Who Should The Colts Look For At Head Coach After Josh McDaniels Said No?
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INDIANAPOLIS – The next head coach of the Indianapolis Colts will not be their Plan A, Plan B or Plan C option.
Josh McDaniels’ sudden change of heart, more than a month into the 2018 offseason, has Chris Ballard scrambling to find a head coach for next year.
Of the 4 rumored interview candidates the Colts initially spoke with, none remain as possibilities.
Matt Nagy took the Bears head coaching job. Mike Vrabel is now the head man with the Titans.
Kris Richard actually is a defensive assistant now in Dallas, having taken the job of Matt Eberflus, who was the expected defensive coordinator for Josh McDaniels in Indy.
Matt Rhule, the Baylor head football coach, was a surprise interview candidate, just wrapped up a signing day recruiting class while staying in Texas.
Steve Wilks was a rumored candidate, but never actually interviewed before taking the Cardinals head coaching job.
With these previous options now either elsewhere or staying in their current spot, Ballard is on the search again.
Right now, it sounds like New Orleans assistant Dan Campbell will interview with the Colts on Thursday and Philadelphia offensive coordinator Frank Reich is scheduled for Friday.
While Ballard must try to maintain a search that achieves some of the original pre-requisites he should have been looking for, that will not be as easy now a month into the coaching cycle, with the candidate pool dwindling and the Colts clearly settling for whoever takes this job.
So where do the Colts turn now?
-Former 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. Late in the McDaniels’ hiring process, Bevell was actually rumored to be an offensive coordinator option in Indianapolis, after Seattle let him go in January.
Biggest Question: Did Bevell do 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.
-New Orleans assistant head coach/tight ends coach Dan Campbell: This appears to be the first interview in the new head coaching search by the Colts. Campbell was the interim head coach in Miami (for Joe Philbin) back in 2015 and went 5-7 that season. The Colts could not interview Campbell during the Wild Card weekend of the playoffs because the Saints were hosting the Panthers in that round.
Biggest Question: Is Campbell qualified enough to the be a head coach in the league? Campbell, a former player, has never been a coordinator in the NFL. After 11 seasons as a player, Campbell, 41, became a position coach in 2011. He was in Miami as the tight ends coach for 5 years before joining Sean Payton in New Orleans for the last 2 seasons.
-Philadelphia quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo: This would be your Sean McVay-type of hire. At the age of 39, DeFilippo is thought to be an up-an-coming candidate despite minimal high-level coaching experience. DeFilippo, who helped develop Carson Wentz and get Nick Foles more than ready late in the year, did interview with the Arizona Cardinals in January.
Biggest Question: Like Frank Reich, hiring an offensive guy from Philly brings questions about how much of a role Reich or DeFilippo had with that side of the ball as head coach Doug Pedersen called the plays.
-Buffalo defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier: The NFL Network has thrown out Frazier’s name with Indy’s opening now back on the market. Frazier has history with Jim Irsay, having coached in Indy from 2005-06, serving as the team’s defensive backs coach during their Super Bowl XLI run. At the age of 58, Frazier has 4 seasons of NFL head coaching experience, going 21-32 with the Vikings (2010-13). Besides that, Frazier is a long-time defensive coach in this league.
Biggest Question: Does Frazier’s head-coaching experience give him a leg up on some of the others left? Frazier had one playoff appearance in his 3 full seasons as the head coach of the Vikings. Even though Frazier’s experience is vast in the NFL, there doesn’t appear to be too much of an overlap with Chris Ballard. With any defensive coach, you wonder how Chris Ballard would make such a hire considering Matt Eberflus is definitely going to be the new defensive coordinator here in Indianapolis.
-Philadelphia offensive coordinator Frank Reich: It’s hard to find many connections to the Colts this late in the process. But Reich has that with Jim Irsay. Reich was an assistant with the Colts from 2008-11 and certainly has the backing of Tony Dungy and Bill Polian. Reich has been an offensive coordinator for the last 4 years, 2 in San Diego and 2 in Philadelphia.
Biggest Question: Did Reich do enough in Philly with that offense to become a first-time head coach? Doug Pedersen calls the plays with the Eagles, so there’s a question of the offensive influence Reich did have on the Super Bowl champions. Reich has interviewed for head coaching jobs before, including with the Bears in January.
-Kansas City special teams coordinator Dave Toub: Despite a strong relationship with Ballard, Toub was surprisingly never initially interviewed by the Colts. 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.