According to SiriusXM NFL’s Alex Marvez, the Indianapolis Colts are leaning toward hiring Alabama Crimson Tide assistant head coach and defensive line coach Brian Baker as their new assistant defensive line coach:
While a final decision hasn’t been made, sources tell @SiriusXMNFL the @Colts are leaning toward hiring Brian Baker as their new assistant defensive line coach. Brian has 19 years of NFL coaching experience (D-line & OLBs) & spent 2019 as @AlabamaFTBL assistant HC & d-line coach— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) February 4, 2020
He also has NFL coaching experience, having served as a defensive line or outside linebackers coach for the San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, and Washington Redskins from 1996-2014.
As a result, Baker holds over 20 years of prior coaching experience.
Of course, the Colts coaching staff already has some familiarity with Baker, as he previously served as the Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach from 2011-12—along with then Cowboys linebackers coach, now Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus.
The Colts have had turnover along Eberflus’ defensive coaching staff this offseason, as former defensive line coach Matt Phair departed for a coaching job with the Carolina Panthers on new head coach Matt Rhule’s staff.
While Baker looks like he’ll be an “assistant” defensive line coach, with the Colts still bringing in their defensive line coach soon, he appears that he would be a nice addition to the Colts defensive coaching staff regardless.
Potentially Baker and whoever the Colts ultimately hire as their defensive line coach will have their work cut out for them from the get-go.
Per Football Outsiders, the Colts had the 15th best rated defensive line, which is right around the league average.
The Colts finished tied for 15th with 41.0 sacks this past season, and while young pass rusher Kemoko Turay impressed before a season-ending ankle injury—and veteran Justin Houston starred with 11.0 sacks, the rest of the defensive line didn’t necessarily have standout seasons (although Grover Stewart was rock solid at nose tackle and pass rusher Ben Banogu showed some flashes as a rotational player).
In particular, the interior of the Colts defensive line largely regressed.
Defensive tackle Denico Autry was still good, but wasn’t quite the same sheer pass rushing force he had been just a season earlier. Veteran Margus Hunt’s game really took a step back, while 3rd-year pro Tyquan Lewis had an entirely forgettable ‘sophomore season’.
The Colts will need defensive line coaches who get can get their veterans back to playing peak football such as Autry and especially Hunt, while continuing to developing their young players such as Turay, Stewart, Banogu, and Lewis.
If the Colts are looking to upgrade at defensive tackle early in the NFL Draft, Baker might also be a great resource for scouting on Alabama prized defensive tackle Raekwon Davis among other talented Crimson Tide prospects.
Time will tell whether Indianapolis ultimately hires Baker, but it’s definitely a situation to watch as the Colts completely overhaul their defensive line coaching staff.