INDIANAPOLIS – Ironically, Shane Steichen was the final interview the Colts conducted among the 21 interviews they ended up having during an exhaustive process lasting more than six weeks.
Clearly, the last impression resonated pretty well for Steichen.
The Colts had an initial Zoom interview with Steichen on January 14th, during the Eagles bye week to start the postseason.
And then three weekends later, Jim Irsay and the Colts decided to head to Philadelphia to get an in-person look at the Eagles play caller.
Irsay met with Steichen the Friday before the Eagles headed to Arizona for Super Bowl 57, and liked what he heard.
“We had an incredible conversation,” Irsay recalls. “It was a very long and thorough conversation and (Steichen) was just so impressive. He really was incredible in the interview. He showed incredible leadership, toughness, very fast mind, able to process information and disseminate information very quickly.
“I know from talking to Philip Rivers, him and I talked for a very long time about Shane. I know Philip said at one point (Steichen) threw away the play card and was calling plays from (his) head, which is savant like according to Philip.
“(Steichen) was so impressive.”
The following day in Philadelphia, Chris Ballard and several additional Colts staff members continued the in-person interaction with Steichen.
While Ballard has no previous working relationship with Steichen, he saw much of what Irsay experienced the day before in that Saturday in Philadelphia.
“High integrity, high character, brilliant football mind and philosophically we see the game the same way, which I think is important,” Ballard shared about Steichen. “We’re not always going to agree. There are times in the interview where we didn’t always agree and that’s okay. But we see the game the same way and how it needs to be played. I think that’s big for the relationship between the head coach and GM.”
The Colts interviewed 13 candidates in total, with backgrounds spanning every phase of the game.
If you take Ballard at his word, the notable and diverse quarterback history of Steichen was a pro, but not the deciding factor.
“Is it an added bonus? Yes,” Ballard said of Steichen’s quarterback history on the resume.
“We wanted to get the best fit for us and for the Colts organization. Shane fit that. We interviewed from defense to offense to special teams, from young to older. We had a very diverse group here and Shane kind of checked all the boxes. A few of them checked most of them, but Shane checked all of them, of what we were looking for.”
As far as trying to peg other candidates who were also high up on the Colts list, Irsay mentioned Rich Bisaccia, Raheem Morris and Aaron Glenn—one special teams coordinator and two defensive coordinators—as candidates who really impressed.
But even Irsay knows, given the state of the franchise and the quarterback position, Steichen was always going to be attractive.
“I think what we learned in the end was that we just felt that Shane had a lot of that offensive magic, which is hard to find in this league,” Irsay said. “Offense, in my mind, can be a little more complex and takes a longer time to develop. Knowing that we’re going to have to find a young quarterback to develop, that’s a key factor. But he had to show the leadership, he had to show that he had a presence and boy, did he come through with that in his interview. Because you have quiet people like Tom Landry or Tony Dungy and it doesn’t mean that they’re not great leaders. But I think with Shane, his mind, he’s very much like I said, multiple things at once, disseminating that information quickly. I think he has a very special mind for football. You have to have that at his position.
“We learned a lot. I think we were very excited just with how many people were excited to come here. That’s always tough as Chris knows talking to these guys afterwards, they were so thankful. It’s tough because it’s their dream, and that dream just didn’t come true, but Shane showed his stars shine the brightest.”
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