Colts Eliminate 3 HC Candidates, Narrow List of Finalists

Jim Irsay

Getty Colts owner Jim Irsay was heavily involved in the search for the team's next head coach during Round 2 of interviews.

The Indianapolis Colts eliminated three head coaching candidates just one week after Round 2 of candidate interviews concluded, per various reports released on February 10.

One candidate who made it through two rounds of head coaching interviews was New York Giants defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale, but it was reported by Bally Sports’ Michael Silver that Martindale was told he’s out of the running.

Shortly thereafter, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer tweeted that Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan is also no longer being considered to become the Colts’ next head coach. Breer added that Callahan was also a candidate to become head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, but they settled on other finalists.

Another coach that was eliminated from the Colts’ head coaching search is Martindale’s counterpart in Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Kafka, who also interviewed with the Cardinals on February 7, is one of Arizona’s three head coaching finalists.

Report Confirms Shane Steichen is a HC Finalist

During the Colts’ second round of head coaching interviews, the team spoke to eight candidates. Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy did not receive a second interview but remains in the running along with Colts special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone. With three candidates eliminated from the search on February 10 as well as Ejiro Evero becoming the Carolina Panthers’ defensive coordinator, seven names remain.

That group includes Bieniemy, Ventrone, Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday, Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, Green Bay Packers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia and Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen.

According to Fox Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano, “Steichen is one of the finalists and, many around the NFL believe, the guy Colts owner Jim Irsay is targeting.”

Working alongside Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni (who was Colts offensive coordinator from 2018 to 2020), Steichen’s offense has turned into a top three unit in 2022. The Eagles also rank third in the NFL in points scored per game (28.1) with quarterback Jalen Hurts leading the way. Hurts finished second in the 2022 NFL MVP voting.

With two Colts candidates — Steichen and Bieniemy — squaring off in the Super Bowl, the expectation is that Indianapolis will announce a new head coach after February 12. The Colts, however, could continue to pare down the list of finalists before then.

Colts’ Ongoing Search for HC

Saturday’s interim hiring was criticized due to his lack of NFL coaching experience and relationship with Irsay. The Colts Ring of Famer finished 2022 with a 1-7 record as Colts interim head coach but has still been regarded by Irsay as an “outstanding candidate” to become the full-time head coach.

Now, Saturday remains a candidate down the home stretch. Despite NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport revealing on February 6 that Saturday’s chances to win the full-time job are diminishing, some fans believe Irsay will still choose Saturday.

ESPN’s Stephen Holder, however, reemphasized on February 10 that each stage of Indianapolis’ search has been intentional.

“I’ll say it again: This Colts coaching search has been extremely deliberate, methodical and thorough,” Holder tweeted. “Nothing I’ve heard from behind the scenes suggests this is anything but a very legitimate search.”

Indianapolis’ head coaching search has lasted more than a month. At one point, the team even considered scheduling a third round of candidate interviews.

Holder said the Colts have been “mulling a final decision since last weekend [February 4] so odds are they’ve arrived at their choice.” Given Josh McDaniels’ last-minute withdrawal from becoming Colts’ head coach in 2018, Holder tweeted that an announcement will only be made when a candidate has officially signed an agreement.

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