Jim Caldwell (American football)

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Jim Caldwell
refer to caption
Caldwell with the Lions in 2016
Personal information
Born: (1955-01-16) January 16, 1955 (age 63)
Beloit, Wisconsin
Career information
High school:Beloit (WI) Memorial
Career history
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
Head coaching record
Regular season:62–50 (.554)
Postseason:2–4 (.333)
Career:NCAA: 26–63 (.292)
NFL: 64–54 (.542)
Coaching stats at PFR

James Caldwell (born January 16, 1955) is a former American football coach and former player. He now serves as a consultant to the revived XFL.[3] He served as the head football coach at Wake Forest University from 1993 to 2000, and as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2009 to 2011 and Detroit Lions from 2014 to 2017.

College career[edit]

Caldwell attended the University of Iowa, where he was a four-year starter at defensive back for the Iowa Hawkeyes football team from 1973 to 1976.

Coaching career[edit]


Caldwell served as an assistant coach at the University of Iowa, Southern Illinois University, Northwestern University, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Louisville, and Pennsylvania State University before being named head coach at Wake Forest University in 1993. He was the first African-American head football coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

In eight years, Caldwell had a record of 26–63. He installed a powerful passing attack that set numerous school records, many of which have since been broken under his successor, Jim Grobe. However, his teams rarely ran well; in one year the Demon Deacons' leading rusher only notched 300 yards for the entire season. He only had one winning season, in 1999, when the Deacons won the Aloha Bowl.

Indianapolis Colts[edit]

Caldwell joined Tony Dungy's staff with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001 as quarterbacks coach. He followed Dungy to Indianapolis in 2002 and remained with him for his entire tenure, helping lead the Colts to a win in Super Bowl XLI.

On January 13, 2008, Caldwell was formally announced as Dungy's successor-in-waiting. On January 12, 2009, Dungy announced his retirement, putting Caldwell in the head coaching position.[4] He was formally introduced at a press conference the following day.[5]

Caldwell had one of the best debut seasons for a head coach in NFL history, finishing with a 14–2 record. The Colts rushed out to a 14–0 start. With the AFC South title and the top seed in the AFC playoffs secured, Caldwell opted (on orders from then GM, Bill Polian) to sit out his starting players the last two games of the season (both losses), drawing controversy to him and the team.[6] He later won his first playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens on January 16, 2010. On January 24, 2010, Caldwell became the 5th rookie head coach to lead his team to the Super Bowl after securing a 30-17 win against the New York Jets in the AFC Championship Game. On February 7, 2010, Caldwell's rookie season ended with a 31–17 loss in Super Bowl XLIV to the New Orleans Saints.

Caldwell shares the NFL record for the best start by a rookie head coach, starting his career with 14 wins. George Seifert led the San Francisco 49ers to 14 wins as a rookie head coach in 1989. The 14 wins also tied a Colts franchise record. As of Super Bowl LI, Caldwell is the last rookie head coach to reach the Super Bowl.[7]

In his second season the Colts posted a 10–6 record but maintained the division title in the AFC South. They lost their first game in the playoffs to the New York Jets, 17–16, on January 8, 2011.

The 2011 season, however, saw the Colts sink to 2–14. Star quarterback Peyton Manning missed the entire season due to neck problems, and without him the Colts appeared to be a rudderless team. Caldwell was fired after the season.

Baltimore Ravens[edit]

Thirteen days after his dismissal from the Indianapolis Colts, Caldwell was named quarterbacks coach by the Baltimore Ravens on January 30, 2012.[8] On December 10, 2012, the Ravens dismissed Cam Cameron and named Caldwell the offensive coordinator.[9] On the day following the defeat of the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game, head coach John Harbaugh announced on January 22, 2013 that Caldwell would be the team's permanent offensive coordinator going into the 2013 season.[10] On February 3, 2013, Jim Caldwell helped lead the Baltimore offense to a 34–31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII at the Superdome.[11][12]

Detroit Lions[edit]

On January 14, 2014, the Detroit Lions announced Caldwell as their new head coach.[13] He was the first African American to hold the position for the Lions.[14]

In Caldwell's first season with the Lions, they posted an 11–5 record and made the playoffs as a wild card. They were defeated in the first round by the Dallas Cowboys, losing by a score of 24–20.

Halfway through the 2015 season, the Lions had struggled to a 1–7 record, and both team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew were fired.[15] There was speculation that Caldwell would soon be fired as well,[16] but the next week the Lions won a road game against the Green Bay Packers for the first time since 1991.[17] Ultimately, Detroit won 6 of their final 8 games to finish the season with a 7–9 record, and Caldwell retained his job.

In 2016, Caldwell's third season in Detroit, the Lions improved to a 9–7 record and lost to the Packers in a Week 17 game that determined the winner of NFC North. The Lions clinched another wild card berth, but lost in the first round to the Seattle Seahawks, 26–6.

The Lions went 9–7 again in 2017, in a season widely considered a disappointment despite the Lions' winning record. After the Lions missed the playoffs following a mediocre performance in the second half of the season, there was speculation about Caldwell's future, given the team's performance and belief that Lions GM Bob Quinn, who was hired during Caldwell's second year, may want to bring in a coach from his former team, the New England Patriots. In Week 16, Detroit lost to the Cincinnati Bengals by a score of 26–17. The loss to the 5–9 Bengals eliminated the Lions from postseason contention, sparking calls among both fans and the media for Caldwell to be fired. Subsequently, on January 1, 2018, the day after the season ended, Caldwell was let go by Detroit.[18]

Caldwell's record as Lions coach was 36–28 (.563), making him the first Detroit head coach (who lasted at least one season) to have a winning record since Joe Schmidt, who led the team from 1967 to 1972. Caldwell's .563 winning percentage was the best for a Lions' head coach since Buddy Parker in the 1950s.

XFL Career[edit]

After being let go from Detroit at the End of the 2017 NFL Season, Caldwell was hired by the reincarnated XFL. He was hired to a panel that is consulting for the football portion of the new league. [19]


Caldwell and his wife, Cheryl, have four children: Jimmy, Jermaine, Jared, and Natalie.[20]

Head coaching record[edit]


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (Atlantic Coast Conference) (1993–2000)
1993 Wake Forest 2–9 1–7 9th
1994 Wake Forest 3–8 1–7 8th
1995 Wake Forest 1–10 0–8 9th
1996 Wake Forest 3–8 1–7 8th
1997 Wake Forest 5–6 3–5 7th
1998 Wake Forest 3–8 2–6 7th
1999 Wake Forest 7–5 3–5 5th W Aloha
2000 Wake Forest 2–9 1–7 8th
Wake Forest: 26–63 12–52
Total: 26–63


Team Year Regular season Postseason
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
IND 2009 14 2 0 .875 1st in AFC South 2 1 .667 Lost to New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV
IND 2010 10 6 0 .625 1st in AFC South 0 1 .000 Lost to New York Jets in AFC Wild-Card Game
IND 2011 2 14 0 .125 4th in AFC South
IND total 26 22 0 .542 2 2 .500
DET 2014 11 5 0 .688 2nd in NFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to Dallas Cowboys in NFC Wild-Card Game
DET 2015 7 9 0 .438 3rd in NFC North
DET 2016 9 7 0 .563 2nd in NFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to Seattle Seahawks in NFC Wild-Card Game
DET 2017 9 7 0 .563 2nd in NFC North
DET total 36 28 0 .563 0 2 .000 -
Total 62 50 0 .554 2 4 .333

Coaching tree[edit]

NFL head coaches under whom Jim Caldwell has served:

Assistants under Jim Caldwell who have become NCAA or NFL head coaches:


  1. ^ "Ex-Lions coach Jim Caldwell hired by XFL". Lions Wire. 2018-08-01. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  2. ^ "Ex-Lions coach Jim Caldwell hired by XFL". Lions Wire. 1 August 2018.
  3. ^ "John Fox, Jim Caldwell to work with XFL". www.msn.com.
  4. ^ "Dungy steps down as Colts coach; assistant Caldwell will take over", Sports Illustrated.com, January 12, 2009, retrieved January 20, 2009[dead link]
  5. ^ "NFL REPORT: Patriots' Pioli gets GM job with K.C", AJC.com, January 14, 2009, retrieved January 20, 2009
  6. ^ "Indianapolis Colts' Jim Caldwell defends pulling starters vs. New York Jets". ESPN. December 28, 2009.
  7. ^ "Mind-blowing stats for the Super Bowl". National Football League. January 29, 2014. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  8. ^ Mink, Ryan (January 30, 2012). "Ravens Hire Caldwell As QBs Coach". Baltimore Ravens Blogs. Archived from the original on October 21, 2013.
  9. ^ "Baltimore Ravens fire offensive coordinator Cam Cameron". ABC 2 News. December 10, 2012. Archived from the original on January 9, 2014.
  10. ^ Mink, Ryan (January 21, 2013). "Jim Caldwell Staying As Offensive Coordinator". Baltimore Ravens Blogs. Archived from the original on March 7, 2013.
  11. ^ "Ravens overcome power outage, survive rally to win Super Bowl". ESPN. February 3, 2013. Archived from the original on August 30, 2014.
  12. ^ "Super Bowl XLVII - San Francisco 49ers vs. Baltimore Ravens - February 3rd, 2013". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2017-11-08.
  13. ^ Jim Caldwell to be hired by Detroit Lions as next coach NFL.com, January 14, 2014
  14. ^ "Lions' Caldwell Honored As Team's First African-American Coach". CBS Detroit. July 26, 2014. Archived from the original on September 10, 2014.
  15. ^ Lage, Larry (November 5, 2015). "Detroit Lions fire team president and GM after 1-7 start". sandiegouniontribune.com. San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  16. ^ Breech, John (November 5, 2015). "Which NFL coach will be fired next? Oddsmakers like 49ers, Lions, Colts". cbssports.com. CBS Sports. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  17. ^ Birkett, Dave (November 15, 2015). "The streak ends! Lions stun Packers, 18-16". freep.com. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  18. ^ Patra, Kevin (1 January 2018). "Detroit Lions fire Jim Caldwell after missing playoffs". NFL.com. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  19. ^ "Ex-Lions coach Jim Caldwell hired by XFL". Lions Wire. 2018-08-01. Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  20. ^ "Jim Caldwell". colts.com. 30 April 2005. Archived from the original on August 12, 2011.

External links[edit]