Colts hit reset button in coaching search, look at Frank Reich, Dan Campbell, Leslie Frazier
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Chris Ballard has pushed the reset button in his attempt at delivering the “right guy’’ to the Indianapolis Colts.
It obviously won’t be Josh McDaniels, who with one out-of-the-blue phone call Tuesday evening reduced his name to a four-letter word in these parts.
So, who’s the fallback guy? And let’s not kid ourselves, that’s how the next head coach of the Indianapolis Colts will be viewed. Whoever it is, he wasn’t the first choice. He probably wasn’t even involved in the first round of interviews.
But as Ballard stressed Wednesday, it’s “about being right.’’
“You’ve got to be right,’’ he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the first out of the box and everybody praises you or you are the last one to make the hire.
“We want to be right.’’
As it turns out, Ballard and owner Jim Irsay were wrong in their assessment of and commitment to McDaniels. He showed his true character by opting at the absolute last minute to stay in New England and leave the Colts – and several assistants expecting to be part of his new staff – scrambling.
“We’ll move forward,’’ Ballard insisted.
A source confirmed to Indy Sports Central the renewed search began Thursday with an interview with New Orleans Saints assistant head coach/tight ends coach Dan Campbell, and includes a Friday meeting with Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the Colts also will interview Buffalo defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
Ballard revealed Wednesday he vetted more than the candidates he actually interviewed. Time restraints in dealing with assistants whose team had reached the playoffs made that impossible.
“There’s other guys that we wanted to interview,’’ Ballard said, “but because of the playoffs, we weren’t able to do (that). We’ll move forward with them and we’ll get the right leader for the Indianapolis Colts, one that believes what we believe and wants to go where we want to go.’’
One issue to keep in mind as Ballard dives headlong into Plan B: the new head coach already will have a defensive coordinator and two other assistants in place.
In preparation for McDaniels’ arrival, the Colts signed Matt Eberflus as defensive coordinator, Mike Phair as defensive line coach and Dave DeGuglielmo as offensive line coach.
Eberflus’ presence indicates the expertise of the next head coach would be on offense. It would make zero sense to hire a defensive-minded head coach whose approach would conflict with that of his inherited coordinator.
However, Eberflus and Frazier each embrace the 4-3 and the accompanying Tony Dungy concepts. Frazier was part of Dungy’s staff with the Colts in 2005-06 and Eberflus worked under Rod Marinelli in Dallas, and Marinelli was an intregral member of Dungy’s staff in Tampa Bay.
Deciding to go forward with Frazier obviously would require hiring a top-flight offensive coordinator.
A capsule look at the three known candidates:
- Age: 56
- Current position: Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator
- Resume: Eagles’ offensive coordinator since 2016. . . . Previously with the San Diego Chargers (2013-15), Arizona Cardinals (2012) and Colts (2008-11. . . . Responsibilities with Colts included quarterbacks and receivers. . . . Although Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was heavily involved with the offense, Reich had major influence as the team had to adjust following the season-ending knee injury to QB Carson Wentz. Backup Nick Foles took over and led Philly to a 41-33 win over New England in Sunday’s Super Bowl. . . . Third-round pick of the Buffalo Bills in 1985 whose playing career spanned 13 seasons and 118 games. . . . Led the Bills to the biggest comeback in postseason history in the ’92 wild-card round, rallying them from a 35-3 deficit to a 41-38 overtime win over the Houston Oilers.
- Age: 41
- Current position: New Orleans Saints assistant head coach/tight ends
- Resume: In second season with Saints. . . . Previous NFL coaching experience came with the Miami Dolphins. Was tight ends coach from 2011-15 and named interim head coach when team fired Joe Philbin in October 2015. . . . Was a third-round pick of the New York Giants in 1999 who would appear in 114 games and catch 91 passes during a 10-year career with Giants and Detroit Lions.
- Age: 58
- Current position: Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator
- Resume: NFL career spans more than three decades as a player, head coach and assistant coach. . . . Was the Bills’ defensive coordinator in 2017. . . . Took over as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings in 2010 after management fired Brad Childress. Led team to 21-32-1 record and one playoff appearance in three-plus seasons before being fired after a 5-10-1 mark in ’13. . . . Served as a defensive assistant for Dungy with Colts in 2005 and then elevated to assistant head coach/defensive backs coach in ’06.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.