The team announced the firing on its website, after owner Jim Irsay tweeted:
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Although the firing comes after the traditional day of change for NFL coaches — the day after the regular season ends — the Colts chose to clean house first, firing Bill and Chris Polian in the front office, then hiring Ryan Grigson as general manager. That had left Caldwell, who turned 56 on Monday, in limbo since Jan. 2.
In Tuesday’s press conference, Irsay explained the move in more than 140 characters.
“This was a difficult decision,” he said. “I wanted to make sure we took all the time we needed to make sure it was the right decision. ... And just like 14 years ago, it’s a big change for the franchise and at the same time, there’s players, coaches, many peolpe on the staff that will go into the new day and get on with the work of 2012.”
Caldwell succeeded Tony Dungy in 2009 after seven seasons as quarterbacks coach, then assistant head coach and associate head coach. In his first season, the Colts went 14-2 and lost to the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV. His regular-season record is 26-22.
With quarterback Peyton Manning out for the season and recovering from Sept. 8 neck surgery, the Colts fell apart. They started 0-13, tied for the worst start in team history.
“Change sometimes isn’t always the easiest transition to make but it’s part of this game, part of this league and part of the direction we need to get going in this new era of Colts football,” Grigson said.
But as the Colts search for Caldwell’s replacement, the bigger questions may be whether that ‘new era’ still includes Manning.