Let me be the first to say that I was wrong. Maybe I should say I and the rest of the state of Indiana were wrong. We were wrong to think that former Indianapolis Colt’s coach Jim Caldwell could ever be successful again in the NFL especially after his last season with the Colts. You remember that wonderful season where the horseshoes finished 2-14 and when the season ending smoke cleared, everyone who was anyone was dismissed from the squad, including Jim Caldwell.
Most would admit that the downfall of that team was not just the year-long injury to Peyton Manning, but the ineptness of Coach Caldwell. Critics of all media cited his inability to motivate a squad that despite a injury to their star player still had several key players in place. That might have been true but for whatever reason nothing ever jelled for Caldwell during his time as head coach except for his first season after taking over for Tony Dungy.
That year the Colts rolled to their second Super Bowl appearance which ended with a loss to New Orleans. Most were comfortable with the job Caldwell had done and would continue to publicly endorse him as long as then No#18 was taking snaps.
Funny how one season of success followed by two subpars years left the critics calling for his exit out of Indy on the next bus. Most wondered after his firing whether he was just a flash in the pan riding the coattails of Dungy and others and whether he was even football worthy.
Fast forward to the 2012 season and the Baltimore Ravens. Caldwell who had spent a bit of his early coaching as a quarterback coach is hired on by Baltimore for that same position. On the surface this seemed like a reasonable hire to help advance the career of Joe Flaco who had been producing acceptable numbers in his early career but has never been thought of as one of the elite.
But fate has a funny way of rewarding those who just persevere and in the case of Caldwell it did. With about three games left, Caldwell is promoted to offensive cordinator and surprisingly the Ravens start winning convincingly. Their streak takes them into the postseason where they dispose of the Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos and New England Patriots.
Now with one game left to play, the Super Bowl, Caldwell will have the opportunity to go from a zero to hero. Most story lines will point to the matchup of the head coaching wit of the two brothers or the final game of Ray Lewis or the upstart of rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the 49’ers. All of those will be great stories to follow but the one that should get more attention than it will is the resurgence of Jim Caldwell. After all, he has stood in the face of adversity and has made it back in a big way.