- - Tuesday, January 17, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS — Jim Caldwell endured everything thrown at him during his first two seasons as the Colts’ coach — replacing a friend, rebounding from losses and fighting through injuries.

Not having Peyton Manning around in 2011 was just too much.

Caldwell was fired Tuesday, a little more than two weeks after the Colts’ worst season in two decades.

“This is obviously a big transitional time for us, but I know we’re excited moving forward and it’s hard when you say goodbyes to some people,” team owner Jim Irsay said. “But it’s part of the business.”

In Indianapolis, the last two weeks have hardly been business as usual.

The day after a season-ending loss at Jacksonville assured Indy of the No. 1 draft pick in April with a 2-14 mark, Irsay fired team vice chairman Bill Polian, the architect of the Colts’ success, and his son, Chris, the hand-picked general manager.

Irsay’s nine-day search for a replacement ended last Wednesday when he chose 39-year-old Ryan Grigson as Indy’s new GM.

Since then, Irsay and Grigson have met almost non-stop, debating what direction the team needed to go, whether staff changes would fix the problems or whether the team needed to bring in a new coach and possibly a whole new staff.

Things were so clouded Monday that Caldwell even met with former Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo about possibly becoming the Colts’ new defensive coordinator, and as late as Tuesday morning, the conventional wisdom was that Caldwell would stay.

Then things changed almost as suddenly as the Colts’ fortunes in 2011.

Irsay said he informed Caldwell of the decision about 2 p.m., shortly before the team confirmed the move.

“We just came to the conclusion that this is best moving forward for the franchise,” Grigson said, referring to his first major decision in charge of an NFL team. “Mr. Irsay is the steward of this franchise and I’m here to help him wrap his head around these types of decisions. We’ve been in football our whole lives and a lot of it is about instincts.”

Caldwell ends his Colts’ tenure 26-22 overall with one AFC title, two division crowns and one bleak season that has left him unemployed just three years after replacing close friend Tony Dungy, the first black coach to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

Bears’ Martz announces retirement from coaching

CHICAGO — Mike Martz says he is retiring from coaching.

The NFL Network first reported his decision this week, and Martz told the Chicago Sun-Times, “It’s time.” He did not return a message left Tuesday.

The architect of “The Greatest Show on Turf” as offensive coordinator and coach of the St.. Louis Rams, Martz spent the past two seasons as the Chicago Bears’ offensive coordinator. He had an expiring contract and left after what were described as philosophical differences. The Bears finished 8-8 after season-ending injuries to quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte.

• The Bears signed special teams coordinator Dave Toub to a two-year contract. Toub had an expiring deal and reportedly was in the running for the Miami Dolphins’ head coaching job. Chicago’s special teams have consistently ranked among the league’s best since Toub arrived in 2004 as part of coach Lovie Smith’s first staff.

Fisher says he’s up to task of changing Rams

ST. LOUIS — Jeff Fisher says he is ready for the challenge in St. Louis.

Fisher was formally introduced as the new coach of the Rams on Tuesday. He also interviewed for the head coaching job at Miami, but went with the rebuilding job in St. Louis.

Fisher says his decision was an easy one because he and the owners share a “collective vision” on how to restore the Rams to what he calls a place of significance.

The Rams went 2-14 last season. Fisher replaces the fired Steve Spagnuolo.

Around the league

FALCONS: Atlanta hired former San Francisco coach Mike Nolan as its defensive coordinator. Nolan spent the past two seasons as Miami’s defensive coordinator. Before that, he served four years as the 49ers’ coach. Nolan takes over for Brian VanGorder, who left for the college ranks to take the same position at Auburn.

BRONCOS: Denver tailback Willis McGahee and left tackle Ryan Clady were added to the AFC’s Pro Bowl roster. McGahee replaces injured Houston running back Arian Foster, and Clady replaces injured Miami tackle Jake Long. McGahee rushed for 1,199 yards, joining Ricky Watters as the only running backs in league history to top 1,000 yards for three teams.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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