INDIANAPOLIS – The 2023 Colts season brought a change at head coach with the arrival of Shane Steichen.
In Year 1 of the Steichen era, the Colts overachieved by going 9-8 and getting to the brink of a playoff berth.
Let’s examine the 1st year as head coach for Steichen (after we did the same with Chris Ballard last week):
-Accountability is Alive: Whether it was on or off the field, we saw a difference in how the Colts handled playing time and discipline in 2023. You had benchings for poor play, no matter the status of said player. You had strong discipline off the field, including a rare 3-game, in-house suspension for both Tony Brown and Isaiah McKenzie, during the most important stretch of the season. Steichen is a man of few words in press conference settings, but his actions behind closed doors swung quite loudly at different points in his first season.
-Needed Presence for Anthony Richardson: Part of the pre-requisite for the Colts new head coach was going to have a detailed plan for developing a young quarterback. As the main offensive voice, Steichen ended up being the guy spearheading that plan. He is carrying the heavy burden to do the bulk of the teaching attention for Richardson, and the early signs of that were positive. Richardson’s career having Steichen is a really important presence for stability and growth.
-Giving The Offense a Jolt: Even if you put the limited Richardson playing time to the side, Steichen did a nice job with this Colts offense in 2023. Steichen had to deal with a variety of personnel issues, and the unit still was a pretty consistent scoring group, until some late-season struggles.
Losses/To Be Determined
-Defense Responsibility: It’s important to remember that Shane Steichen is the “head coach” of the Colts, so his responsibility includes all facets of the game. The defense is under his watch, so what happens with that unit is something he has to address. And the Colts finishing 28th in defense cannot be the norm moving forward. Steichen appears to be sticking with Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator. How Steichen would like his defense to be philosophically will be a major storyline in evaluating his coaching tenure.
-Head Coach vs. Play Caller Dilemma: This kind of plays off the one above a bit. But let’s focus more here on the offensive side of the ball. Context is important in any play call, so what a play caller wants on a given play might not make the most complete sense for the overall team (i.e. the 4th-and-1 decision vs. the Texans in Week 18). That’s where a head coach implores his voice to make the final decision. At times, and it wasn’t often, Steichen had some questions in balancing this area. Again, it wasn’t an abundant amount, but it did show up in a few critical moments. This was to be expected in Year One though.
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