- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 29, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indianapolis Colts fired defensive coordinator Larry Coyer on Tuesday after starting the season 0-11. The question will be if there is more to come in this lost season.

Coach Jim Caldwell, whose own job may be in jeopardy, said the move was made to “improve communication and production.”

“We feel this is the most effective and realistic way to move forward and win games this season,” Caldwell said in a statement before a scheduled news conference. “We appreciate all of the effort and hard work Larry Coyer put forth in his three years with the Colts.”

Coyer was a defensive assistant for two years in Tampa Bay and in Denver from 2000-06. Colts linebackers coach Mike Murphy will take over the defense.

Indianapolis has struggled on both sides of the ball this season after losing quarterback Peyton Manning, who hasn’t played in a game while he recovers from Sept. 8 neck surgery — his third procedure in a span of 19 months.

Firing Coyer is the first move in what will likely be many for the Colts as the front office faces key decisions about Manning, Caldwell and at least a half-dozen other key veterans. Indianapolis is the clear front-runner to land the No. 1 pick next spring and many wonder if the Colts will pick Stanford’s Andrew Luck or another top quarterback with an eye toward the end of the Manning era.

After going 14-2 and winning an AFC title in his rookie season, then winning another AFC South crown last season despite a rash of debilitating injuries to his team, Caldwell is staring at a winless season that would drop his overall regular-season mark to 24-24. Team officials have said they believe in Caldwell, but the calls are growing louder from fans for dramatic changes.

Owner Jim Irsay has fired only two coaches since taking over from his father in 1997 (Lindy Infante and Jim Mora), and he has offered staunch support for the front office. He’s been less enthusiastic about Caldwell.

Coyer’s teams performed relatively well, but it wasn’t enough to save his job.

In 2009, the Colts ranked eighth in the NFL in scoring defense (19.2 points allowed). Dwight Freeney piled up 13.5 sacks and earned a Pro Bowl bid with Robert Mathis and Antoine Bethea. Last year was tougher after a series of injuries, thought the Colts still advanced to the playoffs. Besides his stints in Tampa and Denver, Coyer was also the defensive line coach for the New York Jets in 1994.

Murphy is in his 27th season as an NFL coach and 14th year with the Colts.



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