New offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter found his way back to Colts at the perfect time

Dec 2, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter during the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 2, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter during the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

After starting his NFL coaching career with the Indianapolis Colts, Jim Bob Cooter is returning to the team as the offensive coordinator.

It has been reported that familiar face Jim Bob Cooter is set to return to the Indianapolis Colts as offensive coordinator. Let’s take a moment to learn about Cooter and how he’s progressed as an NFL coach since he was let go by the then-freshly anointed general manager, Ryan Grigson, ahead of the 2012 season.

First and foremost, Cooter already has familiarity with both the Colts organization, as well as with new head coach Shane Steichen. Cooter’s coaching career began in Indianapolis when he became an offensive staff assistant as a mere 25-year-old. He would slowly but surely climb the ranks within the coaching staff at Indy before the aforementioned outing via Ryan Grigson. Cooter’s familiarity with Steichen dates back to just a season prior, in 2021, when he took a brief break from coaching to be a consultant for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Jim Bob Cooter’s coaching history

Cooter’s first three seasons in the NFL with Indianapolis saw three different, yet equally important, assistant roles: staff assistant, offensive assistant, and assistant to the offensive coordinator. After essentially being scapegoated by Grigson, Cooter would find a place to call home for the 2012 season in Kansas City as an offensive quality coach. His time with the Chiefs would only last a season, as the Chiefs followed suit with his previous tenured team, the 2011 Colts, when they went 2-14 on the year and new ownership and staff resulted with that.

Call it a blessing in disguise, because Cooter would join the Denver Broncos coaching staff shortly thereafter as an offensive assistant coach en route to a Super Bowl 48 appearance in 2013. Cooter reunited with Peyton Manning in Denver and their success in Cooter’s lone season in Denver would pay dividends for him moving forward.

It wasn’t until 2014 that Jim Bob Cooter would finally find his footing as an NFL coach. Cooter became the Detroit Lions QBs coach for the next two seasons, working directly with Matthew Stafford. In his second year as the QBs coach, Cooter was elevated as the team’s interim offensive coordinator when Joe Lombardi was fired amidst the 2015 season.

The interim elevation was a fruitful decision for then-HC Jim Caldwell, as the team started the year off 1-7 and would finish 6-2 under Cooter’s tutelage. This ultimately resulted in a promotion for Cooter as his interim tag was removed and he was given the keys to the offense, full-time.

Cooter’s time as offensive coordinator would net franchise-promising results, at least early on. More specifically, in his first season as OC, he coordinated an offense that quite literally carried the NFL’s worst defense (31st in DVOA) to their third playoff appearance of the 21st century.

Amidst his time in Detroit, Cooter helped QB Matthew Stafford rank among the top 10 in the NFL in completion percentage (64.9%), passing yards (21,069), touchdowns (128), and passing plays of 25+ yards (151).

After a 6-10 campaign in 2018, and back-to-back seasons in which the Lions missed the playoffs, Detroit’s HC at the time, Matt Patricia, and the front office opted to change things up as they let Cooter go.

Taking a step back from a coordinator role, Cooter would become the New York Jets RBs coach for the next two seasons.

Cooter was a part of Adam Gase’s first coaching staff in New York, someone he’d coached under/with during his 2013 stint in Denver. In 2019, the Jets had the second-fewest rushing yards in the league (1,257 yards) and in 2020, they were marginally better with the 22nd-ranked rushing attack.

After an uninspiring output during his time in New York, Cooter would be relieved of his duties after the 2020 season before ultimately becoming a consultant for the Eagles staff in 2021. Fast forward to this past year, Cooter would become a vital part of the Jaguars’ offensive success.

Jim Bob Cooter’s work with quarterbacks is great for Colts

Cooter became the Jaguar’s Pass Game Coordinator and was indubitably instrumental in the emergence of second-year QB Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence and company produced the league’s ninth-best offense according to Team DVOA (+7.7%) as the Jaguars won the division for the second time in six years.

Not only did the Jags win the AFC South for the second time in six years, but they did so immediately following back-to-back first-overall pick-worthy seasons. Jacksonville’s pass game produced the 12th-most total passing yards, as well as proved its efficiency by netting a league-wide, ninth-best completion percentage.

Trevor Lawrence’s aforementioned emergence was massive. Lawrence more than doubled his TD total from his rookie season (12 to 25), but also cut his INT rate from a league-leading 17 in 2021 to only eight in 2022, all while upping his completion percentage by ~7%. Lawrence and the Jags capped off this impressive turnaround with a division title plus a legendary comeback in this year’s Wild Card against the Chargers.

Needless to say, Jim Bob Cooter seems like the man for the job as far as elevating a quarterback in a passing league goes. With the Colts likely selecting a quarterback at the top of the 2023 NFL Draft, Steichen and Cooter will be the perfect coaches to help develop the young QB.