With coaching interviews set to get underway, another candidate has confirmed that he will be interviewing with the Colts on Friday. Seattle Seahawks Defensive Coordinator Kris Richard has quickly moved through NFL coaching ranks after he had his own short career in San Francisco and Seattle. He spent two seasons as an assistant defensive backs coach, three as the defensive backs coach and quickly received his opportunity to take over as the defensive coordinator in 2015 — all in Seattle.
No matter your standard for judging advancement through NFL coaching ranks, a five-year run through position coaching to land a coordinator position on one of NFL’s most dominant defenses is impressive. What may be even more impressive is what he has done to help develop talent for Seattle’s “Legion of Boom.” This is a very aggressive, press-man oriented secondary that has been showered with NFL recognition.
Consider that the only player who joined Seattle as a high draft pick in the Legion of Boom was Earl Thomas (14th overall). Every other player Richard worked with was a bargain in some capacity. Under Richard’s tutelage, undrafted Brandon Browner joined Seattle after spending time in the CFL and was selected to a Pro Bowl. Kam Chancellor was a fifth-round draft pick who has been to four Pro Bowls and was named a second-team All-Pro twice. Richard Sherman was a fifth-round draft pick who has been named a first-team All-Pro three times to go with four Pro Bowl nods overall.
Richard has been a part of a defensive coaching staff that has led the Seahawks defense to a top-5 rating in the NFL for five consecutive seasons from 2012-16. This season, with numerous players injured and his all-world defensive weapons suffering injuries (and aging), the Seahawks defense fell to 11th overall. Even Seahawks cast-off Pierre Desir came to Indianapolis with enough of a foundation that he was able to move into the starting lineup late in the season and make a strong case for a multi-year contract.
I have wanted the Colts to play an aggressive, in-your-face style of defense — particularly in the secondary — for quite some time. Quincy Wilson, Pierre Desir and Rashaan Melvin all were ideally suited for a physical play style. They’re all bigger corners and strong enough to knock receivers off their routes. Richard would be well-situated to use these players (if Melvin/Desir are retained in free agency) or others and do the most important thing a defense can do in the modern NFL: frustrate and limit an opponent’s passing game.
During his time in Seattle, he has coached under Pete Carroll and former Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn — who led the Atlanta Falcons to a Super Bowl. His players absolutely loved playing for him and even egos as large as Thomas, Chancellor and Sherman looked up to him as their leader and someone who had a profound impact on their careers. In terms of coaching trees, there is a lot to like.
The only glaring question mark is experience. He is only 38-years-old, has been coaching in the NFL for only 8 years, and has been relegated to the defensive side of the football.
Colts GM Chris Ballard made a couple of things very clear in his press conference earlier this week though. He made it clear that he wasn’t targeting a coach with a background on a specific side of the ball and that he doesn’t place a huge deal of emphasis on head coaching experience. He is looking for a leader, someone who will work well within his own vision for the team, and someone who he believes can fill the Colts coaching staff with teachers and player developers.
It’s hard to have any idea how developed Kris Richard’s head coaching binder has grown as he has developed through the ranks as an NFL coach. There is good reason to believe that for a coach that doesn’t have head coaching experience, his vision and how developed his coaching network is will go a long way in giving him a shot at the job.
One thing is for sure, he’ll be following one of the hottest young coaching talents in the NFL in Josh McDaniels. He’ll need to bring his A game.