INDIANAPOLIS – It appears the Indianapolis Colts’ long coaching search ends with Shane Steichen.
Multiple outlets are reporting Sunday the Colts have targeted the Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive coordinator as their new head coach and have informed the other candidates they’re no longer under consideration.
Steichen met in person with the Colts last weekend in Philadelphia – owner Jim Irsay, general manager Chris Ballard and other upper-tier personnel were involved – and speculation subsequently increased he would succeed Frank Reich, who was fired Nov. 7.
A contract can’t be finalized until after Philadelphia’s Super Bowl LVII meeting with Kansas City Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.
There was no immediate comment from the team. That likely is a byproduct of the team’s experience the last time it was searching for a head coach.
After firing Chuck Pagano following the 2017 season, the Colts reached an agreement with New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels prior to Super Bowl LII, and had a press conference scheduled. However, McDaniels reneged on the agreement and remained with the Patriots.
Interestingly, hiring Steichen would mark the second straight time the Colts have looked to Philly for their on-field leadership. In 2018, Irsay and Ballard turned to Reich after the McDaniels’ fiasco.
Steichen, 37, would be the Colts’ youngest head coach in 60 years. Hall of Fame coach Don Shula was 33 when he replaced Weeb Ewbank in 1963.
He also would be the NFL’s third-youngest coach, trailing only the Los Angeles Rams’ Sean McVay and the Minnesota Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell.
It’s been a busy few weeks for Steichen. Along with considering his head coaching options, he’s been preparing the Eagles’ potent offense for the showdown with the Chiefs.
Steichen is the first domino to fall in what must be a transformational offseason for the Colts. The next is acquiring their quarterback of the future in the April NFL Draft. The Colts hold the 4th overall selection and could trade up, perhaps to No. 1 with the Chicago Bears, to ensure they get the quarterback they covet.
The Colts are coming off a 4-12-1 season – they’ve won just four of their last 19 games – and have failed to make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons and in six of the last eight seasons since reaching the AFC Championship game in 2014.
Quarterback instability has been a major impediment – Reich had five full-time starters in his five seasons, and eight overall – and offensive impotency in 2022 cost Reich his job.
The Colts bounced from Matt Ryan to Sam Ehlinger to Nick Foles and the overall lack of production reflected it: tied-No. 30 in scoring (17.0), No. 27 in yards per game, No. 23 in rushing and passing, No. 29 in third-down conversions and No. 30 in red-zone efficiency. The offense scored two TDs or fewer in 13 of 17 games, suffered a league-high 34 turnovers and finished with a league-worst minus-13 in turnover differential.
An organizational overhaul is underway and begins with one of the NFL’s brightest offensive minds.
Steichen’s NFL career began in 2011 as a defensive assistant with the San Diego Chargers, but his lifeblood has flowed on offense.
From 2014-15, he served as an offensive quality control coach with the Chargers. That led to overseeing quarterbacks from 2016-19 and advanced to interim coordinator in ’19 and full-time coordinator in 2020. For three years, he worked with Reich on the Chargers’ staff.
In 2021, Steichen relocated to Philly as Sirianni’s coordinator.
The Eagles’ offense has taken flight with Steichen overseeing things and Jalen Hurts developing into one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks.
Over the past two seasons, Philadelphia’s offense ranks No. 5 in total yards (374.5 per game), No. 1 in rushing (153.7), No. 15 in passing (220.9), No. 4 in points (27.1) and No. 3 in third down efficiency (45.8).
So much of the Eagles’ success the last two seasons – 23-11, two playoff appears, one trip to the Super Bowl – is tied to Hurts’ accelerated growth as a multi-dimensional threat.
After starting the final four games as a rookie in 2020 when the Eagles benched Carson Wentz, Hurts has been Philly’s offensive catalyst.
The 2020 second-round draft pick always could do damage with his legs: 354 yards and three touchdowns on 63 attempts as a rookie, a team-best 784 yards and 10 TDs on 139 attempts in ’21 and 760 yards and 13 TDs this season.
But Hurts has steadily improved as a passer. He set career highs this year with 3,701 yards, 22 TDs, a 66.5% completion rate and a 101.5 passer rating.
Steichen’s influence with Hurts had to be enticing as the Colts have made clear their intention of ending their quarterback carousel and selecting one at the top of the April draft.
Before helping elevate Hurts’ game, Steichen worked with Justin Herbert and Philip Rivers during his time with the Chargers.
The Colts wouldn’t allow defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to talk with other teams in case their new head coach wanted to retain him. It’s worth noting Steichen and Bradley share a history with the Chargers. From 2017-20, Steichen was heavily involved on offense as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator while Bradley was the team’s defensive coordinator.
The Colts’ long coaching search began with Zoom interviews with 13 candidates, then advanced to extensive in-person interviews with eight second-round candidates.
The final eight: Steichen, Cincinnati offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, Colts’ interim coach Jeff Saturday, Green Bay special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, Detroit defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Denver defensive coordinator Ejior Evero and New York Giants defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale.