According to CBS Sports Jason La Canfora, the Indianapolis Colts are ‘intrigued’ by Kansas City Chiefs Director of Football Operations Chris Ballard for their open general manager position–whose preference is to hire his current team’s special teams coach Dave Toub.
It seems to confirm an earlier report from Kansas City’s KMBC Steve Albritton, who said that Ballard is the ‘clear favorite’ for the Colts general manager position, but prefers to make a head coaching change–although he never specifically mentioned Toub.
Currently, this is the fourth report we’ve had of Ballard being either the ‘clear favorite’ or ‘intriguing’ for the Colts, as along with Albritton, The MMQB’s Albert Breer and the NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo have also issued similar reports–indicating that the Chiefs ‘right-hand man’ is seemingly in the driver’s seat right now for Indianapolis.
Regarding Toub, the 54 year old special teams coach has spent the last 4 years with Kansas City, and even though he coaches special teams, he’s highly regarded by Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and throughout league circles.
In fact, Toub already interviewed for two head coaching jobs earlier this offseason with both the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers–showing that he’s a serious candidate regardless.
Given’s Ballard’s familiarity with Toub (and the lack of other candidates), it makes sense that he would be his first choice to become the Colts next head coach–giving him the opportunity to pick his own head coach instead of being tied to incumbent Colts head coach Chuck Pagano for at least a season.
Toub’s 2016 Chiefs special teams units featured All-Pro and Pro Bowl rookie punt returner Tyreek Hill, who led all NFL punt returners with a 15.2 yards per punt return average, as well as a tied-league high of 2 punt return touchdowns.
Hill’s 27.4 yards per kick return average was the 6th highest in the league among kick returns who had returned more than 10 kickoffs, and he also added a kick return for a touchdown. As a result, the Chiefs finished with the 4th highest kick return average at 24.1 average yards per kickoff this past season.
From 2013-15, per Chiefs.com, Toub’s special teams units “had six special teams kick returns for touchdowns (three punt, three kickoff), which is the most in the NFL over that span”.
Prior to joining the Chiefs in 2013, Toub served as the special teams coordinator for the Chicago Bears from (2004-12), where the ‘Monsters of the Midway’ consistently ranked in the top third of the league for 8 straight seasons (per Chiefs.com).
Specifically, Toub’s special teams units featured Pro Bowlers such as elite returnman Devin Hester (2006-07, 2010), wide receiver Johnny Knox (2009), linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (2006-07), kicker Robbie Gould (2006), and defensive back Corey Graham (2011).
Most notably in 2006, Toub was named Special Teams Coach of the Year.
It’s worth noting that Ballard served as the Chicago Bears Southwest Area Scout (2001-2011) and later their Director of Pro Scouting (2012), so he has prior experience working with Toub even at their previous NFL coaching stops respectively.
Toub also served as a special teams/quality control coach for the Philadelphia Eagles (2001-03), helping current Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh earn 2001 Special Teams Coach of the Year honors.
There’s no question that Toub has considerable special teams expertise, but this hasn’t been the issue for Indianapolis in recent seasons.
Namely, Pro Bowl caliber punter Pat McAfee and kicker Adam Vinatieri continue to carry the Colts special teams units–while returnmen Quan Bray and Jordan Todman both ‘flashed’ in 2016. [Even though, the Colts units could admittedly do a better job of corralling McAfee’s punts before the football crosses the goal line].
Rather, the issue for the Colts is clearly defense with the question being whether Toub could theoretically help improve a unit that has consistently ranked in the bottom half of the league.
It appears as though Ballard could provide Toub with the talent necessary–given his track record, but could Toub actually coach the Colts into having at least an average to above average league defense?
That may be the clear question for the Colts if the franchise actually decides to make a head coaching change.