Hyde: Cald­well brings ex­pe­ri­ence

64-year-old for­mer head coach of two play­off teams is what Mi­ami needs.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Front Page - [email protected]­tinel.com

The most wel­come Dol­phins coach­ing move of them all landed not with a big head­line, or tri­umphant ap­plause, or any pub­lic hoopla be­yond a sim­ple hand­shake Fri­day morn­ing and nod of greet­ing.

“Hi, Jim Cald­well,’’ he said.

You might not be ex­cited by a 64-year-old coach with comes with a quiet and re­spected voice of ex­pe­ri­ence. And that’s fine. Cald­well must be used to that kind of wel­come in a league where the young ge­niuses make peo­ple ex­cited.

Brian Flores, at 37, might be that type of wun­derkind who doesn’t need help in his first swing at head coach. Co­or­di­na­tors Chad O’Shea and Pa­trick Gra­ham, too, might know it all in their first times in those roles.

Still, Cald­well brings some­thing none of the five, first-time Dol­phins coaches have had this

mil­len­nium. Ex­pe­ri­ence. Coun­sel. A back­stop of ideas, even if the for­mer head coach of two play­off teams down­plays his role.

“My job is to help wher­ever I can,’’ Cald­well said.

Let’s look back to look ahead at what that could mean. Adam Gase knew it all when he ar­rived. That swag­ger. That ar­ro­gance. That was part of his charm when he took over the Dol­phins — at least un­til it be­came part of his down­fall.

It wasn’t just the head­line stuff from his de­ci­sions, like a co­caines­niff­ing coach, an AWOL line­backer or a vet­eran re­fus­ing to play. A smaller sign: The Dol­phins had play­ers, plu­ral, vet­er­ans and young­sters, con­stantly late to meet­ings in the Gase era.

A small thing, maybe. But it spoke of bigger, dis­ci­plinary prob­lems. Gase couldn’t han­dle it. He tried. He called out play­ers in his own way. The is­sue per­sisted.

Gase even tried to em­bar­rass play­ers by post­ing names of those late plate to meet­ings and the amount they were fined. Max­i­mum amount: $3,000. It didn’t solve any­thing.

For all the talk of “cul­ture” in­side the Dol­phins last sea­son, this was the devel­oped cul­ture of the Gase era. It spoke of a lack of ev­ery­day details you of­ten saw play out on the field.

Flores, no doubt, knows what he in­her­ited. The cul­ture is set by the head coach in any sport, pro or am­a­teur, big time or lit­tle league. And it’s not so much on this spe­cific topic Cald­well will pro­vide any help.

It’s on dozens of is­sues like this, big and small, team-wide and player-spe­cific, where a voice ex­pe­ri­ence might help.

“My goal and aim is to help this team win and win con­sis­tently,” Cald­well said.

In some form, he’s here to help these new coaches know what they can’t know. Gase loved to X and O and could match strat­egy with the best of them. But he would la­ment so much of his time was spent deal­ing with ev­ery­thing

but the X’s and O’s.

That’s the life of a head coach. Bill Par­cells said every head coach had five things come across his desk every day that he’d never dealt with as an as­sis­tant.

The Dol­phins coaches of the past two decades are sad ex­am­ples of that. Joe Philbin over­saw the aw­ful Bul­ly­gate saga that tore apart the fran­chise. Tony Sparano, a good leader, never had a vet­eran coach­ing ally in a way that hurt him. Cam Cameron had such prob­lems line­backer Joey Porter said in a meet­ing Cameron didn’t know what he was talk­ing about.

Then there was daily drip of is­sues like, yes, play­ers con­stantly be­ing late to team meet­ings in the Gase era. The mys­tery is why Gase didn’t do what Sean McVay did in Los An­ge­les. He didn’t hire a vet­eran de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor like 71-year-old Wade Phillips to cover his blind spots. He hired two first-time co­or­di­na­tors in Vance Joseph and Matt Burke.

Cald­well, no doubt, wants to be a head coach again. He in­ter­viewed for three jobs this off­sea­son. He’s a foot­ball lifer who was a head coach at Wake For­est, won a Su­per Bowl as In­di­anapo­lis’ of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, took In­di­anapo­lis to an­other Su­per Bowl as a rookie head coach and Detroit to the play­offs.

Asked if he’s seen it all, he said, “I try to learn some­thing new every day.”

That’s what ex­pe­ri­ence sounds like. His pres­ence says some­thing good about Flores, too. He rec­og­nizes he might need help.

“He doesn’t need much help,” Cald­well said. “He’s ex­cel­lent. A guy that has great vi­sion and fore­sight. Re­ally, what I’m here for, I’m just here to ask what­ever he asks me to do. He has very ca­pa­ble coaches.”

He chuck­led. “I know when you re­fer to, ‘ex­pe­ri­ence,’ you’re re­fer­ring to age as well. That’s a kind way to say it.”

This right way to say it is this move won’t make the Dol­phins suc­ceed. It does, how­ever, sug­gest a com­mon mis­take of past firstyear coaches won’t be re­peated.


Jim Cald­well is the as­sis­tant head coach and quar­ter­backs coach for the Dol­phins.


Dave Hyde


Jim Cald­well took the Lions to the play­offs. He also coached the Colts.

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