Jim Caldwell
refer to caption
Caldwell with the Detroit Lions in 2016
Carolina Panthers
Position:Senior assistant
Personal information
Born: (1955-01-16) January 16, 1955 (age 69)
Beloit, Wisconsin, U.S.
Career information
High school:Memorial (Beloit, Wisconsin)
College:Iowa (1973–1976)
Career history
As a 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 an American football coach who is a senior assistant for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL). He previously served as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2009 to 2011 and Detroit Lions from 2014 to 2017. As an assistant coach, Caldwell was the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach for the Colts team that won Super Bowl XLI and the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens team that won Super Bowl XLVII.

College career

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


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). Caldwell was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa - The National Leadership Honor Society at Wake Forest in 1996.

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

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.[1] He was formally introduced at a press conference the following day.[2]

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 general manager, Bill Polian) to sit out his starting players the last two games of the season (both losses), drawing controversy to him and the team.[3] He later won his first playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens on January 16, 2010. On January 24, 2010, Caldwell became the fifth 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 LVIII, Caldwell is the last rookie head coach to reach the Super Bowl.[4]

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, marking the end of the Peyton Manning era in Indianapolis.

The 2011 season, however, saw the Colts sink to 2–14. Starting quarterback Peyton Manning missed the entire season due to undergoing neck surgeries and without him the Colts appeared to be a rudderless team. Caldwell was fired after the season. The league-worst record however, gave the Colts the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, which they would end up using to draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

Baltimore Ravens

Thirteen days after his dismissal from the Indianapolis Colts, Caldwell was named quarterbacks coach by the Baltimore Ravens on January 30, 2012.[5] On December 10, 2012, the Ravens dismissed Cam Cameron and named Caldwell the offensive coordinator.[6] On the day after defeating 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.[7] On February 3, 2013, Caldwell helped lead the Ravens to a 34–31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.[8][9]

Detroit Lions

On January 14, 2014, the Detroit Lions announced Caldwell as their new head coach.[10] He was the first African American to hold the position for the Lions.[11]

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.[12] There was speculation that Caldwell would soon be fired as well,[13] but the next week the Lions won a road game against the Green Bay Packers for the first time since 1991.[14] 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 general manager Bob Quinn, who was hired during Caldwell's second year, may have wanted to bring in a coach from his former team, the New England Patriots. Subsequently, on January 1, 2018, the day after the season ended, Caldwell was fired by the Lions.[15] He was succeeded by Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia the following month.[16] The firing of Caldwell drew retrospective contention due to the team not improving beyond wild card contention, but regressing under Patricia.[17][18]

Caldwell's record as Lions coach was 36–28 (.563), making him the first non-interim Lions coach to leave the team with a winning record since Joe Schmidt, who led the team from 1967 to 1972. His .563 winning percentage was also the best for a Lions' head coach since Buddy Parker in the 1950s.


After being released from Detroit at the end of the 2017 NFL season, Caldwell was hired by the reincarnated XFL to a consulting panel that addressed football rules for the league.[19]

Caldwell was interviewed in December 2018 by the Green Bay Packers for their open head coach position that was previously held by Mike McCarthy until being let go mid-season in 2018.[20] Caldwell also interviewed for head coaching vacancies with the New York Jets[21] and the Cleveland Browns.[22]

Miami Dolphins

After the Miami Dolphins hired Brian Flores as their new head coach, Caldwell was hired to Flores' staff as assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach on February 8, 2019.[23] On July 13, 2019, it was announced Caldwell would take a leave of absence to address health issues, but remained as a consultant.[24] Following the 2019 season, Caldwell was not retained by the Dolphins.

On January 4, 2022, Caldwell interviewed to become the next head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.[25] On January 15, he completed an interview for the head coaching job at the Chicago Bears. He was later interviewed for a second time by new general manager Ryan Poles on January 25.[26]

Caldwell not receiving another head coaching opportunity since 2017, along with his dismissals from the Colts and Lions, were cited by Flores as examples of the league's alleged racial discrimination in his 2022 class-action lawsuit against the NFL.[27]

Carolina Panthers

On January 9, 2023, Caldwell was interviewed as a candidate for the Carolina Panthers' head coach position.[28]

On February 14, 2023, Caldwell was named a senior assistant for the Panthers under new head coach Frank Reich.


Caldwell and his wife, Cheryl, have four children: Jimmy, Jermaine, Jared and Natalie.[29]

Head coaching record


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


  1. ^ "Dungy steps down as Colts coach; assistant Caldwell will take over". Sports Illustrated. January 12, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2009. [dead link]
  2. ^ "NFL REPORT: Patriots' Pioli gets GM job with K.C", AJC.com, January 14, 2009, retrieved January 20, 2009
  3. ^ "Caldwell defends decision to sit starters". ESPN. December 28, 2009.
  4. ^ "Mind-blowing stats for the Super Bowl". National Football League. January 29, 2014. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  5. ^ Mink, Ryan (January 30, 2012). "Ravens Hire Caldwell As QBs Coach". Baltimore Ravens Blogs. Archived from the original on October 21, 2013.
  6. ^ "Baltimore Ravens fire offensive coordinator Cam Cameron". ABC 2 News. December 10, 2012. Archived from the original on January 9, 2014.
  7. ^ Mink, Ryan (January 21, 2013). "Jim Caldwell Staying As Offensive Coordinator". Baltimore Ravens Blogs. Archived from the original on March 7, 2013. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  8. ^ "Ravens overcome power outage, survive rally to win Super Bowl". ESPN. February 3, 2013. Archived from the original on August 30, 2014.
  9. ^ "Super Bowl XLVII - San Francisco 49ers vs. Baltimore Ravens - February 3rd, 2013". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  10. ^ Jim Caldwell hired by Detroit Lions as next coach NFL.com, January 14, 2014
  11. ^ "Lions' Caldwell Honored As Team's First African-American Coach". CBS Detroit. July 26, 2014. Archived from the original on September 10, 2014.
  12. ^ Lage, Larry (November 5, 2015). "Detroit Lions fire team president and GM after 1-7 start". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  13. ^ Breech, John (November 5, 2015). "Which NFL coach will be fired next? Oddsmakers like 49ers, Lions, Colts". CBS Sports. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  14. ^ Birkett, Dave (November 15, 2015). "The streak ends! Lions stun Packers, 18-16". freep.com. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  15. ^ Patra, Kevin (January 1, 2018). "Detroit Lions fire Jim Caldwell after missing playoffs". NFL.com. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  16. ^ Lewis, Edward (February 5, 2018). "Patriots DC Matt Patricia named head coach of Lions". NFL.com. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  17. ^ Reisman, Jeremy (November 21, 2019). "Stop apologizing to Jim Caldwell". Pride of Detroit. Retrieved January 25, 2022.
  18. ^ Windsor, Shawn (November 19, 2020). "Bob Quinn fired Jim Caldwell because 9 wins wasn't enough. Now the Detroit Lions are worse". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  19. ^ "Ex-Lions coach Jim Caldwell hired by XFL". Lions Wire. August 1, 2018. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  20. ^ "Packers interview Jim Caldwell, Chuck Pagano for HC". NFL.com. Archived from the original on December 27, 2018. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  21. ^ "Report: Jets to interview Jim Caldwell for head coach vacancy". New York Jets. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  22. ^ "Browns interview Jim Caldwell for head coach". www.clevelandbrowns.com. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  23. ^ Nogle, Kevin (February 8, 2019). "Dolphins announce Brian Flores coaching staff". The Phinsider. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  24. ^ Maya, Adam (July 13, 2019). "Dolphins AHC Jim Caldwell taking leave of absence". National Football League. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  25. ^ Johnson, James (January 5, 2022). "Jags knock out interview with Jim Caldwell on Tuesday". Jaguars Wire. Retrieved January 14, 2022.
  26. ^ "New Bears GM Poles interviews Caldwell for coaching job".
  27. ^ Modiano, Chuck (February 3, 2022). "QB guru Jim Caldwell is Exhibit A in Brian Flores lawsuit, we've got the receipts". Deadspin. Retrieved February 7, 2022.
  28. ^ Simmons, Myles (January 10, 2023). "Panthers interviewed Jim Caldwell on Monday, to interview Steve Wilks on Tuesday". ProFootballTalk. Retrieved January 27, 2023.
  29. ^ "Jim Caldwell". colts.com. April 30, 2005. Archived from the original on August 12, 2011.