With the Indianapolis Colts set to hire a new coach, Greg Olsen explains why an offensive-minded head coach might be the better option.
The Indianapolis Colts are narrowing their search for a new head coach and it’s still largely unclear which direction the Colts will go. While Indy’s fans are doing everything possible to make sure it’s not Jeff Saturday, the franchise is currently working through second interviews with several candidates. Aside from Saturday, the second interview requests that have been reported were Ejiro Evero, Raheem Morris, Wink Martindale, and Dan Quinn. DeMeco Ryans is also still on Indy’s radar, though he didn’t have a first interview yet. Additionally, Quinn has already pulled himself out of the race and committed to the Dallas Cowboys for the 2023 season.
With the exception of Saturday, all of these candidates are defensive coaches. Morris has experience on both sides of the ball but his most recent role was as defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams. It’s likely that the offensive coordinators that the Colts plan to have second interviews with are preparing for Championship Sunday, so the team hasn’t been able to schedule them yet. Regardless, there’s a good chance that Indy’s next coach could be a defensive-minded coach. Former NFL tight end and current commentator, Greg Olsen, explained why that may not be the best idea.
In a Thursday appearance on ‘The Pat McAfee Show’, Olsen discussed the value of an elite play-caller and an elite quarterback in today’s NFL. He expressed that in order to even have a chance at the playoffs, a team has to have at least one or the other, maybe both. Olsen then explained that when a team has a defensive-minded head coach, that coach must hire the right offensive coordinator to have the offense buzzing. The problem, however, is that eventually, other teams are going to want that offensive coordinator to be a head coach.
At that point, the defensive-minded head coach either needs to have another great offensive play-caller on deck, or the offense will have a regression that negatively impacts the team’s status as a contender. With an offensive-minded head coach, other teams can never directly steal the sauce because it’s the head coach who has the recipe. For that reason, offensive-minded head coaches usually have the advantage of being hired.
Should Colts hire an offensive-minded head coach?
This isn’t to say that defensive-minded head coaches can’t have sustained success; Olsen even admitted that it’s very unfortunate for defensive-minded head coaches and listed Sean McDermott and the Buffalo Bills as a positive example. However, as Olsen highlighted, the defensive-minded head coach has to have a succession plan for the offensive coordinator. McDermott went from Brian Daboll to Ken Dorsey and now the Bills have Joe Brady waiting in the wings.
Again, this isn’t to say that teams shouldn’t hire defensive-minded head coaches, after all, Bill Belichick, arguably the greatest coach of all time, is a defensive-minded head coach. However, the NFL world just witnessed that even a Belichick-coached team can struggle without an adequate offensive coordinator and play-caller.
Is this something the Colts will take into account? It’s hard to tell for sure but it doesn’t seem like it. There are a lot of defensive-minded head coaches in the second round of interviews for the Colts. From the outside looking in, it seems like Indy is more interested in an elite leader that can put together a competent staff than someone who has an elite scheme. Even Jeff Saturday, the one offensive coach reported so far, is really being lauded for his leadership. His appeal to the franchise was never about play-calling or developing a quality offensive scheme.
Whoever the Colts do decide to hire, they either have to have the mind to develop a rookie quarterback and turn around a struggling offense or they must have the connections to hire someone to be an offensive coordinator that does have that kind of mind.