Colts Head Coach Search Reaches Week Two
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INDIANAPOLIS – Week Two of the Colts’ head coaching search is here.
And things are very quiet from the base camp of the Indianapolis Colts.
But we can scratch one candidate off the list of Chris Ballard.
Kansas City offensive coordinator Matt Nagy is the new head coach of the Chicago Bears.
That means we are down to 4 head coaching openings (Lions, Colts, Giants, Cardinals) as teams are wrapping up their initial round of interviews.
Chris Ballard stressed that the Colts would be taking their time with this interview process, and keep it very internal, so the fact that we haven’t heard a ton of updates around the Indy camp should not be surprising.
With teams now wrapping up their first interviews, we should begin to see some shrinking of candidates and reports of follow-up interviews coming.
Where do the Colts stand with the 5 candidates initially being reported as interview candidates?
- Josh McDaniels (New England offensive coordinator): The interview for McDaniels came last week, with New England on their bye. Unless the Patriots lose this week, no team can interview the New England offensive coordinator again until Super Bowl bye week. So we might not hear much more on McDaniels for the next two weeks. McDaniels is a coveted name and has been extremely selective in turning down jobs in recent years. If the Colts really want McDaniels, they might have to be patient, similar to what we saw from Atlanta (Dan Quinn) and San Francisco (Kyle Shanahan) when their coaching candidates made Super Bowl runs in the past few years. The Giants reportedly have interest in McDaniels, too.
- Kris Richard (Seattle defensive coordinator): With Seattle missing the playoffs, Richard could make some interview rounds late last week. Richard’s interview with the Colts came after McDaniels. The 38-year-old Richard has been a rumored candidate in other stops besides Indianapolis. Richard was one of three people the Colts interviewed last week.
- Dave Toub (Kansas City special teams coordinator): Things are really quiet on the Toub front. Some thought Toub was the favorite for this job. But hardly anything has been reported on an interview for him since New Year’s Day. Of course, with the Chiefs in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, the Colts could not have interviewed Toub until this past weekend. With the Chiefs’ season now over, will we see Toub’s name resurface with long-time colleague Chris Ballard?
- Steve Wilks (Carolina defensive coordinator): Carolina’s loss on Sunday evening means Wilks can go into full interview mode this coming week. Several teams have interest in Wilks, with the Colts one of those seeking out an interview. Chris Ballard worked with Wilks for three years in Chicago. This is an interview that should come at some point this week.
- Mike Vrabel (Houston defensive coordinator): Like McDaniels and Richard, Vrabel was able to interview with the Colts last week. On paper, any team that hires Vrabel will have some explaining to do as the resume does not add up to him being head coach ready. Vrabel has been the defensive coordinator for just one season in Houston.
Here is more information on the 5 coaching candidates for the Colts:
-New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels: Again, one of the biggest names out there this coaching cycle is McDaniels. The long-time New England assistant was the head coach in Denver from 2009-10, compiling an 11-17 record. The Patriots have not won a Super Bowl without McDaniels on staff.
Biggest Question: Would McDaniels and Chris Ballard mesh? There are questions on how much control McDaniels would want as he seeks out another head coaching job in the NFL. Of course, some would debate whether Tom Brady has made McDaniels or if the coach himself has played a major part in the development of the future first ballot Hall of Famer? This hire would be another try by an NFL team in trying to tap into the Patriots’ dynasty.
-Seattle defensive coordinator Kris Richard: The Seattle connection to the Colts makes sense. Colts current Vice President Player of Personnel Ed Dodds came over to Indy after more than a decade in Seattle. Dodds watched Richard helped construct the “Legion of Boom” secondary before fully taking over the entire Seattle defense in 2015.
Biggest Question: Does Richard have enough experience to become an NFL head coach at the age of 38? How young is Richard? He actually played with Frank Gore in San Francisco. Richard could be the Sean McVay-type candidate in this coaching cycle. The Seahawks, under Pete Carroll, have had past defensive coordinators Gus Bradley and Dan Quinn move on to head coaching gigs.
-Kansas City special teams coordinator Dave Toub: From 2004-16, Chris Ballard and Dave Toub worked for the same teams (Chicago from 2004-12, and then Kansas City from 2013-16). Ballard knows Toub better than any other candidate. The attraction to special teams guys comes from them having coached players on both sides of the ball and used to the complexities involving in-game management and field position.
Biggest Question: Is a special teams coordinator enough? Toub is easily the name most closely associated with Ballard/and the Colts. But there is that looming question of a guy who has only coached special teams since 2001 now taking over an entire NFL team.
-Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks: Chris Ballard has watched Wilks work before in Chicago. Wilks was the DB coach of the Bears from 2006-08. He has since moved on to Carolina, where he’s been the assistant head coach to Ron Rivera since 2015, and took over as defensive coordinator this past year.
Biggest Question: Does Wilks have enough coaching responsibility to offer him a head role? Wilks has been an NFL coordinator for one year and has only been a head coach at Savannah State University in 1999.
-Houston defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel: This isn’t a Chris Ballard connection, but Vrabel was highly thought of when he played in Kansas City (2009-10). Vrabel was the linebackers coach in Houston from 2014-16, before ascending to the coordinator role this past year. The long-time Patriots linebacker has seen the Colts up-close in the AFC South the last 4 seasons.
Biggest Question: Is Vrabel still a year or two away from being a serious head coaching candidate? This is a guy who coordinated the worst scoring defense in the NFL this past year. It’s a resume that certainly doesn’t equate to head coaching quality, but Vrabel is a hot name around the league.