The Athletic’s Stephen Holder has confirmed a report by FootballScoop that Indianapolis Colts defensive line coach Mike Phair will be leaving his current position to join the Carolina Panthers and their new defensive coordinator Phil Snow’s coaching staff:
Source confirms Colts D line coach Mike Phair is joining the Carolina Panthers staff. First reported by @FootballScoop. Colts will be looking for a replacement at a key spot.— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) January 13, 2020
It’s a big loss to the Colts coaching staff, but the head coaching carousel this time of year generally brings about changes to other teams’ coaching staffs league-wide.
The Colts are just the latest victim.
Phair had spent the last two seasons as the Colts defensive line coach and has over 15 years of coaching experience—having joined Indianapolis in 2018.
Despite losing emerging young pass rusher Kemoko Turay for 12 games due to a season-ending injury, the Colts finished tied for 15th with 41.0 sacks this past season.
Veteran pass rusher Justin Houston led the unit with 11.0 sacks in his debut campaign in Indianapolis.
Per FootballOutsiders, the Colts were the 15th best rated defensive line in 2019.
Of course, the Colts next defensive line coach will be tasked with not only continuing to develop young pass rushers such as Turay and last year’s second round pick Ben Banogu, but also figuring out 2018 second round pick Tyquan Lewis’ ‘sophomore slump’ at defensive tackle.
The Colts could also withstand to draft a dynamic, top defensive tackle prospect early in this April’s upcoming NFL Draft.
Young starter Grover Stewart has really come into his own as a run-stuffing defensive tackle at the ‘nose’, and Denico Autry remains a difference-maker pass rushing in the interior.
However, veteran Margus Hunt’s play really took a step back this past season.
Veteran defensive leader and versatile defensive lineman Jabaal Sheard is also set to become a free agent, and it’s uncertain if he’ll be re-signed.
With both Hunt (32) and Autry (29) getting up there in NFL years—and Sheard’s potential departure (who sometimes kicked inside on passing downs), the Colts could really look to add a long-term solution at defensive tackle.
The Colts next defensive line coach will have the challenge of developing young players—maybe even a top defensive tackle rookie prospect—as well as improving what was around a league average unit as a whole in 2020.