Head Coaching Candidates
Dennis Allen (Saints Defensive Coordinator) — Allen is a low-key candidate who many have their eyes on. The Saints defense did a complete 180 in 2017, led by defensive player of the year candidate Cameron Jordon. Allen, who is a former head coach, has spent the last few years slowly rebuilding the defense and the Saints' patience with Allen has paid off. His experience as a head coach might make him an attractive candidate around the league.
Bruce Arians (Cardinals Head Coach) — Arians is expected to walk away from coaching (not just the Cardinals), but if he were to reconsider retirement, Indianapolis might be a good fit for Andrew Luck's old offensive coordinator. He always considered Indianapolis to be his "lucky place".
Tom Cable (Seahawks Assistant Head Coach & Offensive Line Coach) — Many disagree with the potential Cable to Colts connection, and while it may be a surprising, it has been reported that Cable is a potential candidate for the Colts. Cable was the head coach of the Raiders for 3 seasons, amassing a 17-27 record.
Jeff Fisher (Free Agent) — Love him or hate him (most people hate him), he's back on the market.
Josh McDaniels (Patriots Offensive Coordinator) — McDaniels has been a popular name for the last few seasons. He was once head coach of the Denver Broncos, but had two disappointing seasons. The majority of his success as an NFL coach has come with the New England as their offensive coordinator. Coaching under Bill Belichick and with Tom Brady can be viewed as either good or bad. McDaniels to Indianapolis rumours should start picking up soon. The Colts have requested an interview with McDaniels.
Matt Nagy (Chiefs Offensive Coordinator) — While he may be the most inexperienced coordinator on this list, Nagy has made an impact in his two years as offensive coordinator of the Chiefs. His offensive line is one of the best in football, Alex Smith is having a career year and we've seen Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce take off in this offense. This is the most explosive the Chiefs have been in years and that's thanks to Nagy's system. He also comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree, which has created many great coaches over the years. He's sure to get some looks.
Matt Patricia (Patriots Defensive Coordinator) — Patricia has been a name that has been thrown around the last few seasons, but no team has seriously considered him. His defenses always outperform their talent level and while that may have a lot to do with Bill Belichick, Patricia is an important figure on that team. He is sure to get a lot of interviews this offseason.
Frank Reich (Eagles Offensive Coordinator) — Frank Reich had a great season with Doug Pederson and John DeFilippo in Philadelphia. He helped turn around a struggling and inconsistent offense and helped in the development of Carson Wentz. He spent two seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Chargers in 2014 and 2015. He also spent time several years ago as the receivers and quarterbacks coach with the Colts, so he is familiar with management and the Irsays. He might get an interview with the Colts due to his familiarity with the franchise.
Jim Schwartz (Eagles Defensive Coordinator) — Schwartz is one of the hottest candidates on the market. His revival of the Eagles' defense is largely due to his scheme and his aggressive style of coaching. He has a fantastic resume as a defensive coach (with the Titans, Bills and Eagles), and took the Lions to the playoffs in 2011 as their head coach. WIth 5 years of experience as a head coach and 3 different successful stints as a defensive coordinator, Schwartz should be a head coach in the NFL next season.
Pat Shumur (Vikings Offensive Coordinator) — What Shurmur did with a bunch of backups is nothing short of spectacular. He led a top 10 offense with a backup quarterback, two backup running backs and a few injured offensive linemen. He helped develop Donovan McNabb and Sam Bradford at the beginning of their careers. He also has experience as a head coach, which might help or hurt his case.
Dave Toub (Chiefs Special Teams Coordinator) — Toub has been a hot candidate for the last few seasons, but no team has pulled the trigger on him. He continues to field one of the best special team units in the NFL and is one of the more respectable coaches in league circles. We've seen with John Harbaugh that teams should not be shy to hire a special teams coordinator as their head coach. With his connection to Chris Ballard, he'll get a long, hard look and is sure to get interviewed with the Colts.
Mike Vrabel (Texans Defensive Coordinator) — Vrabel has been a popular name ever since he took over the defensive coordinator job last season. He coaches one of the better defenses in the league and is viewed as a very good leader. He might not get a head coaching job this year, but he's sure to be one in the future and will get some looks this season.
Steve Wilks (Panthers Defensive Coordinator) — Wilks has been an important figure on the Panthers for the last few seasons and this past year he became the defensive coordinator after Sean McDermott departed for Buffalo. Wilks manages one of the best defenses in the league and also calls the plays. The Colts have requested an interview with Wilks.
Jim Harbaugh (Michigan Head Coach) — While it may seem like a long-shot, it'd be foolish to completely write this potential match off. Harbaugh played for the Colts as a player and coached Andrew Luck in college. Michigan is also coming off a lackluster season and is seeing his number of critics rise.
Chris Petersen (Washington Head Coach) — There have been rumours in recent years that Petersen is looking to make the jump to the NFL. Petersen may be more of a long-shot than Harbaugh, but it's worth putting his name down. Petersen is a spread offensive coach who puts a lot of emphasis on rhythm passes and speed from the wide receiver position.
David Shaw (Stanford Head Coach) — Shaw has had a lot of success at Stanford, taking over from Jim Harbaugh in 2011. Shaw coached Andrew Luck and had a lot of sucess together. A few Stanford players have been drafted to the Colts throughout the last few years (Luck, Fleener, Anderson and some others), which is a sign of management liking that system.
Offensive Coordinator Candidates
Bill Callahan (Redskins Assistant Head Coach & Offensive Line Coach) — Callahan is one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL, and is the architect of two of the best offensive lines in the NFL (Cowboys and Redskins). The Colts desperately need someone who can turn around the play of their offensive line, as they haven't had a good offensive line coach since Howard Mudd. Callahan has extensive experience as a coordinator and a head coach and could be the right guy to lead the Colts offense and revive the offensive line.
Rob Chudzinski (Current Colts Offensive Coordinator) — He's still the offensive coordinator so he can technically remain as the offensive coordinator next season, although that seems unlikely. Chudzinski has been with the Colts since 2014 and the offensive coodinator for the past two seasons.
John DeFilippo (Eagles Quarterback Coach) — DeFilippo is one of the hottest names on the market and is poised to become an NFL head coach one day. He helped develop Carson Wentz into one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL and helped turn around a struggling Eagles offense. DeFilippo might jump for an NFL head coaching job soon, so if he's given the job, he might only coach in Indy for a season.
Scott Linehan (Cowboys Offensive Coordinator) — There are rumours that the Cowboys are looking to replace Linehan (potentially with Todd Haley). Linehan's 2017 season was marred by inconsistent play and many believe his job in the last few seasons was aided by an extremely talented offense. Nevertheless, he has a lot of experience in the NFL and has had success with a few franchises.
Mike McCoy (Former Broncos Offensive Coordinator) — McCoy has bounced around the league the last few years and it seems like he's a hit or miss type of coach. He'll either have one of the best offenses in the league or an offense that underperforms. That type of risk might disqualify him from many jobs, but I expect him to get some looks around the league.
Scott Milanovich (Jaguars Quarterbacks Coach) — Milanovich turned around the Toronto Argonauts in the CFL and eventually led them to a Grey Cup and it seems like he saved Blake Bortles' career. Bortles had a career year in Jacksonville in 2017 (21:13 TD to INT ratio and 60% completion percentage). The Jags found some success in the passing game this season. Milanovich is well-liked figure in league circles and could find himself in a coordinator role next season.
Bill Musgrave (Broncos Offensive Coordinator) — The Oakland Raiders offense was not the same without Musgrave in 2017 as they took a huge step backwards. Musgrave, who is a very good quarterbacks coach, could be a very good fit in Indianapolis as he has a good amount of experience as a coordinator.
Greg Olsen (Rams Quarterback Coach) — The Rams turnaround has been remarkable. Todd Gurley is arguably the MVP of the league, their offensive line is one of the best in football and their quarterback, Jared Goff, is playing extremely well. Goff's strong play has a lot to do with Sean McVay, his staff, and his system. Greg Olsen is the quarterback's coach and has done a great job in developing Goff. His improvements stand out on tape. Olsen has been an offensive coordinator for 5 different teams and has been successful when he's paired with an offensive minded head coach.
Brian Schottenheimer (Colts Quarterbacks Coach) — It may seem like a long-shot, but Schotty has experience as an offensive coordinator and has spent a year with the Colts and knows Andrew Luck. Don't be surprised if he gets an interview!
Norv Turner (Free Agent) — The former head coach of the Chargers is a very intriguing candidate. He has had success almost everywhere he's went and has a tremendous amount of experience as a head coach and offensive coordinator; perhaps more than any other person on this entire list! If he's ready to return, running the offense in Indianapolis might be a great fit, but as we saw in Minnesota, it's obvious that he needs to be the one calling the shots on offense.
Defensive Coordinator Candidates
Dom Capers (Packers Defensive Coordinator) — There are reports that Dom Capers is out as the defensive coordinator of the Packers, and with his extensive experience as a head coach and a coordinator, he might be the right guy to lead the Colts' young defense. He has a Super Bowl ring and has fielded some impressive top 5 defenses over the years.
Romeo Crennel (Texans Assistant Head Coach for Defense) — Crennel is one of the best minds in the business with tons of experience and rings to show for it. The one big knock is his age and at 70 years old, some might question his durability and his motivation.
Vic Fangio (Bears Defensive Coordinator) — John Fox is expected to be fired from the Bears, leaving Fangio's future in doubt. Fangio has quietly been one of the best defensive coordinators in the league, turning two defenses (49ers and Bears) into legitimate top 12 defenses.
Mike Pettine (Free Agent) — Mike Pettine is currently a free agent (did some consulting for the Seahawks earlier this year) after being fired from the Browns in 2015, but has an impressive resume. He spent many years with Rex Ryan in Baltimore and New York (Jets), and wherever he went, he fielded a top 5 defense that went far in the playoffs. Pettine, if he's ready to return, can be a sneaky good choice.
Jim Tomsula (Redskins Defensive Line Coach) — Perhaps a bit of a long-shot, Tomsula has done a fantastic job with the Redskins defensive line, turning a bunch of backups and cast-offs into a legitimate defensive line. Tomsula is a well-liked players coach and could be the right guy to motivate a young Colts defense. No matter where he coaches, he gets the most out of his players.
Jack Del Rio (Fired Raiders Head Coach) — Del Rio was fired from the Raiders and is currently a free agent. Del Rio has a great resume and has been a coach on many fantastic defenses. He is also a great leader who is beloved by his players. If a team is looking for a very experienced defensive coordinator with a proven track record wherever he goes, look no further than Del Rio.
Perry Fewell (Jaguars Defensive Backs Coach) — Perry Fewell had a phenomenal season in Jacksonville, coaching arguably the best secondary in the league led by arguably the best cornerback duo in the league. He has extensive experience as a defensive coordinator, winning a Super Bowl with the Giants in 2012 as their coordinator. Fewell should be a defensive coordinator somewhere in 2018.
Jerry Gray (Vikings Defensive Backs Coach) — The Vikings have one of the best secondaries in the league and a lot of that success has to do with Jerry Gray. Gray has experience as a defensive coordinator with some success. He might not be an ideal candidate this season, but should get some eyeballs on him either way.
Marvin Lewis (Bengals Head Coach) — Lewis's future is also up in the air. Although it seemed like he was going to be fired, it has been reported that he wants to return to the Bengals. If he is fired, he'll be a hot candidate as he has always been known to be one of the best defensive minds in the game.
Greg Schiano (Ohio State Defensive Coordinator) — Schiano runs one of the best defenses in college football and did a phenomenal job in 2017 against some of the best teams in the country. He is an aggressive-minded coach who might be looking to make the jump back to the NFL.
Richard Smith (Chargers Linebackers Coach) — Smith has experience as a defensive coordinator and has done a great job in Los Angeles developing Denzel Perryman and Jatavis Brown, turning both into very good starters. With his experience and a good season in Los Angeles under his belt, he might be an interesting 4-3 candidate.
Steve Spagnuolo (Giants Defensive Coordinator and Interim Head Coach) — Spagnuolo has had 2 very interesting seasons with the Giants. In 2016, he led one of the best defenses in the league and in 2017 he led one of the worst defenses in the league. Both teams had essentially the same personnel. He is an aggressive minded coach, which might be needed for certain teams.
Head Coach: Dave Toub
I've always thought the John Harbaugh coaching hierarchy was the most effective for an NFL franchise. On top of the Ravens, the Patriots utilize it, as well as the Seahawks. It's a style that has a versatile coach in charge of the overall team but not in charge of the individual units. That versatile coach has a hand in each of the three teams, and aids in the game-planning before each week's game.
This style allows for the coach to have less stress on him during the game and allows him to focus more on game scenarios (also known as game management). He leaves the play-calling and many personnel decisions to his coordinators.
Toub is also a fantastic special teams coach and fields one of the best units in the NFL. He would make the Colts special teams unit a legitimate one and has a resume to prove that.
Offensive Coordinator: John DeFilippo
DeFilippo is one of the hottest offensive coaches in the NFL. He helped developed Carson Wentz and was instrumental in the development of Derek Carr. During his one season as the Browns offensive coordinator, their offense made tremendous improvements and was fired only because of a "cleaning house" situation. Because of his great resume with developing and working with quarterbacks, I believe he would make a tremendous candidate for offensive coordinator.
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Pettine
This was the toughest choice. I like Pettine because he is a 3-4 coach and I believe the Colts personnel is much better suited for a 3-4 defense than a 4-3 defense. Pettine has a great resume and has been a coach on some of the best defenses in the past 15 seasons. He also has experience as a head coach, so he knows how to lead a group. I feel he is the perfect candidate to run the defense.