According to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero, three Indianapolis Colts coaches have been named in his 5th annual ‘Young NFL Coaches to Watch’ List—citing the league’s upcoming hiring cycle and a robust pool of rising youthful candidates to choose from:
Colts special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone, 39: A 10-year NFL special teams standout who won Super Bowl LI as a member of the Patriots’ staff, Ventrone started his coaching career as a special teams assistant in 2015 before getting the Colts’ coordinator job three years later. He learned under the likes of Bill Belichick, Frank Reich and longtime NFL special teams coach Brad Seely. Ventrone is detailed. He has presence. He’s experienced in game management and is known as a good talent evaluator who understands big-picture roster management, in a job that already requires him to work with the entire team. Ventrone coaches players hard, and they respect him for it. Head-coaching hires from special teams posts are rare, but Ventrone is one to watch.
Others to watch in coming years
Colts OC Marcus Brady, 42
Colts senior offensive assistant Press Taylor, 33
Ventrone, 39, has coached the Colts into one of the NFL’s best special teams units since his arrival in 2018. The Colts were ranked as having the league’s 4th best special teams unit last season by Rick Gosselin’s infamous annual rankings.
Currently, PFF (subscription) ranks the Colts with the NFL’s 10th best special teams units with a +90.2 overall special teams grade.
While the Colts have strong players on special teams: punter Rigoberto Sanchez, 2020 Pro Bowl special teamer George Odum, punt returner Nyheim Hines, and linebacker Jordan Glasgow among them, these are units that are carried more by the collective ‘sum of their parts’ rather than being carried by a ‘top-heavy’ elite kicker and punter tandem—the way those Adam Vinatieri & Pat McAfee Colts’ special teams units from days of recent old were.
That’s a clear credit to Ventrone’s coaching.
There have been some former special teams coordinators, who’ve transformed into some of the league’s best all-time head coaches: Bill Belichick and John Harbaugh among them, but the early returns on new New York Giants head coach Joe Judge have been below average at 3-6 so far around midseason of the 2021 campaign.
So, it’ll be interesting to see how the league’s consensus views special teams coordinators as viable potential head coaching candidates going forward into the future.
Meanwhile, 42-year old freshly elevated Colts offensive coordinator Marcus Brady, who was formerly the team’s quarterbacks coach, has to be credited with some of the reclamation success of Indy starting quarterback Carson Wentz, who’s thrown 17 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions so far this season—and looks much improved from a disastrous last season in Philadelphia.
Lastly, and joining him in getting Wentz increasingly comfortable in Indy is former Philadelphia Eagles coaching castoff Press Taylor, 33, who’s in his first year with the Colts as a senior offensive assistant. Taylor would presumably have to rise to an NFL offensive coordinator though before being seriously considered for a head coaching gig one would realistically think.
All three remain young names to watch coming up this next offseason for potential coaching elevations and/or head coaching candidate positions respectively.