14-2 and reached Super Bowl XLIV (click here). He stands with Don Shula, Don McCafferty and Dungy as Colts Super Bowl coaches.
It was a period of growth for Caldwell, one he extended in Baltimore under John Harbaugh, and it is a path that has led him to Detroit, where the Lions finished 7-9 after a 6-3 start.
Detroit lost its last four games and missed the playoffs, watching instead as Green Bay slipped by Chicago to win the NFC North.
Caldwell says lessons learned in Indianapolis will aid in leading the Lions.
“There’s so many. One of the things about our business is if you don’t feel that you’re growing and developing every day, obviously you’re in the wrong business. I learn something different every day,” said Caldwell. “I had a great 10 years here. We obviously had a lot of success and certainly learned a lot about what to do in terms of offensive football.
“Learning how to develop a pro team was important, just in terms of the way we went about doing things. But also winning and winning consistently has a certain sound to it and I’ve been fortunate enough to be here, but then also to go to Baltimore where there’s been a lot of winning.”
Caldwell will forge his team along the lines he saw done by Dungy and Harbaugh.
“Even though they may be dissimilar in a number of different ways, they’re very similar in that they have people that have (a) very, tough sort of a mental outlook on the game, physically and mentally.
“That’s something we've got to be able to develop and got to make certain that we not only do it in spurts, but do it consistently. There’s a lot of situations where you’re going to have a lot of adversity. We have to control that and keep our focus. For the most part, the core and the makings for that are in place. We’re going to try to build upon that.”