Inexperienced Colts Coaching Staff Passed The Test In 2018
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INDIANAPOLIS – It was a legitimate question entering the 2018 season for the Colts.
Would inexperience at the highest positions of the staff lead to in-game struggles for a team wanting/needing to rely on young players right away?
Well, a 10-6 season in 2018 certainly answered that question.
Chris Ballard was adamant that seeking out the teaching aspect of this new coaching staff was a huge focus in the hiring process last year.
The youth didn’t really bother him.
“You are going to have some young, aggressive guys that are really going to be trying to make their mark in this league,” Ballard said of his new staff last offseason. “I’m excited about it, excited about the youth on our staff. I think it’s good to have teachers with energy. We have energy and that’s a good thing.”
Remember, among the entire 2018 coaching staff for the Colts, only defensive backs coach Alan Williams was making a lateral move from the 2017 NFL ranks. Every other coach, coordinator or position coach, was rising to their current level from what they did the previous year.
Reich passed his duties as a first-time head coach, plus taking on the play-callign duties.
And the collaboration effort from first-time coordinator Nick Sirianni worked. The then 36-year-old Sirianni was the guy that Reich had told his wife he would hire as OC, if that head coaching job ever became his.
On defense, Reich really had no choice but to accept Matt Eberflus as his defensive coordinator.
A Chris Ballard hire that was supposed to work under Josh McDaniels, Eberflus barely knew Reich before the two were paired together in mid-February 2018.
Eberflus was the CEO of the Colts defense and got a group of very young players to finish in the top-half of some very important categories.
How strong were both first-year coordinators in 2018?
Both drew head coaching interest last month, with Eberflus actually interviewing for the head coaching opening in Cleveland.
Even first-year special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone (36 years old) had a successful unit in 2018.
The offense fulfilled a promise of being aggressive and innovative.
The defense carried out its core beliefs of being a unit built on effort, yet a simpler system that a younger group could grasp quickly.
“What we asked them to do was, ‘Hey, look, guys, I’m going to ask you to coach a bunch of rookies and guys that we pull off the street and make it work,'" Ballard said of what he asked from the coaches in 2018.
“It just was a tremendous job by them, and I thank them for it. I’ve been on staffs where guys gripe and complain or make excuses. They never made an excuse for us being young. They just coached. And I think that’s what the great teachers do. They just find a way to make it work. They coach, and they get guys better and they never make an excuse if things aren’t going the right way.”