During a 40-minute interview with The Indianapolis Star, Colts owner Jim Irsay was given an opportunity to publicly back his embattled coach, Jim Caldwell. Instead, he went to great lengths to avoid saying anything definitive, or even mildly supportive, about his coach's future in Indy:
"One thing people can't evaluate with Jim is how hard he works, how he prepares the team, how he does have plenty of fire in his belly. At this point, it's something where I'm not into votes of confidences. I don't have any non-votes of confidence.
"I'll say this: Jim Caldwell did one of the greatest coaching jobs in the last four games last year to get us to 10-6, to get us in a position to have a chance . . . with serious injuries going on there . . . those things can't be forgotten.
"But you have to do what's right to win even (when) it's difficult, even if there's people that think you should make a change. When it comes to changes and Jim's status, it's something that eight games going forward, more will be revealed. This situation is always changing. But it's really going to be always what's best to give us a chance to win."
Pro Football Talk labeled this a "public vote of support." It's more of a "public sign to start preparing your résumé."
Nobody thinks Caldwell is safe in Indianapolis, not with an 0-8 record that somehow manages not to fully capture the ineptitude of the team. But maybe there was a small chance that the coach's prior record and the extenuating circumstances of this season will save him.
Judging by Irsay's comments, you'd have to believe he doesn't see it that way. If not, why wouldn't he have parsed his phrasing a little more carefully, mentioned that Caldwell won an AFC championship once upon a time or, better yet, not said anything at all. (Note: It's always better to not say anything at all.) But uttering lines like "when it comes to changes ... more will be revealed" and "it's really going to be always what's best to give us a chance to win" right after praising what Caldwell did last year is like starting to fill out a pink slip.
Most damning to Caldwell were Irsay's words about Indianapolis vice chairman Bill Pollian and his son, general manager Chris Pollian. "I'm committed," Irsay told the newspaper. "In their defense, it's pretty radical after the successes we've had to start even talking about the question, in my opinion."
Now that's a vote of confidence.
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- Jim Caldwell
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