As NFL fans await the start of Super Bowl 57, the rest of the NFL world refused to sleep. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning that the Philadelphia Eagles were set to lose their offensive coordinator at the conclusion of the Super Bowl. The Indianapolis Colts plan to name Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen their head coach.
The Colts hosted an exhaustive head coach search after firing Frank Reich nine games into the 2022 season. Reich won 40 of 74 games in five seasons with the franchise, but the team had stagnated after whiffing on veteran quarterback acquisitions Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan. After starting 3-5-1, the Colts shockingly replaced Reich with former Colts center Jeff Saturday.
Saturday was in consideration for the full-time job despite going 1-7 in his eight-game stint. However, the Colts, under general manager Chris Ballard, wisely opted for a coach more experienced and capable of developing a quarterback.
Let’s dive into Steichen’s history and what he’ll bring to the Colts franchise.
Colts Hire Shane Steichen To Develop a Quarterback
The Colts’ decision to hire Steichen is certainly understandable. Ballard’s tenure with the Colts has been successful outside of the most important aspect that determines whether someone keeps their job or not: finding and developing a quarterback. Steichen will need to do what Reich was unable to as the Colts opted for veterans who weren’t particularly good.
Expect that to change with Steichen impacting how the team uses the fourth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Steichen was the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Chargers in Justin Herbert’s rookie season in 2020, then helped develop Jalen Hurts into an MVP-caliber season in 2022 as the second-year OC with the Eagles.
The 37-year-old Steichen has shown he’s malleable enough to build around physically gifted quarterbacks with significantly different play styles. He started coaching with the Chargers in 2011 as a defensive assistant for two years, then switched to the offensive side of the ball when the Browns hired him in 2013. He returned to the Chargers one year later and worked his way to quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator.
His work with Herbert in 2020 wasn’t enough for Brandon Staley to keep him as his OC. But Steichen quickly proved Staley made a mistake in choosing Joe Lombardi over him. The Chargers fired Lombardi this offseason, while Steichen has built a top-10 scoring offense for three straight years. The Colts are desperately needing an injection of creativity and maximization of available talent that Steichen has shown.
Not only is it important for Steichen to identify which rookie quarterback he wants to develop but also to get the offensive line back to a high level of play. The Colts had an elite offensive line in 2020 and 2021 but fell off last year as injuries and poor play plagued the unit. They need to find that nasty attitude they seemed to lose.
The Colts have been a popular team to speculate about trading up for the No. 1 overall pick — they’re a convenient trade partner for the Chicago Bears. Steichen has worked with two strong-armed quarterbacks who needed mechanical tuning, and both rapidly became plus passers under his tutelage.
This would seemingly make higher-upside projects like Florida’s Anthony Richardson and Kentucky’s Will Levis more likely than the more limited Bryce Young of Alabama. Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud is a good middle-man option who has a good floor but might not have the superstar traits of Richardson in particular.