Colts Players Glad Dungy Returning, Like Caldwell as Eventual Successor
KAPOLEI, Hawaii - Peyton Manning is close with Jim Caldwell.
They have worked together since 2002, Manning as the Colts' quarterback and Caldwell as his position coach during six Pro Bowl seasons.
Not surprising then, that Manning and Caldwell share an opinion on something each believe is important – that although Caldwell has been named the successor if/when Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy should retire, that that is a position very much for the future.
Caldwell has made that point several times since the line of succession was announced late last month.
Manning reiterated it at the Pro Bowl this past week.
The future, Manning said, is the future.
And what matters is now.
“In this day and age with injuries and free agency, you’re really kind looking year to year,” Manning said during Pro Bowl practice last week.
Following the Colts’ 28-24 loss to the San Diego Chargers in an AFC Divisional Playoff game in January, Dungy spent a week considering retirement. He decided to return, and when he did, it was also announced that Caldwell had been promoted from Assistant Head Coach/Quarterbacks to Associate Head Coach. Caldwell was named as Dungy’s eventual successor.
Much of the Colts’ success in recent years, Manning said, has been because of an ability to focus on the present, and he said to look ahead to a time when Caldwell is the coach would be counterproductive and uncharacteristic.
“I feel like that’s the best thing we’ve done,” Manning said. “We’re excited that Tony’s back and hopefully, he’s back for beyond this year.
“As far as the 2008 season, we’re glad Tony’s the head coach, and I think that’s the main thing.”
Said Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, “Jim Caldwell will get a shot
sometime, but we’re just glad Coach Dungy’s still there and hopefully, we can get him out of there with a bang again.”
When/if Dungy should step aside, Colts players in the Pro Bowl this week agree:
Caldwell is the perfect fit for the future.
“He’s been in the organization, so he know what goes on,” Colts safety Antoine Bethea said. “We probably won’t have to change much around here with Jim Caldwell stepping in. It was good to hear that.”
Bethea said although Caldwell focuses mostly on quarterbacks and assisting with the offense, the Colts’ defensive players know and respect him.
“Guys get to know him walking around the facility, talking,” Bethea said. “He’s a really good guy – a great guy. He’s soft-spoken, just like Coach Dungy.
“He has similar traits, so whenever that happens, we’ll let it happen.”
Joseph Addai, the Colts’ second-year running back, said because of Caldwell’s work assisting offensive coordinator Tom Moore, the Colts’ offensive players have a strong connection with him.
“I like him,” Addai said. “I talk to him a lot. He has coached a great quarterback in Peyton Manning. He understands the system and he goes about it the right way. There have been times when Tony has had to go away and he (Caldwell) has stepped in and it (snaps fingers) went like clockwork. I feel comfortable with him in the game.”
That’s a point made by several Colts players at the Pro Bowl, that while they very much want Dungy as the head coach now and in the future, should a day come when Caldwell is the coach, the transition likely will be seamless.
“It’s almost like the same guy, to be honest with you, the same mold – a guy who knows what’s going on, knows the game and we like him a lot,” Wayne said. “I’m glad to know he’s somewhere in the future and he’s going to be with our program.”