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Realistic Colts Head Coaching Options

As the Indianapolis Colts embark on a search for a new head coach, who are some realistic head coaches that Jim Irsay and Chris Ballard could be pursuing?

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INDIANAPOLIS – Everyone has their dream head coach.

But reality says the Colts will not be able to extract Vince Lombardi onto their sideline next season.

In trying to sift through all the smoke that surrounds rumored head coaching candidates, here are 7 names with connections to the Colts that could be following the Chuck Pagano tenure:


-Arizona head coach Bruce Arians: This is probably the most popular/somewhat realistic possibility for fans of the Colts. For now, Arians remains the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. But Arians has the personality and offensive flavor that the Colts need. At the age of 65, is a re-pairing with Andrew Luck enticing enough for Arians to give it one more run, if things are broken up in Arizona?

Biggest Question: Is the 65-year-old Arians still wanting to coach after recent health scares? Arians was retired in 2012, before Chuck Pagano called him to pitch the idea of being Andrew Luck’s offensive coordinator. A lot has transpired for Arians, health wise, since then. His desire to keep on coaching must be answered.


-Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell: The Seattle OC since 2011 has a connection with Ed Dodds, who is Chris Ballard’s right-hand man. Dodds is the Vice President of Player Personnel in Indianapolis and came over to Indy after many years in Seattle. Bevell has not only groomed Russell Wilson, but he coached Brett Favre in Green Bay and Minnesota. Bevell was also a college teammate of Ballard’s at the University of Wisconsin.

Biggest Question: Has Bevell done enough with Seattle’s offense to merit a head coaching chance? Some Seattle fans will never forgive Bevell for not giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch at the end of the 2015 Super Bowl. Seattle did run the football very well when Bevell had a guy like Lynch in the backfield.


-Seattle offensive line coach Tom Cable: Like Bevell, the Seattle connection applies here as well. Cable has coached the offensive line in Seattle since 2011, so Dodds saw him work for a handful of years. Cable’s head coaching resume in college and the NFL is ugly (28-62). But Cable is an offensive guy and would be a cutthroat personality that could rub off on a team needing a bit of a mean streak.

Biggest Question: Is Cable’s resume, on and off the field, really worthy of another shot in the NFL? Considering the off-the-field issues for Cable (he has been accused of punching a former assistant coach in the face and of physical abuse to multiple women), and his putrid coaching record, it’s hard to imagine the Colts, and the Irsay familiy, actually signing off on such a hire.


-Kansas City assistant head coach Brad Childress: At the age of 61, Childress has spent 5 years as an NFL head coach. Childress coached the Vikings from 2006-10. Minnesota won the NFC North twice under Childress and reached the NFC Title game in 2009, before a crushing defeat to the New Orleans Saints. Childress has a long pedigree on the offensive side of the ball. He was also an assistant at the University of Wisconsin when Chris Ballard played there.

Biggest Question: How involved has Childress been with Kansas City’s offensive work over the past handful of seasons? Ballard watched Childress work in KC. When Ballard was there, Childress was first the spread game analyst (2013-15), before becoming the offensive coordinator (2016). At first, fans might scoff at this idea. But there’s a clear connection with Childress and Ballard. And Childress brings head coaching experience with a 39-35 career record.


-Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Todd Haley: One of the hotter coordinator names has Pittsburgh once again in position for a possible Super Bowl run. Haley has been the OC of the Steelers since 2012, after a 3-year stint as the head coach of the Chiefs. Chris Ballard and Haley worked together in Chicago from 2001-03. Haley was the wide receivers coach for the Bears, while Ballard was getting his early start as an area scout.

Biggest Question: Are the Colts patient enough to potentially wait on Haley? IF Pittsburgh makes a run to the Super Bowl, the Colts are going to have far less time to interview the Steelers offensive coordinator, versus other possible candidates. Haley’s head coaching run lasted 3 seasons with records of 4-12, 10-6 and then 5-8, before being fired in December 2011.


-Kansas City offensive coordinator Matt Nagy: Is this the Sean McVay-type candidate that teams will inevitably be trying to uncover in 2018? Nagy is 39 years old and has been with Kansas City since the 2013 season. He was the QB coach from 2013-15 and has been the OC the last 2 years, including some play-calling duties this past year.

Biggest Question: Does Nagy still need high-level coaching experience before he becomes a viable head coach candidate? Nagy has been a position coach for 3 seasons and 2 years as an offensive coordinator. That is not much experience at all for an NFL head coach.


-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.

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