Head Coaching Candidates ‘Could Sour’ on Colts in Possible 2023 Scenario

Jeff Saturday

Getty One writer argued what could deter some head coaching candidates, such as Jeff Saturday, to be interested in the Indianapolis Colts this offseason.

Not much has gone as planned for the Indianapolis Colts during the 2022 season. The team has turned into a downright mess — a franchise without a clear future at quarterback or head coach.

But that’s not what worries Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay the most with the Colts. He argued that what could deter head coaching candidates from wanting to come to Indianapolis is the fact that Chris Ballard expects to stay in his role as general manager.

“Keeping Ballard, who is under contract through 2026, could sour some candidates on this opening,” wrote Kay. “Especially those who want to play a bigger role in roster construction.”

That didn’t stop Kay, though, from ranking the Colts as the No. 2 head coach opening on his list he released on December 28.

“[Indianapolis] is still an attractive job in relation to some of the other available jobs.”

Kay only had the Denver Broncos opening ranked higher than the Colts.

Reasons Colts Is an Attractive Spot for New Head Coach

There are only three head coach openings in the league heading into Week 17. So being ranked No. 2 isn’t necessarily that impressive.

Kay, though, included the Arizona Cardinals on his list despite Kliff Kingsbury remaining the Cardinals head coach for now. So the Colts were in the top half of Kay’s list of best available NFL head coach jobs.

The Bleacher Report writer argued Indianapolis was an attractive landing spot for a head coach because of its overall roster.

“The Colts should lure some decent candidates because of their roster makeup alone,” Kay wrote. “The team has Jonathan Taylor—the league’s reigning rushing champion—in addition to some quality pieces such as Quenton Nelson on the offensive line and a strong defense.

“Because of the franchise’s pedigree and ready-to-win roster that only truly lacked health and a good quarterback in 2022, the Colts should find a quality head coach quickly.”

Indianapolis’ best player on both sides of the ball each missed parts of the 2022 season. Taylor suited up for a career-low 11 games while linebacker Shaquille Leonard played just three contests.

If both can return to the fold in 2023, Kay would argue the Colts are a quarterback away from being a contender, especially in the weak AFC South.

Reasons Head Coaches Could Be Hesitant to Come to Indianapolis

The argument Kay deployed to rank the Colts the No. 2 head coach opening was used prior to the 2022 season. Quite frankly, it was the reason Indianapolis dumped Carson Wentz and acquired Matt Ryan.

That move hasn’t worked out, but it’s still kind of hard to believe that the Colts are truly only a quarterback away from competing for a championship.

For one, there’s no guarantee Leonard returns to be the same dominant player. Leonard has undergone two back surgeries in the last seven months. While the decision to shut him down to prepare for next season should give Leonard plenty of time to heal, there are no sure things when it comes to major back procedures.

While the defense has played admirably in 2022 without Leonard, his absence partially explains how the Colts have gone from 33 takeaways last year to just 17 in 15 games this season. And again, Leonard’s return doesn’t guarantee the takeaways come back.

The Colts have also eroded up front on offense. The Colts offensive line has allowed 56 sacks in 2022. Indianapolis is also 26th with an average of 4.1 yards per carry.

The offense line and opportunistic defense were the strengths of the 2021 Colts. Those aspects in the franchise have disappeared.

When looking at Indianapolis’ roster from that perspective, the lack of quarterback is just the tip of the iceberg with the Colts.

It will be interesting to see if head coach candidates see it the same way. Or, maybe they’ll agree with Kay that Ballard is the main reason to be “sour” about the Colts.

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