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A Reflective Examination of the Colts Search for a New Head Coach

The Colts are interviewing 3 more candidates for their head coach vacancy this week, but the past week has been a roller coaster of emotions for all of their fans

Arizona Cardinals v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Colts fans have been through a lot since the end of the 2017 seeason, take a ride with me through the past several weeks and the range of ups and downs that have come and gone.

Upon the finality of the Indianapolis Colts 2017 season, the yearning for a new head coach and supporting staff was understood by all who had any investment in the organization — fans, players and obviously the Colts new GM Chris Ballard.

Of course, ties would be cut swiftly and the team would prepare for the second season of its second large-scale transition in just six years. The candidates quickly became public knowledge and the interviews were underway. Matt Nagy was scooped up soon after interviewing with the Colts and Chicago Bears, with Chicago dropping their offer almost immediately.

I really liked Nagy, and if I’m being honest he was probably my initial favorite, despite the majority of Colts fans bickering about his play-calling in the second half of the Kansas City Chiefs‘ loss to the Tennessee Titans of their Wild Card loss. Those fans and I saw his part in that game differently, but that’s besides the point. Nobody sees everything the same, and that’s okay.

Mike Vrabel and Kris Richard were two others who took interviews with the Colts — Steve Wilks never did — with Vrabel being considered a finalist alongside Josh McDaniels. Things quickly came to a point and like most assumed McDaniels became the odds-on favorite. I was good with this. Richard didn’t push the buttons for me, Vrabel seemed like a reach as head coach at this point in his coaching career, and McDaniels getting paired with Andrew Luck was quite the sexy pairing to ponder.

McDaniels gets the nod, Ballard and Jim Irsay meet with him and we wait for the hire to be official. And we wait. Several teams make their coaching hires official, position coaches and coordinators are hired and every team with a vacancy takes the next step.

McDaniels pulls his stunt, and now we’re back to square-one. His timing is impeccable.

At this point all of us fight with our disdain for the New England Patriots organization. They’re scumbags, right? Taking every shot they possibly can at us, matching the pettiness of Ryan Grigson and the Deflategate garbage, and taking it to new heights. That’s how we see it, and ultimately, that’s exactly what happened.

Additionally, our leader was snookered in just his second offseason.

I have to admit, I wondered how a guy who has been praised for his ability to read people, to connect with those who others haven’t been able to — and has often come out shining on the other end of a risky union — could be hoodwinked so disastrously. I didn’t lose my trust in Ballard and the rest of his attributes though.

He’s still considered to be a great talent evaluator, a leader with the right vision and approach to contracts and team-building. Just maybe he doesn’t have a perfect hit rate on evaluating personalities as we once thought. Nobody gets it right all the time, right? I can live with that, it just happened to be a big whoopsy this time.

But then, as I questioned this about him, I watched his presser. If any of you think you were more PO’d than Ballard after the whole situation — you’re wrong. Fuming. Disappointed in himself that he not only got got, but that he put the organization in that position.

And then he said it.

No, not “The rivalry is back on,” though that was great too. No, he spoke almost in passing about what really stuck to me. What I loved more than anything about the entire press conference.

“You in, or you out? I didn’t want the explanation.” That perfect answer to an ex, or the lying acquaintance we all know that after screwing us over still wants to butter us up to feel better about being who they are. That.. was the real ‘drop the mic’ moment for me. That was that learning moment when Ballard determined that he wouldn’t get himself into another situation like that again.

For me, that was every bit as good as if the McDaniels situation never happened at all, and maybe even better.

Now we’ve got three new candidates: Frank Reich, Dan Campbell and Leslie Frazier all with specific attributes that Ballard respects. Reich and Frazier have ties to the Colts in their respective pasts, and Campbell brings a raw energy that most probably don’t. All of them, however, have playing experience in the NFL. That appears to be important to Ballard as most of the candidates he’s interviewed have been former players.

As I’ve already said a handful of times, Reich would be my pick for the Colts next head coach. However, I can see the allure with Campbell and reportedly Bill Parcels appears to hold him in very high regard. Frazier is the one who I’ve yet to really fall on one side or the other about.

He’s very much a Tony Dungy disciple, but 3 of his 4 seasons as a head coach were losing seasons. Granted, he was dealing with Brett Favre at his very latest when he took over as interim head coach, Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin were virtually his only weapons while Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder were his quarterbacks. The Vikings defense was beginning to show impressions of quality talent and play, but his offense was too anemic.

I don’t think Frazier would be a terrible hire, however, Reich gets me the most excited and the Colts have proven that they can win with a Luck-led offense that is in proper order despite an under-performing defense.

Regardless of how it goes down from here on out, I’m still confident in the Colts GM — I’m giving him a pass for this one, as should you — and I can only hope that his choice in this cycle to lead the Colts into the future is the right one.