The Indianapolis Colts fired head coach Frank Reich on November 7, 2022, then promptly made the decision to hire former center Jeff Saturday as the interim head coach less than one week later. Saturday bottomed out after winning his first game, finishing the season 1-7. The Colts enter the offseason with the fourth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft class.
Let’s run through where things stand for the Colts’ head coaching search as the playoffs near. We’ll give the skinny on each of the candidates they’ve already scheduled for interviews.
Latest on the Indianapolis Colts’ Head Coach Search
Colts general manager Chris Ballard will be handling the Colts’ head coaching search after previously leading the search that led to hiring Reich. Their early process is favoring coordinators with zero head coaching experience. Let’s dive into each candidate’s background and qualifications.
Ejiro Evero, Broncos Defensive Coordinator
Evero, along with DeMeco Ryans, is one of the two most impressive defensive coordinators who are being considered for head coaching jobs this offseason. The 42-year-old has learned from some of the strongest minds in NFL history, including Jim Harbaugh, Dom Capers, Wade Phillips, and Morris. He overtook Vic Fangio’s defense and made it better in his first year in Denver.
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The Colts have a strong defensive foundation to build around, and Evero has experience utilizing heavy zone concepts. This could help keep the defense rolling at a high level while the offense is retooled through the draft and free agency. The key for Evero will be assembling an offensive staff that inspires Ballard’s vision.
For more, check out our Ejiro Evero NFL Head Coach Profile.
Aaron Glenn, Lions Defensive Coordinator
The Colts have requested an interview with 15-year NFL veteran cornerback Aaron Glenn. Glenn spent seven seasons as a defensive backs coach in Cleveland and then New Orleans before earning the defensive coordinator position under Dan Campbell in Detroit. His units have ranked 31st and 28th in points allowed over those two seasons.
Some of that was out of Glenn’s control, as the talent in the Lions’ back seven is far from strong. He’s still unproven as a great tactician and talent developer, making Glenn an interesting choice to interview. He might be best classified as a player’s coach for now since his on-field resume with Detroit is lacking.
I’d be shocked if Glenn were to be offered a head coaching job considering the quality of competition from other defensive coordinators around the league.
Jim Harbaugh, University of Michigan Head Coach
Harbaugh still hasn’t been scheduled to interview in Indianapolis but we have to acknowledge the continued reporting that the Colts are interested in the former San Francisco 49ers head coach.
Harbaugh appears to be angling for a new contract from Michigan but has faced resistance from the school despite his success. After interviewing for the Minnesota Vikings in 2022, he recently pushed to interview with the Carolina Panthers for their opening, but the Panthers were reluctant to even agree.
There appear to be two possible outcomes for Harbaugh as he faces an NCAA investigation for infractions: either Michigan pays him to stay in Ann Arbor long-term, or he calls their bluff and heads to the Denver Broncos or Colts.
Though someone of Harbaugh’s caliber would usually be able to name their staff and personnel director, both the Colts and Broncos have respected general managers in place. This pairing is truly dependent on Ballard and Harbaugh being able to co-exist.
For more, check out the pros and cons of hiring Jim Harbaugh.
Ben Johnson, Lions Offensive Coordinator
The Colts could strike gold with Johnson, the 36-year-old who was just promoted to play-caller and offensive coordinator before the season. Johnson was good enough to earn consideration despite his lack of tenure, producing a top-five offense while dealing with key injuries to his receiving corps and running back D’Andre Swift. His ability to scheme advantageous opportunities puts him among the best play-callers I saw throughout 2022.
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The big question with Johnson boils down to whether he’s ready for another step up so quickly. If he’s able to curate a strong staff of coordinators and is willing to give up some of the offensive control, so he avoids being overtasked, the Colts would be wise to consider giving him the keys to developing their next quarterback.
Raheem Morris, Rams Defensive Coordinator
Morris figures to be a popular candidate this offseason since his background checks so many boxes as a potential head coach. He’s been coaching in the NFL since 2002, garnering experience on both sides of the ball as a defensive backs coach, wide receivers coach, defensive coordinator, and head coach. Still, Morris is only 46.
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His first head coaching stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was filled with highs and lows. He went 10-6 in 2010, but that season was sandwiched by 3-13 and 4-12 finishes. His 10-6 season was a flash in the pan, as quarterback Josh Freeman had a moment of brilliance before cratering, and Morris produced the ninth-best defense in the league that season.
Since then, his defenses haven’t finished above 15th in points allowed. While Morris is a good candidate, he’s not a stellar one since his defenses have been closer to mediocre than great. He’ll need to have an excellent plan to build a competent offense to outdo his peers in interviews.
For more, check out our Raheem Morris NFL Head Coach Profile.
Shane Steichen, Eagles Offensive Coordinator
It makes for quarterback-needy teams to be looking closely at Steichen. The second-year offensive coordinator has done an excellent job helping a non-traditional quarterback in Jalen Hurts become an MVP candidate. The Eagles have a tremendous running game and creative RPO-based passing game that keeps defenses on their heels.
With the Colts unsure of who will be under center for them in 2023 and beyond, having a coach who can meld their scheme around a variety of skill sets will be important. Steichen could hopefully get the Colts’ offensive line back to its elite status and help develop a young quarterback into the franchises’ next star.
The 37-year-old is also being considered for the Houston Texans’ and Panthers’ openings.
For more, check out our Shane Steichen NFL Head Coach Profile.
Bubba Ventrone, Colts Special Teams Coordinator
The Colts interviewed Ventrone on Wednesday, as he was considered a favorite amongst the team’s players. Ventrone has spent five seasons in Indianapolis after previously serving three seasons in New England as the assistant special teams coach. The former nine-year NFL veteran is only 40 years old.
Jeff Saturday, Colts Interim Head Coach
Even though Saturday’s interim head coaching stint went as well as everyone except Colts owner Jim Irsay expected, Saturday seems to still have the chance to earn the full-time promotion. The Colts plan on interviewing Saturday. The 47-year-old even pled his case to the media following the conclusion of his 1-7 stint, stating “it would look different” if he were to have the time to establish himself.
Ultimately, if it’s Saturday who Irsay has a conviction on, then the 13-year Colts center will be the man in charge. Ballard admitted they put him in a tough spot to succeed, so I think there’s a better shot of Saturday earning the gig than him being just a novelty.
Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs Offensive Coordinator
Will this finally be the offseason where Bieniemy lands a head coach position? No coach has interviewed for more head coach openings without being hired than Bieniemy. He’s tallied 15 interviews with 14 different teams over the last four years.
The 53-year-old has been Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator for the last five years but hasn’t been calling plays. The former NFL running back has been around football his entire life, coaching at Colorado, UCLA, and with the Vikings previously. If Bieniemy can’t land a head coach gig, he may need to consider leaving the Chiefs for a position that can offer playcalling.
DeMeco Ryans, 49ers Defensive Coordinator
One of the best assistants in the NFL, I was surprised Ryans wasn’t getting more attention early on from the Colts. Ryans has interviews scheduled with four of the five teams with an opening. He’s led one of the most talented defenses in the NFL over the last two years after a long and successful NFL career.
The possibility of Ryans taking over the Colts defense is intriguing. Indianapolis would offer Ryans an athletic core to build around, which would be more attractive than the tear-down jobs in Houston and Arizona. This pairing makes a lot of sense.
Wink Martindale, Giants Defensive Coordinator
One of my favorite defensive coordinators in the NFL, Martindale has received little interest in head coaching searches in the past. The Colts would shift their defensive identity under Martindale to a more blitz-heavy, man unit that looks to force turnovers and sacks. This might be beneficial but would likely lead to personnel changes in the secondary.
Mike Kafka, Giants Offensive Coordinator
It was only a matter of time before Kafka became a hot interview candidate considering the remarkable run the Giants have been on this season. Kafka spent time under Andy Reid before promoting to the OC and play-caller under Brian Daboll’s watch. Though Kafka only has one year in his role, he’s proving to be a problem solver as he’s overcome personnel limitations with the Giants.
He’d represent a forward-thinking, aggressive move into the future for the franchise.
Dan Quinn, Cowboys Defensive Coordinator
After leading a Cowboys defense that has led the NFL in takeaways in each of the last two seasons, Quinn is back on top of several coaching searches. The 52-year-old was solid for much of his head coaching tenure in Atlanta, producing a Super Bowl run and a 43-37 run entering his final five games before being fired. But with two winning seasons in five-plus years, he was far from a star.
Quinn’s spent more time as a head coach as he has a defensive coordinator (four years). His defenses in Atlanta were subpar during that time, making me believe he’s in over his head as the top man, and instead better fit for a coordinator role.
Brian Callahan, Bengals Offensive Coordinator
The Colts added another interview request to their list, this time turning to the offensive coordinator of one of the league’s most powerful offenses. Callahan is the son of legendary offensive line coach Bill Callahan, and has been the Bengals’ offensive coordinator since 2019. The 38-year-old started coaching in the NFL in 2010 at 26 years old.
Callahan is certainly interesting but he doesn’t have playcalling experience. His background includes being an offensive assistant in Denver and a quarterbacks coach with the Lions and Raiders.