We are headed into Week 4 of the 2023 NFL season, nearly a quarter of the way through the year, and it appears that owner Jim Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard made the right decision in hiring Shane Steichen. When Steichen was hired, he mentioned his “four pillars” on which he was going to build his team around. Those pillars were: Character, Preparation, Consistency, and Relentless.
Early returns on those words have exceeded expectations with fans and within the organization. This team won four games last year and looked dead to rights. To already have two wins (both on the road) is something most fans could not have imagined. Let’s look at how Steichen and his staff have made good on the promises he delivered at his opening press conference.
Shane Steichen’s four pillars for the Colts
“Character is very important to me. We want to treat people with respect, and we want to feed the positive and weed out the negative.” ~Shane Steichen
The Colts franchise itself has not really had an issue with this compared to most franchises. Cornerback Isaiah Rodgers Sr. was let go from the franchise after violating the leagues gambling policy, after it was discovered that Rodgers was gambling on NFL games. The move was swift, and he was released. It was an early sign that he would not be into second chances for policy offenders. On the positive side, many of the Colts draft picks this season were considered leaders on and off the field. It’s something that both Ballard and Steichen share a belief in and allows them to focus on football and trusting the players to be respectful and professional off the field.
“I truly believe this. The separation in this league is in the preparation. How we prepare as a football team and an organization Monday through Saturday will ultimately dictate the outcome of the football game.” ~Shane Steichen
An aspect we saw in the preseason was the constant improvement from game to game. Steichen has that all-ball mentality and seems to be a football junkie. He lives, breathes, and sleeps football. He has surrounded himself with a staff that has that same belief as he does. He wants to be great, and he wants others around him to not only walk his path but to be even better as any leader should.
This team on the field is light years ahead of what this team looked like under Frank Reich. They are prepared for every situation and every scenario they might encounter. The last two weeks, Steichen has shown his in-game coaching to be on an elite level by forcing other coaches to burn timeouts when they aren’t set and ready on critical fourth-down plays. He has had to create very different game plans for both Richardson and Minshew as well. The players seem more confident than ever before and believe all the hard work they put into his system will deliver results. There is not an area of this football team that is worse off than it was last year and that is a direct result of the preparation of this football team.
“We have to be consistent, and it starts with us as coaches. Being consistent with our message to the players and telling them exactly how we want it to look and how we want it to be done.” ~Shane Steichen
The quote also brings the biggest and most positive change so far in this early season with the players on this roster. Simply saying he will stay consistent on the accountability within the locker room and on the field. We didn’t see this with much with Frank Reich. It was all figuring it out as they went and keeping status quo with little to no changes. Most of the changes you saw during the Reich era were (reportedly) done by Jim Irsay last season when things began to crumble.
Steichen has made it known that if you are not playing at a high level and matching the expectations that his staff has put forth, there will not be a spot on this team for you. Deon Jackson was given the start in Week 1 and had the worst outing of his career along with two turnovers. He was subsequently benched and then released on Saturday before the Baltimore game. A similar approach happened with Darrell Baker Jr., who was a healthy scratch against Baltimore, and we saw rookie JuJu Brents deliver a solid debut performance.
An early message to this team of accountability and staying consistent to his message has been abundant and I’m sure the players and staff have taken notice.
“We have to be relentless in our pursuit to be the best. The best players, the best coaches I’ve been around are obsessed with their craft and that’s what we want to build here and that’s what we want to get done.” ~Shane Steichen
With elite level preparation, comes elite level relentlessness. He has infected this team with his belief in oneself and with that comes the motivation to be the best. That was on full display this week in Baltimore. The team never let up and the coaching staff believed they would win the game even with the ups and downs of the game.
All professionals have the desire to be the best, but they have to have the right leadership in place to achieve their goals. Steichen is proving he can be that leader. You can see in the postgame locker room speeches that the players have bought into his system. With the Colts having the youngest roster in the league, keeping up the intensity and relentlessness of this football team will continue to set them up for success in the future and allow them to continue in their growth personally and professionally.