After a few weeks without a head coach, the Colts have narrowed their search for Pagano’s replacement down to two. Coaches such as Dave Toub, Frank Reich, Matt Patricia, and even Baylor’s Matt Rhule were possible options. Alas, none of these are in the race for Colts’ head coach, per an NFL source. The next Colts’ head coach will most likely be Josh McDaniels, Patriots’ offensive coordinator, or Mike Vrabel Texans’ defensive coordinator. Both of these coaches bring vastly different styles to the table, and can both be effective.
The offensive coordinator for one of the NFL’s best ever units brings some much needed firepower to the team. McDaniels’ only head coaching stint came over two years in Denver, where he finished with an underwhelming 11-17 record, and was fired midway through his second season. After returning to New England, McDaniels fielded an excellent offense, winning two Super Bowls. McDaniels tried to copy Bill Belichick’s model of letting go veteran stars with Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, and that failed miserably. Some Broncos’ players did not like McDaniels.
Belichick’s staff have not done too well in head coaching, such as McDaniels himself, Bill O’Brien, Eric Mangini, and Charlie Weiss. Combined, their NFL head coaching record is 116-146. McDaniels has definitely grown as a coach and a person over the last decade, and will transform the Colts’ offense if hired. Andrew Luck and McDaniels seems like a match made in heaven; with a few offensive additions, this Colts’ offense could be atop the NFL. In 2014, with a very similar roster, the Colts’ had the sixth best scoring offense en route to an AFC Championship berth. The Colts know what they will get with McDaniels, making him the safer option of the two despite his rocky past.
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Vrabel, on the other hand, is a wild card in every sense. The Texans hired Vrabel at the start of the season to be their defensive coordinator, and did a decent job given all of the injuries his team sustained. Vrabel has only been coaching in the NFL for since 2014, making his resume thinner than many would like. During his 14 season NFL career, the hard nosed linebacker played with the Steelers, Patriots, and Chiefs. Vrabel recorded 704 total tackles, 57 sacks, 11 interceptions, 19 forced fumbles, and 10 touchdowns on 10 catches. Vrabel brings a no BS, tough, gritty attitude to the Colts, something they have been lacking for quite a while now. If the Colts hire Vrabel, they will need very strong coordinators to compensate for his lack of experience.
Prediction: Colts Hire Josh McDaniels
At this point, McDaniels seems like the most likely option for Ballard to sign. Either way, the Colts are upgrading at the head coach spot from Chuck Pagano. If they do indeed sign Vrabel, it will be very interesting to see how he handles the team.
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, and the AFC South Division Editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_ and @FPC_Colts.