INDIANAPOLIS – Walking back into the building which the called home for nearly a decade, he couldn’t help but find warm greetings around him.
A flurry of handshakes and hugs greeted Jim Caldwell as he made his way towards the podium at Lucas Oil Stadium for his NFL Combine media session on Thursday. It’s almost as if he was right back at home-and in some ways he was.
“There’s so many,” said Caldwell, now the head coach of the Detroit Lions, when he was asked about the things he remembers about his time with the Colts.
That included his time as an assistant coach under Tony Dungy from 2002-2008 and then the team’s head coach from 2009 till his firing after the 2011 season. There is no bitterness for Caldwell following the unceremonious end to his tenure in Indianapolis, only gratitude for another chance to be the leader of an NFL team given to him by the Lions.
“I’m not able to forecast the future, I’m not a prognosticator,” said Caldwell. “But I certainly did indeed hope that I did get another opportunity and I’m glad it happened.”
It comes after Caldwell spent the last year-and-a-half as the offensive coordinator for the Ravens. He took over in the middle of the 2012 season and helped Baltimore to a Super Bowl XLVII victory over the 49ers. He retained the role for the 2013 season before being hired by the Lions in January.
While hoping for another shot at a coaching position, Caldwell did try to make the most out of his time with John Harbaugh’s staff.
“I’d like to have though that I would,” said Caldwell of another head coaching opportunity. “But the fact of the matter is that very rarely do you get a second opportunity. Not only a second but this is actually a third for me if you include my stint in college as well. I was looking forward to it, I was hoping.
“But I was also very satisfied working very, very hard at what I was doing in terms of coaching a position or being an offensive coordinator, whatever to help the team win.”
Caldwell admits to picking up a lot of his habits from his near decade stay in the circle city. He reflected on what he learned with the Colts as he stepped into their stadium with another logo for the first time from strategy to successful mentality.
“I had a great ten years here where we obviously had a lot of success,” said Caldwell. “Certainly learned a lot about what to do in terms of offensive football, etcetera. Learning how to develop a pro team was important just in the way we went about doing things.
“But also winning and winning consistently has a certain sound to it-and I’ve been fortunate to be here but also to go to Baltimore where there has been a lot of winning.”
Bill Polian hopes that will continue when Caldwell goes to Detroit. The current ESPN analyst had a chance to catch-up with Caldwell at the NFL Combine on Thursday afternoon as the two shared a hug and talked for about five minutes.
“He did a great job in Baltimore as all of us thought he would-and now he gets a chance in Detroit with a good team,” said Polian of Caldwell-who had plenty of well-wishers in his return to Indianapolis.