Blog Entry

The next Colts head coach: the early candidates

Posted on: January 17, 2012 5:09 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 5:11 pm
Who are the likely coaching candidates now that Jim Caldwell is out in Indy? (Getty Images/US PRESSWIRE)

By Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson

It's that time of year: head coaches get fired and we speculate as to who will replace them. On Tuesday, the Colts dismissed Jim Caldwell after a 2-14 effort this season. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that it took so long. Owner Jim Irsay got rid of Bill and Chris Polian early this month but Caldwell's future hung in the balance until Indianapolis hired a new general manager. The team announced Ryan Grigson in that role last Wednesday, and six days later, Caldwell was let go.

Which brings us to this: who's on our very early list of potential replacements? Glad you asked.

Brad Childress

Any other head-coaching gig and Childress probably wouldn't get much consideration. But the Colts are different. Whatever their plans are for Peyton Manning and/or Andrew Luck, the coach, at least in recent history, has served more as facilitator than a fire-and-brimstone motivator. Childress is best (and perhaps unfairly) remembered for selling his soul to convince Brett Favre to be Minnesota's quarterback.

That PR disaster aside, Childress was 39-35 in five years with Minnesota (including 10- and 12-win seasons in 2008 and 2009), and the Vikings were one Favre interception away from the Super Bowl in '09.

Before arriving in Minnesota, Childress served capably as Philadelphia's offensive coordinator (2003-05). Since the Colts already have a franchise QB (possibly two by late April), Childress won't have to worry about shuttling players to Mississippi to convince an over-the-hill quarterback to play one more season.

Marty Mornhinweg

Some might cringe at Mornhinwheg here considering he won five games in two seasons in a previous stint as an NFL head coach. But he's got an easy out: that was with the Lions. Also, he's worked for the Eagles since 2006, meaning he and Grigson have plenty of time as colleagues. Mornhinwheg's passing offenses have been consistently ranked in the top 10 or 15 in the NFL, and that's a huge plus for a team that's likely draft Andrew Luck first overall in three months. Mornhinwheg would go into a situation where the expectations would be low with a rebuilding franchise. Grigson running the show would mean that Mornhinwheg would get significantly more patience from his bosses than he might in a different situation.

Wade Phillips

Much like Childress, Phillips wouldn't be the first name that came to mind for most head-coaching opportunities. But again, Indy's a different situation, and Phillips, while short on charisma, is long on experience. He's also a proven defensive coordinator, something the Colts are going to need if the Luck era begins this summer.

Plus, there's this: Grigson is 39 years old. Would Irsay want an unproven GM paired with an unproven head coach? One or the other, fine. Both, however, could delay a rebuilding process that Irsay has already admitted won't happen overnight.

Phillips withdrew his name for the Buccaneers head-coaching search last week, stating that he preferred to stay in Houston as the defensive coordinator. It was the right decision, but Indy ain't Tampa Bay. This is a team that, prior to 2011, had won at least 10 games in 11 of the last 12 seasons, appeared in the Super Bowl in '09 and won the Super Bowl in '06. There's a recent history of success there that most other organizations can't match.

Rob Chudzinski

If we're Grigson and Irsay, we call up Chud and offer him a pile of money to run the offense and grow with Luck. Or, worst case, Chud comes in and works with Manning, if they keep him. The work that Chudzinski did in Carolina this year with Cam Newton can't be understated, and nothing's more important for the future of the Colts than preparing Luck to succeed going forward. Chud's shown that he can get a rookie quarterback up and running pretty quickly, and without requiring too much in the way of offensive weapons (grab some tight ends, sign a marquee, young wideout, draft an offensive lineman and you're good).  The obvious exception to this, of course: Chud's unproven (see Phillips above). 

Steve Spagnuolo

Shortly after Caldwell was dismissed Tuesday, FOX Sports' Jay Glazer reported that Spagnuolo interviewed for the Colts' defensive coordinator position earlier this week and Caldwell was one of the people Spagnuolo interviewed with. (We're immediately reminded of the Bobs asking "What would you say you do here?")

If the Colts thought enough of Spags for the DC gig, maybe they also think he deserves consideration for Caldwell's old job. Spagnuolo sandwiched one- and two-win seasons in St. Louis around a 7-9 effort, so his resume alone doesn't make him a particularly attractive candidate. But again, this isn't a typical head-coaching position and Spagnuolo appears to have the right demeanor for the situation. Which is to say that he's not a showman (see Ryan, Rex or Rob) or a screamer (Todd Haley, for example). We also shouldn't underestimate his ties to the Eagles -- just like Childress, Mornhinweg and Grigson.

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Since: Mar 17, 2010
Posted on: January 17, 2012 7:08 pm

The next Colts head coach: the early candidates

Did Marty decide to go with the Bucs? If not the Colts should consider him.

Since: Apr 1, 2008
Posted on: January 17, 2012 6:54 pm

The next Colts head coach: the early candidates

I think they would go with Jim Tressel.  Would be a great hire if they keep Tressel.

Since: Dec 13, 2011
Posted on: January 17, 2012 6:53 pm

The next Colts head coach: the early candidates

SportsFanatic, I think Cowher or Gruden would be the dream scenarios for the Colts, but it hasn't seemed likely over the past few years that either of them are eager to get out of broadcast. I know how much Gruden praises Andrew Luck so I could see him wanting to start a career with Luck as his QB.

If Grigson hires Marty Mornhinweg, I will want to jump off a bridge. I don't see him being a successful, long-term replacement. I'd like to see Perry Fewell on this list too, but they'll have to wait until the Giants are eliminated (or win the Super Bowl!). Jim Tressel would be the high risk, high reward guy. He doesn't have the NFL experience and I know many are opposed to getting college coaches, but I've heard that Irsay really likes Tressel and I'd have to imagine he'll be in the mix as well.

Since: Jun 10, 2011
Posted on: January 17, 2012 6:31 pm

The next Colts head coach: the early candidates

You want bland, blend into the crowd, no-rocka-da-boat ?  Put Eric Mangini on your list.

Since: Dec 28, 2006
Posted on: January 17, 2012 6:30 pm

The next Colts head coach: the early candidates

I hope the Colts can do better than this list.  Might as well have kept Caldwell.  They ought to look at Jim Tressel.  The guy's a winner everywhere he goes.  He did not deserve to be fired at Ohio State.  The media and the NCAA exacted their pound of flesh.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: January 17, 2012 6:16 pm

The next Colts head coach: the early candidates

If I'm the colts, I wouldn't even hire a head coach.  Just make manning the QB and head coach and have him earn his $28 million that he made last year sitting out with an injury.  He can run that offense and call his own plays.  Hire a defensive coordinator (Spags?)that can be an assistant coach and be ok deferring to peyton when needed. 

Since: Mar 3, 2011
Posted on: January 17, 2012 6:01 pm

The next Colts head coach: the early candidates

There are two names that was not mentioned that I think should be consider for the next head coach of the Colts.  One is Bill Cower and the other is Jon Gruden.  They both have head coaching experience and both have won Super Bowls.  Gruden and Cower said they would coach again if the right job open up.  What better way to do it than to coach a future hall of famer in Peyton Manning and teach Andrew Luck to succeed Manning in the process.  If it works out, it will be a smooth transition and the Colts will continue to win for years to come.

Since: Dec 30, 2006
Posted on: January 17, 2012 5:44 pm

The next Colts head coach: the early candidates

The media needs more then a Rooney rule. Williams will never accept a coaching job in the NFL. He is back at Grambling where he wants to be, he left a very high paying gig with the Bucs to go back. he has also turned down numerous tv opportunities. This guy is smart and knows what he wants. His ego is not going to get in the way of him and his family being happy. On second thought the NFL needs more people like him.

Since: Aug 23, 2006
Posted on: January 17, 2012 5:41 pm

The next Colts head coach: the early candidates

If I'm a Colts fan I wouldn't be happy with any of these supposed choices. Wade Phillips? Steve Spagnuolo? Childress or Mornhinweg? Really? Retreads all of them. And as for Chudzinski, you gotta wonder how much was the success of Cam Newton this year due to Chud's schemes, or was it due to the fact that Newton is a huge talent? A bit of both probably.

Since: Sep 28, 2009
Posted on: January 17, 2012 5:39 pm

The next Colts head coach: the early candidates

rooney rule ha just pick the best man for the job whatever his color

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