HomeSportsWhy Eagles OC Shane Steichen is a strong fit to lead Colts

Why Eagles OC Shane Steichen is a strong fit to lead Colts

This has been the writing on the wall for the Colts: Their veteran quarterback carousel will end in 2023, after years of spinning round and round, with a young signal-caller Indianapolis hopes can be its franchise quarterback. With the No. 4 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and the possibility to move up even higher, the team is positioned to grab its guy. Finally. 

So naturally, a history of quarterback development seemed to be an obvious attribute for owner Jim Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard to look for in the next Colts head coach.

Apparently, that quality was a must-have for Indianapolis. 

The Colts on Tuesday officially named Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, 37, to be the 21st head coach in franchise history, concluding one of the most exhausting coaching searches in recent NFL memory. 

Steichen had been Philadelphia’s offensive playcaller for the past season and a half. In 2022, he was at the forefront of Jalen Hurts‘ transformation from an average to an elite quarterback. The 24-year-old Hurts was named to his first Pro Bowl and finished second in NFL MVP voting behind Patrick Mahomes. Hurts’ brilliance shined through in the Eagles’ Super Bowl LVII loss to the Chiefs, when he completed 71% of his passes for 304 yards and a touchdown and added five carries for 70 yards — a Super Bowl record for a quarterback — and three touchdowns. 

In seven seasons with the Chargers — with whom he rose from an offensive quality control assistant (2014-15) to quarterbacks coach (2016-19) and offensive coordinator (2020)  — Steichen also worked with former Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers and a rookie Justin Herbert

Among his 15 seasons as a starter, Rivers played some of the best ball of his career with Steichen as quarterback coach. In 2018, Rivers tied his career-best passer rating (105.5), and also had his second-highest completion rate (68.3%) and touchdown rate (6.3%). In 2017, he had his best interception rate season (1.7%). 

Herbert, of course, had a record-setting rookie season in 2020, when Steichen was the offensive coordinator. He broke the NFL rookie record for passing touchdowns (31) and threw for more than 4,000 yards en route to AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. 

The talent of the Eagles offense this past season aside, Steichen (in collaboration with coach Nick Sirianni) did a great job of building the unit around Hurts’ strengths. The former second-round pick drastically improved as a passer — he completed a career-high 66.5% of his passes for 3,701 yards and 22 touchdowns with just six interceptions in 15 games — but was also unleashed as a runner, his strength in college. In 2022, he rushed 165 times for 760 yards and a career-high rushing 13 touchdowns, by far the most among quarterbacks. 

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There’s irony in that the Colts’ answer for head coach has direct ties to their old one, Frank Reich, whom they deemed to no longer fit to lead the team after four and a half seasons. As a Chargers offensive quality control coach, Steichen worked under Reich, the team’s offensive coordinator at the time. 

But Steichen’s résumé speaks for itself, boasting experience guiding multiple high-level quarterbacks who are nothing alike in different schemes. That lends itself to whomever the Colts decide to draft. At quarterback, Alabama‘s Bryce Young, Ohio State‘s C.J. Stroud, Kentucky‘s Will Levis and Florida‘s Anthony Richardson will all be options. 

Ultimately, quarterback development wizardry alone won’t make Steichen a successful coach. There’s so much more that comes with the Colts job — from cultivating a vision, building the right staff and bringing in the players to maximize a team that was consumed in chaos last season. It’s why we’ve seen more than a month of interviews in this head coach search, which started with at least 13 candidates.

For Indianapolis, Steichen must be the right man for their quarterback and the team. Only time will give us that answer.

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