According to NFL reporter Albert Breer, the Indianapolis Colts have narrowed their head coaching search down to two candidates, New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels and Houston Texans Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel. Breer adds that while McDaniels and Vrabel are currently the only two candidates, it is still possible that other candidates could be considered. Whether the head coach next season ends up being McDaniels, Vrabel, or someone else, I’m sure that not only the fans, but also General Manager Chris Ballard, and Owner Jim Irsay, will expect better than the 4-12 record from last season.
Candidate 1: Josh McDaniels
McDaniels’ career in the NFL began in 2001, where he worked as a personal assistant for the New England Patriots. In 2002 and 2003, McDaniels worked as a defensive assistant for the Patriots, and in 2003, he primarily worked with the defensive backs. In 2004, McDaniels became the Quarterbacks Coach for the Patriots, and in 2006, he also took on the role as the Offensive Coordinator for the Patriots, which he held until 2008. In 2009, McDaniels was hired as the Head Coach of the Denver Broncos, and in 28 games as head coach of the team, he had a record of 11-17, which led to him being fired. After this, he became the Offensive Coordinator of the St. Louis Rams for one season, before returning to the New England Patriots as the Offensive Coordinator in 2012. Working with the Patriots, he is a five time Super Bowl Champion, and a six time AFC Champion. McDaniels has been a popular head coaching candidate for many teams the past few off-seasons, because he is the coordinator of one of the most successful offensives in NFL history, and also because he does have experience as a head coach. While his tenure as a head coach was not great, he was working with Jay Cutler and Kyle Orton at the quarterback position, which is definitely a far cry from working with Tom Brady, like he did in New England. Andrew Luck, while being no Brady, has shown flashes of excellence in the past, and the Colts would likely hope that if they hire McDaniels, he can make a fully healthy Luck an elite NFL quarterback.
Candidate 2: Mike Vrabel
Vrabel’s career in the NFL began in 1997, when he was drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. In his 14 year playing career, Vrabel was a one time Pro Bowler, and a three time Super Bowl Champion with the New England Patriots, playing primarily as an outside linebacker. When Vrabel retired following the 2010 season, he became the Linebackers Coach at Ohio State. In 2012 and 2013, Vrabel became the Defensive Line Coach at Ohio State. In 2014, Vrabel became the Linebackers Coach for the Houston Texans, and in 2017 he became the Defensive Coordinator for the Texans. Although Vrabel is a less experienced coach than most other candidates on the market, and definitely a less experienced coach than McDaniels, he was an accomplished NFL player, and played for the New England Patriots during their peak. As a former player, Vrabel can likely relate to many of the struggles that an NFL player faces on a regular basis, which non-NFL players like McDaniels probably cannot. Vrabel’s quick rise in coaching also shows that everyone he worked with previously felt that he was doing a good job. Having a defensive minded head coach like Vrabel can hopefully help the Colts improve their defense, which has been one of the worst in the league in recent years.