INDIANAPOLIS – Is what the Colts are seeking out in a new head coach matching the league’s recent trend?
Chris Ballard warned everyone this head coaching search could very well take a lot of time.
That’s held true, with Week 5 of the search underway, and the Colts still without a head coach.
If you look at the teams that have had the most success in the NFL as of late, you’ll see a common theme with those coaches.
They largely hail from the offensive side of the football.
In each of the last two years, the final four teams in the postseason were led by offensive-minded head coaches.
If you expand that to the final 8 teams in the playoffs, that number is 13 of the 16 teams in the past two seasons. Since 2021, Only Sean McDermott (twice with the Bills) and Mike Vrabel (Titans) have coached teams to the final 8 of the playoffs despite having a non-offensive background.
The trend is pretty clear: offensive coaches are winning in the NFL right now.
You saw it last year with 8 new hires (5 of offensive head coaches and 3 of defensive head coaches). Four of the five offensive-minded HCs finished over .500 in Year One, while none of the defensive coaches did. And one of the defensive head coaches (Lovie Smith) was fired.
But more than the offensive focus, the two main decision-makers in the Colts head coaching search have often used another word when seeking out a new coach.
“When you’re looking for head coaches, leadership’s the No. 1 thing,” Jim Irsay said back in November, during the Frank Reich firing/Jeff Saturday hiring press conference.
“That’s the No. 1 thing.”
When you examine the Colts reported second interview candidates over the past few weeks, you had 2 of the 8 candidates with an offensive background—Brian Callahan and Shane Steichen.
Several of the candidates were on that list because of their strong reputations as leaders, including Raheem Morris (great connector), Wink Martindale (think Bruce Arians), Aaron Glenn (blunt, aggressive) and Rich Bisaccia (lauded for two-decade long leadership).
That staunch belief in finding a ‘leader’ first, before a preference on the side of the ball, is something Irsay and Chris Ballard both align with.
Remember, the love for Jeff Saturday’s accountability has always been there from Irsay and Ballard.
Does that mean we should be putting more stock into some of those other defensive/special teams coaches, even though there’s a clear shift in how the NFL’s best teams are led?
Obviously, the goal would be to find a happy medium between bright offensive mind and strong leader.
Back in November, Irsay added a few more things he’s looking for in a head coach.
“That also has a toughness level there,” the Owner said. ”Highly intelligent. That’s very important. You have to be a great thinker, you have to be able to work with people, you have to be open-minded, you have to create a culture where people trust you. You have to know the game, you have to have experience, you have to be able to draw upon experience in your life to come forward and do what a head coach does in this league. It’s very difficult. There are lots of coordinators that aren’t good head coaches. Certain people just have it. They have it. You see it when you know it.”
For a team needing to invest aggressively in finding the next franchise quarterback, should that ‘it’ be more of an offensive mind, given the need to provide clear direction and stability for the most growth possible with that player?
While many would argue that should be the case, do not rule out the importance of a ‘leader’ when it comes to the Colts eventually putting an end to this month-long search.
Colts Face Anthony Richardson Playing Time Dilemma
Colts OTA Notebook Week 1: Anthony Richardson Impresses Shane Steichen
Colts OTA Notebook Week 2: Gardner Minshew Takes All Starting Reps
Does Michael Pittman Deserve Contract Extension This Offseason?
Female Drivers in the Indy 500
Colts Sign Former First-Round Pick Breshad Perriman
Is Josh Downs Ideal Complement To Colts Wide Receivers?
Bounce Back Year Coming For Kenny Moore?