INDIANAPOLIS – On Tuesday of this week, the Indianapolis Colts turned a page in their history by deciding to seek another direction in the head coaching capacity.
General Manager Ryan Grigson and Owner and CEO Jim Irsay reached the decision to part ways with Jim Caldwell after a three-season run that produced a 28-24 overall record.
The matter of releasing a coach who Grigson said exudes "class" and who achieved "outstanding things" according to Irsay was not easy, but after a few days of reviewing the matter the pair determined yesterday it was the choice to make for the organization as it moves forward.
"We've been in constant communication," said Grigson about his working relationship with Irsay since being named general manager on January 11. "It is not like he was in his think tank and I was in mine, and then we came together and said, 'What have you got?'
"We've been in this thing (reviewing the organization) together from the get-go, from the time I shook his hand and said, 'I'm ready to roll with the Colts.' That is how it has been."
Irsay has been in the business since 1972, when his family purchased the franchise. He has been the key decision-maker since taking the team's reins in 1997. Irsay has helped author eight division titles, the highest regular season victory total (115, 2000-09) in any NFL decade, two AFC titles and a world championship in Super Bowl XLI following the 2006 season.
Grigson has forged his own path by starting in personnel with St. Louis in 1999, then moving to Philadelphia for the 2004-11 seasons. He served for the final two seasons as director of player personnel with the Eagles, the third title he earned during his time in Philadelphia.
Irsay and Grigson both know this is a new era for Colts football. It is a time to revive a winning tradition that was interrupted this past season when the team went 2-14.
In finding a new sideline leader, Grigson knows what he seeks.
"Leadership. We want leadership," said Grigson. "Leadership is important. There are a lot of other components, but we want strong leadership, and we want someone who shares this vision in this new era of Colts football.
"We want the best man, the best leader and the person that is going to get us to where we want to go. We are going to find that man."
The process started immediately for Grigson on late Tuesday. It is a key decision that will not be rushed or rash. Grigson's 13 years in the NFL, nine of which resulted in playoff appearances, have prepared him for the task.
"The thing about (the search) is that there are 600-something coaches in the NFL," said Grigson. "We want to find the best one. We will identify those people, I promise you. We will go through this with Mr. Irsay and we will find the best candidate based off of their strengths and what they bring to the table, and who we feel will take us in that new direction. We made a change…because we are confident that we are going to get this thing pointed in the right direction."
There is no set time table to conclude the process. As it is being addressed, Grigson also will meet with current assistant coaches to get a feel for a staff that has contributed to many successes.
It will be a busy spring for Grigson and the Colts. In addition to the city of Indianapolis hosting Super Bowl XLVI, the NFL Combine is set for February 22-28. The club must reach decisions on veteran personnel and meeting salary cap mandates later this year. Indianapolis owns the top pick in the draft and has selections in all seven rounds. The club will have the first pick in odd-numbered rounds, but will alternate with St. Louis in the even-numbered rounds since the Rams finished the 2011 season at 2-14 as well. The Colts earned the first overall selection based on strength of schedule. The combined won-loss record of the Colts 2011 opponents was 138-118 (.539), while those of the Rams earned a mark of 151-105 (.590).