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You can’t say he didn’t warn us.
Earlier this season, Colts head coach Jim Caldwell aided the Jaguars to victory when he called a timeout with 36 seconds remaining in a tie game.
The Jaguars had the ball in their own territory and appeared content to let the clock wind down and send the game into overtime. But after Caldwell’s bizarre timeout they readjusted their strategy, drove down the field, and won on a Josh Scobee field goal as time expired.
More puzzling than his timeout was his reaction to it after the game – he said he’d do the same thing again.
Most assumed he was just being stubborn – a head coach not wanting to fess up to a mistake.
Most assumed wrong.
Caldwell made an even bigger timeout blunder during Saturday’s playoff game against the Jets.
Trailing 16-14 with the clock running down inside 30 seconds, the Jets faced a second-and-8 at the Colts’ 32-yard line. With 29 seconds remaining, Caldwell inexplicably used a timeout.
With one timeout still in their pocket (thanks Jim) and the clock now stopped, many more options opened up for the Jets.
Given the new scenario the Jets regrouped on the sideline and decided to take a shot downfield. If it didn’t work there would still be plenty of time left (thanks Jim) and with a timeout remaining, they could just run on third down and try to set up a shorter field goal instead.
The Jets’ strategy paid off.
On second down Mark Sanchez connected with Braylon Edwards along the sideline for an 18-yard completion, setting up a much shorter 32-yard field goal attempt for Nick Folk, who had struggled with long field goals all season long.
Folk nailed it.
Jets win 17-16.
“We wanted to try to make them snap the ball as many times as they possibly could,” he said.
Folk had hit fewer than 50 percent of his attempts from outside 40 yards during the regular season. More snaps likely means moving in closer, particularly the way the Colts’ run defense was performing in the second half. Praying for a turnover or sack in that situation rather than forcing a long field goal makes zero sense.
If you are a Colts fan, the terrifying thing about the situation is Caldwell will do it again. He was asked Sunday if he if he regretted calling the timeout.
“No,” he replied.
One of two things needs to happen for the Colts prior to the 2011 season.
1: Bill Polian needs to sit down with Caldwell and have a long talk about how to use timeouts.
2: Bill Polian needs to find a new head coach.
Take your pick.
Peyton Manning never got a shot at a game-winning drive at Jacksonville Sunday.
Surprisingly it was his own coach, Jim Caldwell, who made sure it didn’t happen.
After Manning tied the game with a touchdown pass to Austin Collie with 48 seconds left, Jacksonville was content to send the game into overtime.
When the Jaguars got the ball back, they ran a draw on first down that gained eight yards and got them to their own 31-yard line.
With only one timeout and the clock winding down toward 30 seconds, it was obvious the Jaguars weren’t in hurry-up mode – a typical boneheaded Jack Del Rio decision.
But Caldwell bailed him out by inexplicably calling a timeout.
He apparently hoped the Colts would prevent the Jaguars from gaining two yards on two plays. His team would then get the ball back and his offense would get a chance to win in regulation.
Not good odds on that happening coach, particularly the way your defense played all afternoon.
Not surprisingly, his strategy backfired.
After the timeout Jacksonville changed its strategy, sped things up, hit on a couple of pass plays, and Josh Scobee nailed a 59-yard field goal to win as time expired (he loves to do this to the Colts).
If Caldwell let the game go into overtime he’d have essentially given his team a 50/50 chance at victory. Both defenses were struggling and whoever won the coin toss probably would have marched down the field for a score.
It was the worst decision of Caldwell’s brief NFL head coaching career and as a result the Colts are 0-2 in the AFC South.
Oh well, you live and you learn right?
Not if you’re Caldwell apparently.
He reportedly said if given another chance he’d do the same thing. For Colts’ fans, that is not what you want to hear. Maybe he’ll feel differently after sleeping on it and watching some tape.
Here’s my advice for Caldwell: If you wanted to make a gutsy move at the end of the game, why not go for a two-point conversion after the Collie touchdown?
Aside from turnovers, the Jaguars couldn’t stop Manning and the offense, you are on the road, and if you go to overtime and lose the toss No. 18 likely never touches the ball again.
Winning the AFC South has suddenly become an uphill battle for the Colts and with any more decisions like the one Caldwell made on Sunday, the climb will get even steeper.