Potential Head Coaching Candidates for the Indianapolis Colts

Following the lackluster start to the season, the Indianapolis Colts found themselves making massive changes within the franchise’s coaching personnel.

As a result of the team’s Week 8 loss to the Washington Commanders, the team immediately relieved Offensive Coordinator Marcus Brady of his duties. However, many considered Brady to be the scapegoat for head coach Frank Reich’s poor play-calling and coaching in general. Reich would take over all offensive coordinator duties along with his head coaching challenges ahead of their Week 9 visit to New England.

A week later, Reich would face his inevitable fate.

The Patriots handily defeated the Colts 26-3, while the Colts’ offense struggled, generating just 121 yards. The owner, Jim Irsay, decided he had seen enough. The same night, Irsay called Reich to break the news—the team would be moving on without him. A day later, news broke that Indianapolis would hire former Colt Jeff Saturday as interim head coach. A move shocking the football nation and causing controversy all around due to Saturday’s lack of coaching experience.

Irsay’s first call to Saturday came during Sunday’s beatdown. Questioning Saturday about what is wrong with the offense’s protection and why they were giving up so many sacks. Obviously, allowing nine sacks is certainly not the key to success. Irsay undoubtedly thought nobody else would be better to fix the issue than a Hall of Fame center.

Nonetheless, the Colts and Irsay have reiterated that the franchise will conduct a full head coaching search at the end of the season. Following all rules and guidelines in the search will be vital, especially the Rooney rule.

With that being said, here are some names to consider for Indy’s head coaching opening at the end of the season:

External Candidates:

DeMeco Ryans: San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans would be a highly coveted candidate for the Colts to consider. Ryans is one of the league’s most intelligent young defensive minds. The former NFL linebacker has worked his way up into his position over the years. Starting as a defensive quality control coach, the 38-year-old worked his way up as the Niners’ inside linebackers coach for three years before the promotion to DC. Under Ryan, the 49ers have had one of the best defenses in the league. A young coach could fit the time frame of a rebuild if the Colts plan on going that route.

Sean Payton: The most qualified coach on this list comes from former Saints head coach Sean Payton. Payton has welcomed the idea of getting back into coaching after his retirement last year. With a coaching record of 161–97 over 16 seasons and one Super Bowl win on his resume, it’s obvious any team would welcome his football IQ into their franchise. However, Payton recently expressed his disinterest in joining any dysfunctional organizations, and as of late, Indy looks as dysfunctional as they come.

Dan Quinn: Another former coach to add to the list of potential candidates. Dan Quinn has many years of coaching under his belt. The defensive-minded coach was the Head Coach of the Atlanta Falcons for six seasons (two of which were winning seasons). Following his midseason firing in 2020, Quinn rejuvenated his career in Dallas with the Cowboys. Could he get another shot at being the head coach in Indianapolis?

Mike Kafka: Another young NFL mind but on the offensive side of the ball. Mike Kafka is one of the fastest-rising coaching stars in the league. The former NFL QB has worked his way up in the coaching world at a quick rate. Following the Giants’ success, this season, despite their lack of playmakers, has been impressive. If not this offseason, Kafka could be considered for a head coaching position in the future.

Ken Dorsey: Ken Dorsey is another offensive-minded coach who would make a lot of sense in Indy. The 41-year-old has displayed his mind for the game in his first season as an offensive coordinator. The Bills currently lead the league in yards per game with 416.4, thanks in large part to the excellent play-calling of Dorsey. A head coaching spot may be in the near future for the former NFL player.

Eric Bieniemy: Eric Bieniemy has been in the talks for a head coaching job for the last couple of off-seasons. The offensive-minded coach has found success working under head coach Andy Reid, and executives around the league have taken notice. Although Reid calls the plays for the Chiefs, Bieniemy has done an outstanding job of game planning and putting the Kansas City offense in a position to succeed. The fit in Indianapolis could be interesting to watch, and Bieniemy is bound to be called for a head coaching vacancy in due time.

Jonathan Gannon: A familiar face could be in the mix to return to Indy. Jonathan Gannon spent time with the Colts for three seasons before joining Nick Sirianni’s coaching staff in Philadelphia. The 39-year-old has taken tremendous strides as a coach and is well-respected across the league. Not to mention, Gannon is a true players’ coach. Colts’ owner Jim Irsay and GM Chris Ballard could consider a reunion with Gannon in the offseason.

Kellen Moore: Kellen Moore is one of the league’s most intriguing head coaching candidates. Moore has worked his way into a position to be considered for a head coaching job following three strong seasons as the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator. The former college standout and NFL quarterback has inserted himself as a brilliant offensive mind on the rise.

Internal Candidates:

Bubba Ventrone: Bubba Ventrone has steadily been one of the bright spots on the coaching staff for Indy. Ventrone has been the mind behind the Colts’ special teams and among the best in the league over the past couple of seasons. The former safety is now a known players’ coach and one of the most respected coaches within the Colts’ organization. Many individuals believed Ventrone could be the initial interim head coach following the firing of Frank Reich. Perhaps the Special Teams Coordinator will get his well-deserved promotion this offseason.

Gus Bradley: Gus Bradley is currently the defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts. Despite the challenging year in Indianapolis, one of the few bright spots for the team this season has come from the defense. Although the initial start was slow defensively, the Colts’ defense has come on strong as of late and kept Indy in games longer than they should have been. With his head coaching years in Jacksonville and as the defensive coordinator in Seattle during the “legion of boom,” Bradley has the resume to be considered for the job.

Jeff Saturday: Jeff Saturday is an obvious name to mention in the head coaching search. Although his name likely wouldn’t have been mentioned until a week ago, now it’s only fair to consider him the man for the job. Saturday has an eight-game window to impress Jim Irsay and prove he’s the man for the job.

The head coaching search in Indianapolis will be a situation to monitor entering the offseason. With an abundance of qualified candidates for the Colts’ to consider, it will be an interesting hiring process to follow.