The Indianapolis Colts have reportedly finalized who will fill their last coordinator opening this offseason.
Football writer Matt Freeman of Irish Sports Daily reported on March 4 that the Colts are hiring Notre Dame’s Brian Mason as special teams coordinator. Mason held the same position for one season with the Fighting Irish.
Mason, who grew up in Zionsville, Indiana, will be replacing Bubba Ventrone, who served as Indianapolis’ special teams coordinator for five years under former head coach Frank Reich. Mason will be joining a Colts coaching staff who will have a new head coach and two new coordinators.
Ventrone will coach for the Cleveland Browns next season.
Colts Hiring Brian Mason as Special Teams Coordinator
Mason doesn’t have any NFL experience, but in just one season with the Fighting Irish, Notre Dame boasted one of the best special teams units in the country.
“Notre Dame blocked seven punts last fall, which led to many headlines as the Irish had blocked just six punts combined in the previous 10 seasons,” Freeman wrote. “The Irish special teams also finished No. 6 in the FEI Efficiency Rankings. For perspective, Notre Dame had finished in the top 15 in FEI Efficiency just once in 15 years.
“Perhaps the most significant accomplishment of Mason’s tenure was where Notre Dame finished in field position as they ranked in the top 10 for the first time since the metric was first tracked 15 years ago.”
Not only were the Fighting Irish ranked top 10 in field position for the first time in the last 15 years, they were first in the category with an average starting position of their own 33.4 yard line.
Prior to Notre Dame, Mason worked at Cincinnati for five seasons, the last four of which he served as the program’s special teams coordinator, including in 2021 when the Bearcats earned a playoff berth.
Mason began his career as a student assistant running back coach at Denison University, where he played running back from 2005-06. After graduating, he became a graduate assistant defensive line coach at Bluffton. He also served as a graduate assistant coach at Kent State, Purdue and Ohio State before landing a full-time job at Cincinnati in 2017.
Colts Lose Bubba Ventrone to Cleveland Browns
Indianapolis reportedly interviewed Ventrone for its head coaching opening this offseason. But the Colts ultimately hired Shane Steichen for the role.
On February 23, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Ventrone was departing to become the special teams coordinator and an assistant head coach for the Browns.
Mason has big shoes to fill with Ventrone leaving. The Colts had strong special teams units in five years under Ventrone, particularly excelling in punting, field goals and coverage.
Indianapolis dealt with changes at kicker and punter in 2022, yet Ventrone’s units were still solid. The Colts were ranked seventh in fewest yards allowed per punt return, and Chase McLaughlin, who replaced Rodrigo Blankenship following Week 1, made 83.3% of his field goals last season.
Over his four-year tenure, the Colts had four undrafted players on Ventrone’s special teams units earn selections to the Pro Bowl.
It would not be surprising to see Ventrone get more serious consideration for NFL head coach openings in future offseasons.
With Mason’s arrival, the Colts have their three coordinators for the 2022 season under Steichen in place. Indianapolis hired Jim Bob Cooter as offensive coordinator, and the team announced a plan to retain Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator.