Frank Reich is out as head coach of the Colts after four and a half seasons. During his time in Indianapolis, the 61-year-old posted a 40-33-1 regular-season record with only two trips to the playoffs, where his team went 1-2.
The Colts, who were favored by many to win the AFC South this season, are 3-5-1 and not looking like a playoff team again following the late fade in 2021. Owner Jim Irsay had to make a change with shaky recent results, including losses in winnable games against the Commanders and Patriots.
With former top assistants Nick Sirianni (Eagles) and Matt Eberflus (Bears) faring well in other places, the Colts’ search will be wide open.
MORE: Why Frank Reich got fired in a rare Colts midseason coaching change
Here’s looking at the best possible candidates Irsay and GM Chris Ballard can target to replace Reich, assuming former long-time Colts center turned ESPN analyst Jeff Saturday, the team’s interim coach, isn’t really a long-term solution:
Colts’ top coaching targets
DeMeco Ryans, 49ers defensive coordinator (age: 38)
The Colts can follow the usual suit and go for a much younger coach on the other side of the ball as a stark contrast to Reich. Ryans has been awesome scheming up the 49ers and also is a former top player in the Mike Vrabel vein to be a master motivator. You can bet the former tough Texans linebacker gets Peyton Manning’s approval.
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan head coach (age: 58)
Would Harbaugh want to return to Indianapolis for an NFL gig given his history as the one-time veteran “Captain Comeback” quarterback of the Colts’ offense? It’s worth at least exploring given Harbaugh still has a pro football itch and he might have peaked with his alma mater. Harbaugh would be a no-brainer if Irsay and Ballard can convince him to resume where he left off with the 49ers.
Shane Steichen, Eagles offensive coordinator (age: 37)
If the Colts can’t get Siranni, they can get someone offensive-minded who works under him. Steichen also had a good stint calling plays for the Chargers. Steichen and defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon have seen their stock go up from Philadelphia’s well-rounded undefeated run.
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Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator (age: 53)
Would this be the job Bieniemy finally gets to break free from Andy Reid in the AFC? The former running back would be great for Jonathan Taylor and also make the Colts’ passing game more creative with their future franchise QB of choice.
Shane Waldron, Seahawks offensive coordinator (age: 43)
Waldron’s balanced and explosive system has been outstanding for Geno Smith, Kenneth Walker and others. He now has top experience under Sean McVay and Pete Carroll. He should get plenty of attention outside of Seattle in this hiring cycle.
Mike Kafka, Giants offensive coordinator (age: 35)
Kafka has been crushing it away from Bieniemy and Reid, getting great experience as a coordinator under Brian Daboll, a strong Coach of the Year candidate as a rookie. The Colts may want to think about bringing in the former Northwestern QB to push their offense forward, too.
Kellen Moore, Cowboys offensive coordinator (age: 34)
Moore should be more on the radar despite his still-young age based on how he keeps adjusting to get the most of Dallas’ potential with now a healthy Dak Prescott again. The Colts could use a fresh younger face, period, if Harbaugh isn’t in the mix.
Bubba Ventrone, Colts special teams coach (age: 40)
Ventrone was a special teams demon as a player and also had two separate stints playing for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. He also coached for him before coming to Indianapolis under Reich. He’s smart and energetic and can fire up the players well. He should be an option to keep things positive inside the building after the late bad Reich vibes.