INDIANAPOLIS – In Chris Ballard’s now 7 years as Colts general manager, it’s very clear he practices patience.
Another example of that is how Ballard has led this search for the Colts new head coach.
Through two weeks of the offseason, Ballard has conducted interviews with 13 different candidates.
They span all sides of the ball and include two names with head coaching experience (Raheem Morris and Dan Quinn).
And despite that list growing to a baker’s dozen, it doesn’t have the two ‘biggest’ names of this coaching cycle in Jim Harbaugh and Sean Payton.
On the Payton front, he made it very clear throughout the process that stability in the front office and strong ownership would influence his interest level. Did Jim Irsay’s meddling actions this past year lead to Payton speaking with the 4 other teams looking for a new coach, but not the Colts?
While Harbaugh talked with Denver and Carolina, how much did the presence of Ballard overseeing the personnel influence the Colts not following through on an interview?
While Ballard has interviewed two internal candidates for the opening, he’s yet to dip into the college ranks, which is something he did back in 2018 when interviewing then Baylor head coach Matt Rhule.
Week 1 Interviews
–Wednesday: Bubba Ventrone (Colts special teams coordinator)
–Thursday: Ejiro Evero (Denver defensive coordinator); Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs offensive coordinator)
–Friday: Raheem Morris (Rams defensive coordinator); Ben Johnson (Lions offensive coordinator, has since withdrawn from all head coaching jobs)
–Saturday: Aaron Glenn (Lions defensive coordinator); Shane Steichen (Eagles offensive coordinator)
Week 2 Interviews
–Thursday: Jeff Saturday (Colts interim head coach)
–Friday: Rich Bisaccia (Packers special teams coordinator); Brian Callahan (Bengals offensive coordinator); Dan Quinn (Cowboys defensive coordinator)
–Sunday: Mike Kafka (Giants offensive coordinator); Don ‘Wink’ Martindale (Giants defensive coordinator)
Based off those names, the ‘side of the ball’ breakdown on the Colts candidates is as followed: 6 on offense (including Saturday), 5 on defense, 2 on special teams.
This doesn’t include 49ers DC-DeMeco Ryans, who has yet to have an initial interview. Ryans reportedly interviewed with the Broncos and Texans over the weekend, but opted to postpone interviews with the Colts and Cardinals.
Will Ryans reschedule with the Colts, and will Ballard be content enough to wait for that to happen?
One thing to keep in mind with the Colts clearly opting for an extensive process, as Ballard warned a couple of weeks back, could multiple of these names be on the Indy staff next season?
For example, if the Colts hire a defensive-minded coach, would the offensive coordinator job in Indy be attractive to someone who is not calling the plays in their current situation right now (i.e. Bieniemy or Callahan?). Would those guys find an Indy OC opportunity better to bolster their resume/head coaching candidacy in the future?
On the flip side, if the Colts make more of an offensive hire, they would still be searching for a defensive coordinator. Evero, who was with Devner last year, could be available, depending on how his other interviews play out.
As we pointed out back when Frank Reich was fired in early November, the Colts are wise to have interest in Ryans and Callahan.
In each of the last two seasons, it’s been very impressive to see the units coordinated by Ryans (49ers defense) and Callahan (Bengals offense) play massive roles in helping their respective teams get back to the Final Four. Both of those teams had to play on Wild Card weekend in each of the years, including 5 of the 9 away from home.
But if the Colts want to explore those possibilities further, they will have to continue to exude patience.
Unless the Colts still want to expand the list of new candidates for a first interview or begin to start second interviews with candidates, it could be a quiet week on the search front.
NFL rules play into this.
For coaches still remaining in the playoffs, interviews are prohibited until next Monday (January 30th).
That would involve 3 coaches the Colts have already interviewed: Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs OC), Shane Steichen (Eagles OC), Brian Callahan (Bengals OC). It would also include the previously mentioned Ryans.
If the Colts want to interview the candidates still alive in the playoffs again, they can do that next week, no matter what happens this Sunday win or lose. Those candidates, even if they are coaching in the Super Bowl, would be eligible to interview in the week off (January 30th-February 5th).
Given that, while the 13-name list is likely to be trimmed soon, any potential hire is not imminent.
Also, as the Colts eventually move into the next phase of their head coaching searching, expect more attention from Jim Irsay in the process.
For more detail on all of the Colts head coaching candidates, head here.