According to Fox Sports NFL Insider Mike Garafolo, the Indianapolis Colts could continue to shake-up their coaching staff by dismissing their offensive line coaches Joe Gilbert and Hal Hunter and potentially replacing them with candidates such as the San Francisco 49ers Chris Foerster and New York Giants Pat Flaherty:
In the wake of head coach Chuck Pagano‘s 4-year extension, the team already fired 6 coaches earlier this week including defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, safeties coach Roy Anderson, secondary coach Mike Gillhamer, strength and conditioning coach Roger Marandino, tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts, and running backs coach Charlie Williams.
Gilbert has served as the Colts offensive line coach for the past 3 seasons, having joined the team as an assistant offensive line coach in 2012 and has over 29 years of coaching experience–25 of which were at the collegiate level.
Hunter’s 1st season as Colts offensive line coach was this past season (along with Gilbert), but he spent the previous 2 seasons with the team as the assistant offensive line coach. Before joining the Colts, he spent 7 seasons with the San Diego Chargers largely as an offensive line coach, but also as an offensive coordinator. He holds over 30 years of coaching experience.
The Colts offensive line clearly struggled last season, as the Colts surrendered the 2nd most QB hits with 118 total QB hits, which was only 3 less than the league-leading Cleveland Browns at 121 total QB Hits.
While some of that can be attributed to injuries, as most notably starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo missed 3 games this season, the offensive line collectively has to improve going forward. The team can’t risk any more unnecessary hits or risk further injury to their franchise player Andrew Luck.
Things didn’t fare much better on the ground, as the Colts finished 29th in rushing, averaging 89.9 rush yards per game. Not to mention, the team only had 6 rushing touchdowns on the season which was 28th best in the NFL.
It’s worth noting that despite running hard, starting running back Frank Gore failed to eclipse 1,000 yards for the first time in his career since 2010 and had his lowest yards per carry average at 3.7 ypg of his entire 11-year career.
As such, the Colts kept two of their least impressive franchise streaks going: One, by once again failing to have a 1,000 yard rusher since Joseph Addai did it way back in 2007. Two, by also failing to have a 100 yard rusher in a game which Vick Ballard was the last to accomplish in Week 15 of the 2012 season.
As for the rumored replacements, Foerster spent last season with the San Francisco 49ers as their offensive line coach, but could be on the move as 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula was recently fired–meaning a new coaching staff could be coming in. Prior to this season, the 54 year old coach spent 5 years as the Washington Redskins offensive line coach. He has over 33 seasons of coaching experience.
In regards to Flaherty, he has spent the past 12 seasons as the New York Giants offensive line coach, during recently departed head coach Tom Coughlin‘s entire Giants tenure. He has over 35 years of coaching experience. Like Foerster, he could be replaced by the Giants new head coach’s coaching staff or look to seek a new coaching opportunity all together.
While it’s unclear just how much of an impact a new offensive line coach could make, it certainly may not hurt for potential improvement. Both Foerster and Flaherty appear to be qualified candidates and have had proven success in the past.