Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell didn’t receive another opportunity to become an NFL head coach this offseason. But he did land on a coaching staff with another former Colts head coach in Carolina.
That may be where Caldwell stays for a long time.
In a press conference on February 21, Caldwell revealed that he has changed his goals and doesn’t plan to seek more head coaching opportunities in the future.
“Right now, the only job that I’m concerned about is the job I do here, right here and now,” Caldwell told the media. “I’m not worried about the future or anything else. I don’t plan on being a head coach from this point forward.”
Caldwell sang a far different tune in December when he told The 33rd Team in a live video that he had “a strong desire” to still be a head coach.
Caldwell Back Tracks ‘Desire’ to be NFL Head Coach
The 68-year-old coach described his ambition to be a head coach again as so strong that he hadn’t pursued opportunities in other businesses.
“I have a strong desire to do so, to get back in the league as a head football coach,” Caldwell told The 33rd Team on December 13. “I’ve had numerous opportunities to do other things, which I wanted to refrain from until I’ve exhausted every avenue in this area, and I’m probably about in my last cycle coming up.”
Caldwell interviewed for the head coaching job with the Carolina Panthers. But ironically, the Panthers hired Frank Reich, who then in turn hired Caldwell to be the team’s senior assistant.
ESPN’s David Newton wrote that Caldwell’s role with the Panthers will include reporting to Reich “on all phases of the game.” It’s a role that Caldwell is pleased to have despite the disappointment of not getting a head coaching opportunity.
“When I didn’t get a head-coaching job, I immediately sort of changed the plan in terms of what I was looking for next,” Caldwell told the media. “I knew I was at the stage where I wanted to be back in the building somewhere.
“And so, I did have some opportunities to kind of look at, and I was happy when Frank called.”
This will be Caldwell’s first coaching job since 2019 when he served as assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach with the Miami Dolphins. He was head coach of the Colts from 2009-11 and then of the Detroit Lions from 2014-17.
Caldwell Deserving of Another Head Coaching Opportunity?
In both Indianapolis and Detroit, Caldwell experienced a lot of success early. During his first season in each place, he led the Colts and Lions to a combined 25-7 record.
But outside of his first season with both teams, he won 10 games just once. The Colts fired him after going 2-14 in 2011 and then the Lions did the same after consecutive 9-7 campaigns in 2016 and 2017.
Coaches rarely get a third opportunity to be an NFL head coach. But one could argue Caldwell should be an exception.
In seven years as a head coach, he led his teams to five winning seasons. Caldwell was the first coach to post a winning record during his tenure with the Lions since the early 1970s.
Furthermore, his worst season — 2-14 mark with the Colts in 2011 — came with Peyton Manning sidelined the entire season because of a neck injury.
Caldwell owns an overall record of 62-50 as an NFL head coach. His overall win percentage is better than both Mike Shanahan and Tom Coughlin, but each of those coaches have received far more notoriety as Super Bowl champions.
It will be interesting to see if success in Carolina could lead Caldwell to another head coaching opportunity. Perhaps then, he will change his mind.
For now, though, he says he’s focused on his new role with the Panthers.