INDIANAPOLIS – It’s official.
Less than 48 hours after helping take the Philadelphia Eagles to the brink of a world championship, Shane Steichen is being entrusted to help resuscitate the Indianapolis Colts.
The team announced Tuesday it hired the Eagles’ offensive coordinator as its 11th head coach since its relocation in 1984. The team held an introductory news conference in the afternoon.
“I’m extremely honored and grateful to be the next head coach of the Indianapolis Colts,” Steichen said during his introduction.
He went on to thank his family and a long list of players, teams and coaches who helped shape his career. Among those mentioned: Philip Rivers (Steichen coached him with the Chargers), Norv Turner (Steichen called him his biggest mentor) and Nick Sirianni (coach of the Eagles).
Clearly emotional at times, Steichen appeared happy to be in Indianapolis. But it’s been a whirlwind few days for Steichen. He succeeds Frank Reich, who was fired Nov. 7.
Sunday evening, Steichen oversaw an Eagles’ offense that set a Super Bowl record for the most points in a loss (35). That was small consolation considering Philadelphia’s defense was unable to protect a 24-14 halftime time and the Eagles fell 38-35 to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII.
Monday evening, the Colts dispatched owner Jim Irsay’s private jet to Phoenix and brought Steichen to Indy to finalize his contract.
That was done, and Tuesday the Colts have their man. It completed an extensive six-week interview process that involved 13 candidates.
Steichen, 37, is the second-youngest head coach in Colts’ history; Don Shula was 33 when he succeeded Weeb Ewbank in 1963. He’s also the NFL’s third-youngest coach, trailing the Los Angeles Rams’ Sean McVay and the Minnesota Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell.
It’s the second consecutive time Philadelphia has provided the Colts with their head coach. In 2018, owner Jim Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard opted for Reich, the offensive coordinator of the Super Bowl champion Eagles, after Josh McDaniels reneged on a pre-Super Bowl agreement.
Focus sharpened on Steichen Sunday when multiple outlets reported the Colts had informed the remaining candidates – except Steichen – they had been eliminated from consideration.
Steichen declined to comment on his looming deal with the Colts following the game, but it obviously was inevitable.
Despite the Eagles’ crushing loss, his offensive stock continued to skyrocket.
Against the Chiefs, the Eagles set the championship-game record for most points in a loss and piled up 417 yards behind quarterback Jalen Hurts. They set another Super Bowl record by converting 11-of-18 times on third down, and added a pair of fourth-down conversions.
During the playoffs, Philly averaged 34.7 points – it topped 30 in all three games – and 367.3 yards. It converted 26-47 third-down situations (55.3%) and went 5-for-5 on fourth down. Steichen’s offense had 28 legitimate drives, and generated 13 touchdowns and four field goals.
The overriding allure of Steichen is the hand he’s had in the development of Hurts. The 2020 second-round draft pick finished second in the MVP voting to the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and already has established himself as one of the NFL’s most dangerous QBs. His three rushing touchdowns against Kansas City were a Super Bowl record for a quarterback and tied Terrell Davis’ record.
It will be critical for Steichen to have similar influence with the Colts.
After finishing 4-12-1 – the franchise has won just four of its last 19 games – Indy holds the No. 4 pick in the April draft. It is committed to acquiring its quarterback of the future, either with that No. 4 pick or by trading up, perhaps with the Chicago Bears, who hold the No. 1 overall selection.
The draft offers several intriguing options: Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Kentucky’s Will Levis and Florida’s Anthony Richardson.
It’s imperative the Colts stabilize their quarterback situation.
Contributing to Reich’s demise was starting five full-time quarterbacks during his five-year stint as head coach and turning to eight overall. The Colts started three quarterbacks last season – Matt Ryan, Sam Ehlinger, Nick Foles – for just the third time since 1998.