Colts Lose Head Coaching Candidate From 2022 Staff: Report

Indianapolis Colts

Getty The Indianapolis Colts have reportedly lost another coach from their 2022 staff.

The Indianapolis Colts filled their opening at offensive coordinator this week. But the team now has an opening at special teams coordinator.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on February 23 that Colts special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone is leaving to become an assistant head coach and special teams coordinator for the Cleveland Browns.

Ventrone served as the Colts special teams coordinator throughout the Frank Reich era from 2018-22. During that time, he built one of the best special teams units in the league.

Although the Colts skipped over Ventrone to hire Jeff Saturday as interim head coach, the team reportedly interviewed Ventrone for the head coach opening in January.

Ventrone Departing for Browns

During his five seasons in Indianapolis, the Colts’ special teams units excelled in practically all areas, including punting, field goals and coverage.

In 2022, Ventrone dealt with changes at both kicker and punter. The team cut kicker Rodrigo Blankenship after Week 1 but replaced him with Chase McLaughlin, who made 83.3% of his field goals during 2022.

The team also lost punter Rigoberto Sanchez to a season-ending injury during the preseason. Yet, the Colts still finished seventh in fewest yards allowed per punt return in 2022.

Under Ventrone’s tutelage, four undrafted players on his special teams units earned Pro Bowl selections.

On one hand, it’s strange the Colts would let Ventrone leave for another team in the AFC. But from Ventrone’s perspective, the move makes sense.

The Athletic’s Zak Keefer tweeted on January 11 that “most” in the Colts organization “initially wanted” Ventrone in the interim head coaching position, and not Saturday, starting in November.

Ventrone has never made his feelings about the Saturday hire public, but Keefer tweeted again on February 23 suggesting that decision, “had to bother him.”

Keefer also wrote that with the Browns promoting him to assistant head coach, Ventrone is one “step closer” to being a more serious candidate to become an NFL head coach.

Furthermore, Ventrone played four seasons for the Browns.

A Pittsburgh native, Ventrone began his playing career for the New England Patriots in 2007. He spent two years with the Patriots and then four in Cleveland before playing the final two seasons of his career with the San Francisco 49ers.

In 2015, Ventrone began his coaching career as an assistant special teams coordinator for the Patriots. He served under Bill Belichick for three years before joining the Colts staff.

Colts’ Turnover on Coaching Staff

New Colts head coach Shane Steichen has begun to fill out his staff. He has hired Jim Bob Cooter as offensive coordinator and DeAndre Smith as running backs coach.

But there’s still several openings remaining for the Colts, who are undergoing a major revamp to their coaching staff.

That list from WISH TV’s Charlie Clifford doesn’t even include Saturday or former offensive coordinator Marcus Brady.

Major changes to an NFL coaching staff are typical following the arrival of a new head coach. It was particularly inevitable for the Colts this offseason as three offensive coaches departed before the season even ended.

As far as the defense goes, it’s possible the Colts may have some continuity with the return of coordinator Gus Bradley. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported the team has blocked Bradley from pursuing other opportunities this offseason.

However, Steichen has yet to announce Bradley will definitely return for 2023.

If he doesn’t, then the Colts will be one of just a handful of teams with a new head coach and three new coordinators next season.

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