The clock in his office had just crept past 11 p.m., yet Colts coach Jim Caldwell seemed oblivious to the hour. "I don't do this often," he said of working so late during the off-season. "But there are times when I've got to get a few things done." You might assume Caldwell was searching for ways to soften the blow to his offense following the retirements of longtime coordinator Tom Moore and line coach Howard Mudd. Instead, he was only fine-tuning a speech he was scheduled to deliver over the weekend. "I'm trying to get ahead," he said.
Getting ahead was rarely an issue for the Colts under Tony Dungy, who coached them to a Super Bowl title, five AFC South titles and seven playoff appearances from 2002 through '08. One reason for the success was coaching stability—thus, the potential for upheaval once Dungy stepped down in January. Caldwell's promotion from associate head coach was one of six staff changes—one more than the total turnover during Dungy's tenure.
But because Dungy had signaled several years ago that his time on the sideline was drawing to a close, the franchise could plan a seamless succession. Likewise, with Moore, 70, and Mudd, 67, expected to step down at some point, Dungy and president Bill Polian positioned assistants who could step up when called. Clyde Christensen moved from receivers coach to offensive coordinator and Pete Metzelaars from offensive quality control to line coach. Frank Reich, an offensive assistant in 2008, became QBs coach.
Of the two outsiders, new special teams coach Ray Rychleski worked under Caldwell for eight years at Wake Forest. New defensive coordinator Larry Coyer, a 44-year coaching veteran at the pro and collegiate levels, was the assistant head coach at Tampa Bay last season. "Often the word change denotes abrupt alteration of direction," Caldwell says. "Transition is smoother. The things that have happened with us have been rather smooth."
While Moore and Mudd, who are expected to return as consultants, had been working with Peyton Manning from Day One of his 11-year career, Caldwell has been with the Colts for the past seven seasons, directly overseeing the quarterbacks. Other than some tweaks to the running game, as first-round pick Donald Brown joins the backfield, any alterations on offense should be imperceptible.
The most noticeable changes will come on defense, with Coyer blending more blitzes and pressure packages into the Cover Two scheme. Indy also is looking to get bigger on the D-line. Last month the Colts drafted 305-pound USC tackle Fili Moala in the second round and 319-pound Michigan tackle Terrance Taylor in the fourth, and the team re-signed 296-pound tackle Ed Johnson after cutting him early last season.
Veteran defensive end Dwight Freeney sounds optimistic about the impact the coaching changes will have. "You see changes, so you automatically think it's going to be for the worse. Maybe the changes bring something else—something good. Maybe it helps guys be even more accountable and more responsible for what they do on the field. Change is not always a bad thing."
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