Colts unveil Shane Steichen as head coach to solve QB woes

INDIANAPOLIS -- Shane Steichen beat out 13 other candidates to become the Indianapolis Colts' head coach not merely because of what he has accomplished but because of what he can potentially do to stabilize Indianapolis at the game's most important position.

The former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator -- who was named the Colts' new coach Tuesday -- presented Indianapolis with a detailed plan for addressing the quarterback position, with the Colts poised to select one of the top college prospects in the upcoming NFL draft -- perhaps even Alabama's Bryce Young.

"Shane just knocked it out of the park and really showed the qualities that put him above during the whole process as our man," owner Jim Irsay said.

The Colts had one of the NFL's poorest offenses in 2022, ranking 30th in scoring (17 points per game), 27th in QBR (36.8) and 30th in yards per play (4.8). The hope is that Steichen can replicate some of his past success, such as the passing attack he developed with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2020 and the multifaceted approach he displayed with the Eagles the past two seasons.

"My philosophy is we're going to throw to score points in this league and run to win," Steichen said, suggesting that an aggressive offensive posture might be on the way. "Now, that could look different each week. Sometimes, going into the games, we're like, 'Hey, we're going to throw it a bunch,' and then we end up running it 45 times. The flow [of the game] is going to dictate that. I know we've got some pieces in place to get that done, and we should be ready to roll."

The Colts have gone to some lengths to downplay their intentions heading into the draft. But it remains a very poorly kept secret that they are looking to resolve their yearslong quarterback issues after having different Week 1 starters each of the past five seasons.

Steichen is here largely to help them navigate that.

As one team source told ESPN, Steichen has some "mad scientist" to him and offered a specific blueprint for how to develop a young quarterback. That, in particular, scored points with the Colts' brass. The versatility of Steichen's scheme, the source said, will allow the Colts to take an open-minded approach to drafting a quarterback if they choose to do so, rather than limiting their options to quarterbacks who specifically fit their scheme.

Steichen outlined what he'll personally be seeking in a quarterback.

"I think accuracy, decision-making and the ability to create are the three things that I look at in a quarterback," he said. "I think those three things are very important. But the above the neck, the players that I've been around -- Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert and Philip Rivers -- they all have one thing in common: They're obsessed with their craft. And if you can find that in a quarterback, you're probably going to have some success."

The Colts might just have found a quarterback who checks those boxes in Young.

"Do you trade up? There's so many things you can do," Irsay said. "The [Eagles] took Jalen in the second round. ... Although, the Alabama guy doesn't look bad, I tell ya."

The Colts currently have the fourth overall pick but have been widely speculated as a team that might trade up in the draft. Young could well be the top pick in April.

Hurts, who amassed 374 total yards of offense in a brilliant performance in the Super Bowl on Sunday, pointed to Steichen as a huge factor in his success.

"I give a lot of credit to Coach Steichen for what he's been for me these last two years, the things he's taught me," Hurts said. "For what he's been for me and this team as a motivator, as a leader, as a coach, as [a coordinator], I think he's been the world to us. When you win, you want to give other people opportunities to chase their dreams, and that's something he's been able to do, and I know he's going to do a great job in Indianapolis."

When it comes to filling out the rest of his coaching staff, Steichen withheld any specific answers on his plans. But the Colts have been barring their defensive coaches from interviewing for positions elsewhere because multiple head-coaching candidates interviewed by the team had interest in keeping them.

Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley overlapped with Steichen with the Chargers, as did several other members of the defensive staff. Most of those defensive staffers were in the room for Steichen's introductory news conference at Colts headquarters.

The finalists who made the biggest impressions on the Colts outside of Steichen, according to a team source, included Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, new Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan and Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn.

Jeff Saturday, who was a surprise hire as interim head coach for the final eight games of last season, was among the candidates who received a follow-up interview. But there was minimal momentum to offer him the permanent role by the end of the process.

Saturday, a former All-Pro Colts lineman, went 1-7 as coach.

"I want to thank Jeff Saturday for his committed and professional effort for what he did, coming in in a very difficult situation and doing an admirable job," Irsay said. "I really appreciate Jeff and thank him. He means a lot to this organization."

Saturday, in a video posted to Twitter, said of his tenure: "It was an absolute blessing. I look fondly upon it. Wish we would have done better, but ultimately that is where it is. I want to wish Coach Steichen the best of luck. I'm still a huge Colts fan and pulling for you guys. Looking forward to hoisting some Lombardi Trophies and excited for your opportunity."

Saturday was initially speculated to be a front-runner for the job because of Irsay's well-known affection for him. But the poor results last season and the positions of Ballard and others in the organization likely undermined his chances. A handful of Colts fans started an online petition to persuade the team to hire someone else, an event Saturday made light of Tuesday.

"To everybody out there, including the however many thousand who signed the petition," he said, "which may have included my wife and son -- not exactly sure ... in all honesty, I'm so grateful to Colts Nation and who you are."