Colts Fire Offensive Line Coach Dave DeGuglielmo
Colts Fire Offensive Line Coach Dave DeGuglielmo
Zach Bolinger | Getty Images
INDIANAPOLIS – The coach for the position group that made the biggest jump for the Colts in 2018 will not be back with the team.
On Tuesday, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo first reported that the Colts were firing offensive line coach Dave DeGugliellmo despite a tremendous season for his position group.
Garafolo said that Frank Reich wanted to make his own hire along the offensive line, with DeGugliellmo thought to be more of a Josh McDaniels’ hiring last offseason, and that the Indy head coach was actually recommending Guge for other jobs.
“That was really hard, because I so much respect Guge as a person and as a coach," Reich said. "You know, he played a significant role in us coming in here and the success we had. And it’s hard — it’s hard to explain. It was really odd dynamics the way that he and I got connected, and it’s no reflection on him or anything; it’s just when I had envisioned getting this position, you know, there’s certain things that you just are looking for, in ways that you just want to have ‘my guy,’ for lack of a better way to say. You always envision bringing in the guy that you had envisioned bringing in. But certainly appreciate the contribution Guge made, and I told him that, and love and respect him.”
The move is a surprise given how successful that unit performed this past season, and how often head coach Frank Reich and members of the offensive line praised Guge.
Now, there were certainly other factors for why the Colts offensive line made such a significant jump in 2018, besides just their position coach.
One was a major infusion of talent (thanks to a pair of top-40 draft picks) and a committed approach by Andrew Luck to get rid of the ball faster and adhere to the emphasis from Frank Reich implementing a quicker rhythm to the passing game.
But Guge certainly had a positive impact on the majority of that room.
Players often lauded the change in culture and confidence that Guge brought their room. As the year went along, Reich always made sure to credit Guge for the success in the trenches.
In November, Reich said: “Coach Guge is a fiery guy that’s going to get his guys to play hard for him and he’s definitely done that.”
Then in December, Reich said this: “Guge does a really good job with the room getting them both physically and mentally ready.”
Reich described Guge as ‘blunt and direct’ and more of a ‘throwback’ coach.
Perhaps that went a little too far with how Guge handled the unfortunate events surrounding Denzelle Good in 2018.
Good battled injuries all offseason long, before entering the starting lineup at right tackle in Week Four.
Tragically, Good’s brother was fatally shot on the Tuesday following that game against Houston.
As you would expect, Good spent time with his family in South Carolina and missed that Thursday’s game with the Patriots. He returned to practice the next week, but would not dress for the rest of the season, with the team finally waiving him on Dec. 1.
According to Good, Guge told the fourth-year pro that he would never play again for him.
Here is Good, as a member of the Oakland Raiders late in December, telling his side of the story to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur:
Good said that offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo was upset that he had left the team and that in a meeting in his office a month ago DeGuglielmo told Good he was “a failure.”
“I came back after my brother was murdered and I was dealing with a lot of personal issues,” Good said. “That didn’t sit well with (DeGuglielmo). He wanted players that fight through things and play.”
Good was in a funk when he got back — “it was hard to just get back to my normal self when my brother was just murdered” — and DeGuglielmo got more and more upset with the guard. And then it all came out in the meeting.
“He told me that as long as I was there, I would never play for him again,” Good said. “I would never play another down because he felt disrespected. I wasn’t going to play even though I felt I was as good as anyone on the field playing.”
So Good immediately went to general manager Chris Ballard and asked for his release; Ballard granted his wish on Dec. 1.
Given how serious the Colts are about culture and the locker room, you could see how such a story would lead to the firing of a position coach, even if his group had a successful season.
Plus, Guge was not a hire that was apparently made directly by Ballard or Reich. And Reich himself is a coach who has a big influence on how pass protection responsibility is divided up in a given week. With no prior connection to Guge, you could see why Reich would make such a move, especially if there's a disconnect with an offensive assistant.
Guge is also a guy who has had issues in retaining coaching jobs.
Since 2012, Guge had 5 jobs in 7 years, with his stop in New England (2014-15) being the only multi-year gig.
With the premiere young talent that is on the Indy offensive line, this has to be an attractive job for Reich to dangle in front of candidates.
Is former college line coach and current tight ends coach Tom Manning an option, or will the Colts go outside the building to coach a talented group?
We will see as the Colts have their first job to fill not even a week into the 2019 offseason.
With that being said. I love Coach Reich and trust in every decision he’s made as a Head Coach. We’re going to improve on last year and I can’t wait for next season. Go Colts!
— Quenton Nelson (@BigQ56) January 16, 2019
This could not have been said any better, not only did he bring together a room but emphasized the importance of technique. In April he told us physicality and fundamentals would ultimately take us as far as we wanted to drive the train. I fully trust in the org. to keep it goin https://t.co/qnUEHNRZdp
— Ryan Kelly (@ryan_kelly70) January 16, 2019