Colts coaching search: Here's who they have interviewed

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard have a pair of franchise-altering decisions to make this offseason as they search for a head coach to hire and a quarterback to draft.

The Indianapolis Colts are interviewing candidates for their open coaching position. Interim coach Jeff Saturday is one of the possibilities. The Colts went 1-7 after he replaced fired coach Frank Reich on Nov. 7.

Here's who has been linked and/or interviewed by general manager Chris Ballard, who did not give a target date for naming a coach. The Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos also had openings after the regular season.

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Jan. 22: Colts interview Mike Kafka

Mike Kafka, 35, spent his first five seasons working his way up on Kansas City’s staff under Andy Reid, a head coach whose opinion carries an enormous amount of weight with Ballard. Kafka became the Giants' offensive coordinator this season.

Kafka’s season in New York is a different kind of experience, evidence that the young coordinator knows how to unlock the abilities of a quarterback who isn't Patrick Mahomes.

“Football can be chaotic at times,” Kafka told reporters in New York last week. “Being in that demeanor allows me to problem solve, think clearly and get the guys the right information. … That’s really all the players want is an answer.”

Jan. 20: Colts interview Dan Quinn

Dan Quinn is best known for the five-plus seasons he spent as Matt Ryan’s head coach in Atlanta, where he posted a 43-42 record and took the Falcons to the Super Bowl. The 52-year-old has drawn rave reviews over the past two seasons for his work with the Dallas defense.

“I’m having a blast here,” Quinn told reporters in Dallas in early January. “If down the line there’s an opportunity that lights me up, we’ll discuss it then.”

All it took was one season as the defensive coordinator for Mike McCarthy’s Cowboys, putting together an inventive scheme that has transformed linebacker Micah Parsons into one of the game’s most dominant defenders and pulled off the rare feat of leading the NFL in turnovers in back-to-back seasons, remarkable given the unpredictability of forcing turnovers.

Jan. 20 Colts interview Brian Callahan

Brian Callahan, 38, is enjoying quite a run at the helm of a Bengals offense that reached the Super Bowl last season and is pushing for a return trip. In the past two seasons, Joe Burrow has thrown 69 touchdown passes to 26 interceptions, and his rating has topped 100 both years.

Callahan is in his fourth season as an offensive coordinator, but he's spent his career around successful quarterbacks. He worked closely with Peyton Manning as an offensive assistant during two Super Bowl runs in Denver. He's also served as a position coach for Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr.

Bill Callahan, Brian's father, is a revered offensive line coach who has experience as head coach of the Raiders and Nebraska Cornhuskers, as well as an interim stint in Washington in 2019. Father and son have never worked together.

Jan. 20: Colts interview Rich Bisaccia

His heading coaching tenure was brief, but impressive. He over a Raiders team last season that had been torpedoed by Jon Gruden and Henry Ruggs scandals, and he guided Las Vegas to a 7-5 record and a playoff berth under his direction.

The 62-year-old was Green Bay's special teams coordinator this season.

Jan. 19: Colts interview Jeff Saturday

This interview was expected.

Jan. 16: Colts request interviews with DeMeco Ryans and Wink Martindale

∎ DeMeco Ryans, 38, spent a decade in the NFL as a linebacker, and he’s spent six seasons working his way through Kyle Shanahan’s staff in San Francisco, going from a defensive quality control position in 2017 to three seasons as inside linebackers coach and the last two as defensive coordinator.

∎ Wink Martindale, 59 — his real first name is Don — is a defensive lifer, serving as defensive coordinator for the Broncos, Ravens and Giants.

Jan. 14: Colts interview Aaron Glenn

Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn had the 30th-rated pass defense, 29th-ranked rushing defense, and the worst overall defense, allowing 392.4 yards per game. However, most of the damage came in the first half of the year. After allowing 24 points to each of its first seven opponents, Detroit allowed 17 points or less in four of its last six games. The Lions went 5-1 down the stretch.

Glenn’s candidacy likely is built on his leadership skills as much as his defensive acumen. A former NFL player who spent 15 years in the NFL with the Jets, Texans, Cowboys, Jaguars and Saints, Glenn is part of the Bill Parcells tree of coaching. He spent five years coaching under Parcells disciple Sean Payton in New Orleans, and he’s spent two more with Dan Campbell in Detroit.

Jan. 14: Colts interview Shane Steichen

Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen had rushing game that ranked No. 5 in yardage and first in touchdowns (32), as well as 59 total touchdowns (No. 2 in the league). The Eagles had 4,369 passing yards, and quarterback Jalen Hurts was in the MVP conversation before suffering a late-season shoulder injury.

Steichen worked closely with Nick Sirianni when Sirianni was the Colts' offensive coordinator. Steichen has also interviewed with the Panthers and Texans.

“As far as getting (Steichen) ready for it, I really made a conscious effort of doing that all during the offseason, very similar to what Frank Reich did for me,” Sirianni said this week. “I made it a point of, once a week, getting the guys together and talking to them about things that I felt would help them, when they had time to think about those things a little bit more.”

Jan. 13: Colts interview Ben Johnson

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Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson led an offense that surged in the second half of the season. Detroit had a top-10 passing game (4,444 yards, 29 touchdowns and 7 interceptions; second-fewest INTs in the NFL). Detroit had 23 rushing TDs and 54 total TDs, both third-most in the league.

The 36-year-old doesn’t come from one of the established coaching trees teams have been picking from for the past couple of seasons. Johnson spent seven years in Miami working his way up under Joe Philbin and Adam Gase, then moved to Detroit and reconnected with Lions head coach Dan Campbell, who was a longtime Dolphins assistant and interim coach in 2015. Campbell handed Johnson the keys to the offense this season.

“I’ve said it before, I just think he’s extremely bright, he’s creative, he’s organized, he’s a great communicator. … He’s got it,” Campbell has said of Johnson.

Jan. 13: Colts interview Raheem Morris

The Rams defensive coordinator was Tampa Bay’s head coach for three seasons and Atlanta’s interim coach in 2020. The 46-year-old was 17-31 with the Buccaneers from 2009-11, going 10-6 but missing out on the playoffs in '10. He was 4-7 with the Falcons.

Morris might primarily be a defensive coach — his defense played a key role in Los Angeles winning the Super Bowl last year — but he also has extensive experience on offense.

Morris spent three seasons after his ouster in Tampa Bay as Washington’s defensive backs coach, first under Mike Shanahan and then Jay Gruden. When Dan Quinn hired Morris to be part of his Atlanta staff, the initial plan was to make Morris the assistant head coach and defensive backs coach, but after spending one year on defense, Morris shifted to wide receivers, putting him in offensive meeting rooms for the first time.

Jan. 12: Colts interview Eric Bieniemy

The Chiefs’ offensive coordinator for the past five seasons has been a frequent candidate in head coaching searches, both for his work under highly-respected Kansas City head coach Andy Reid and for his work with superstar Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Bieniemy, 53, has interviewed 15 times for head-coaching positions with 14 teams over the past four years.

“I know what he can do,” Reid said in an interview published on Kansas City’s team website. “I’ve said it 100 times, and I haven’t changed my opinion on that. I hope he gets an opportunity.”

Jan. 12: Colts interview Ejiro Evero

It's a busy time for Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero. He's in line to also interview in Denver and Houston. He has built excellent defenses with the Rams and Broncos. Denver was 5-12 in 2022, but it wasn't the defense's fault. It was seventh in yards allowed (320), 10th rushing and 12th passing.

When Denver fired Nathaniel Hackett with two games left in the season, Evero was offered the job as interim coach, but he declined. He said focusing on his coordinating duties was best for the team.

“His communication skills are of a high level, he’s really good in dealing with his coaches and dealing with his players,” Broncos interim coach Jerry Rosburg said in December. “He’s not afraid to tell a coach what he thinks, and that’s his job. He needs to tell the truth to these guys, and also to his players.”

Jan. 11: Colts interview Bubba Ventrone

The Colts special teams coach had interest in the interim position after Reich's firing, but team owner Jim Irsay chose Saturday.

Ventrone, 40, spent 10 seasons in the NFL as a special teams ace, then immediately headed into the coaching ranks. He joined the Colts when Frank Reich became coach in 2018. Indianapolis has routinely excelled in all phases of special teams in recent seasons, making big plays in coverage units, blocking kicks and the return game.

“I do aspire to be a head coach at some point, whenever the time is right, in the right situation, wherever that may be,” Ventrone said last month.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Colts coaching search: Interviews for head coach opening