INDIANAPOLIS — A coaching search that spanned five weeks and combed through 14 initial candidates has finally come to an end.
The Indianapolis Colts have announced the hiring of Shane Steichen as their new head coach, putting the former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator at the helm of a team looking to rebound from a 4-12-1 season and seeking long-overdue stability at quarterback.
The move completes Steichen’s meteoric rise from quality control coach as recently as 2015 to now becoming one of 32 head coaches in the NFL.
The Colts will officially introduce Steichen during a news conference Tuesday afternoon with owner Jim Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard.
Although the Eagles’ pursuit of a title fell short in their 38-35 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII on Sunday, Steichen received significant credit for the team’s offensive resurgence the past two seasons. His ability to craft the offense around the talents of quarterback Jalen Hurts has been particularly notable, with Hurts joining Joe Montana and Steve Young as the only players to account for at least 370 total yards and four touchdowns in a Super Bowl.
Despite initial speculation that interim head coach Jeff Saturday was the front-runner for the job, the Colts followed through on their promise of a methodical coaching search. Their second round of interviews included eight candidates, with Saturday and Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris among the last other finalists to be eliminated.
The Colts conducted extensive interviews with candidates during the second round. One league source said that between initial virtual interviews and follow-up in-person interviews, the team spent between 16 and 18 hours with candidates who made it to the second round. Included in that total was multiple hours of individual meeting time with Irsay, who dived into the process despite his earlier stated affection for Saturday, a former All-Pro Colts lineman.
Steichen’s quarterback expertise is considered central to his fit with the Colts, who hold the fourth overall selection in the NFL draft and are widely expected to choose one of the top available quarterbacks.
Having worked with the likes of Philip Rivers, Justin Herbert and Hurts, Steichen has gained a reputation for getting significant production out of his quarterbacks. His work with Herbert during his rookie season could be applicable in Indianapolis if the Colts move ahead with a quarterback pick, as expected. Herbert threw 31 touchdowns and completed 66.6% of his pass attempts in his first season in 2020. Steichen was the Chargers’ offensive coordinator that season before joining the Eagles the following year.
Steichen, 37, has held several roles in his dozen years of NFL coaching. His first foray into the league came as a defensive assistant with the Chargers in 2011. He then permanently transitioned to offense when he joined the Browns in 2013 as an offensive assistant working with the team’s quarterbacks.
Steichen later returned to the Chargers in 2014 and consistently rose through the ranks in the organization from quality control coach to quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. In an interesting twist of fate, Steichen worked under offensive coordinator Frank Reich upon returning to San Diego.
Steichen now finds himself replacing Reich in Indianapolis after the former coach was fired in November.
Part of Steichen’s appeal is the unique adaptability he has displayed with his offenses. In 2020, when he was the offensive coordinator, the Chargers were sixth in the NFL passing yardage. The following year, his first in Philadelphia, the Eagles developed a potent running game and led the NFL in rushing.
If the hiring of Steichen feels familiar for the Colts, that’s because it should. The team hired Reich in 2018 after a stint as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator. Like Steichen, he landed in Indianapolis immediately after a trip to the Super Bowl, with the Eagles defeating the New England Patriots in February 2018.
Reich went 40-33-1 before he was fired after a Week 9 loss to the Patriots that dropped Indianapolis’ record to 3-5-1.