As Chuck Pagano is set to coach his final game as Indianapolis’s head coach, questions are already swirling on whom the next coach will be. With Ryan Grigson expected to be retained through at least the search process, the Colts find themselves in a rather peculiar position. Nevertheless, the following will list some of the Colts head coaching options:
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Gase finds himself as a hot commodity in coaching circles. Two seasons after helping Peyton Manning achieve the greatest statistical season a quarterback has ever had in 2013, Gase became the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears. Under Gase this season, Jay Cutler saw his interception ratio go down while his passer rating soared to a career high. The Colts offense struggled for a majority of the season both with and without Luck in the lineup. Gase would inevitably help the Colts offense improve after posting some of its worst statistical finishes since 2011. However, Gase’s lack of experience could be a deterrent. Many also believe that the Colts need more help defensively and that an offensive-minded head coach wouldn’t lend to that cause.
Chudzinski will likely be interviewed for the Colts vacancy given his in-house credentials. Chudzinski took over play-calling from Pep Hamilton midway through the season and saw limited success despite not using his own offensive system. Chudzinski’s previous experience as head coach of the Browns plays in his favor and his work with Cam Newton as a rookie in 2011 bodes well for him. Ryan Grigson and Jim Irsay may be inclined to start completely over with the coaching staff and given Chudzinski’s ties to Pagano, this could eliminate him from being an option.
Despite Drew Brees and Payton himself stating their commitment to New Orleans, rumors continue to circulate on where the Super Bowl-winning head coach will be next season. Since trades are technically not allowed, a coach would have to consent to move as the draft choice compensation package and have his deal negotiated with the new team. Some are expecting that this package would look similar to the Jon Gruden/Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade that saw four draft picks and eight million dollars in cash go to the Raiders in exchange for Gruden. Payton’s offensive pedigree could help turn Andrew Luck into the MVP-caliber player many expect him to be. His experience in winning a Super Bowl makes him one of the best candidates in this regard as well. However, given the Colts already thin-talent base on the defensive side of the ball, giving up a king’s ransom for Payton could set the Colts back a number of seasons moving forward.
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The former Oakland Raiders head coach and current Bengals offensive coordinator is another name being thrown into the potential head coach’s hat. Andy Dalton took a giant leap forward this season under Jackson, posting a career best passer rating and a career low in interceptions. Jackson’s impressive ability to get the most out of his players would seem to work well with an Indianapolis team that has loads of talent offensively. However there are a few caveats to Jackson’s potential. Many think he desires to have more of a say in personnel choices given his trade for Carson Palmer during his time with Oakland. This would not mesh well with Ryan Grigson, whom was reportedly already at odds with Chuck Pagano over personnel choices. Some have also questioned Jackson’s success this season as a result of having talented players in AJ Green, Tyler Eifert and Mohammad Sanu.
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Like Adam Gase, Josh McDaniels represents the up and coming generation of offensive coordinators that have seen a level of success. Unfortunately for McDaniels, his time as a head coach saw him be run out of Denver before returning to New England. Like a number of New England coaches, McDaniels struggled outside of Bill Bellichek’s nest. Mcdaniels has seen success as a coordinator however. Tom Brady is in the midst of another successful season with McDaniels at the helm. McDaniels has also shown the vital characteristic to be able to adapt his offense week to week based on whom the team is playing. The Colts and Andrew Luck could benefit from this style of offensive game planning after the same vertical passing attack of 2014 seemed to be thwarted in 2015.While McDaniels failure as head coach may be a deterrent, it could also be seen as a growth opportunity for one of the NFL’s bright, young minds.