The dominoes are starting to fall. And, suddenly, there are just two head-coaching openings left.
It’s been three weeks since the regular season ended, and after a quiet start to the coaching cycle that saw just one hire across 21 days — that’d be former Colts head coach Frank Reich landing in Carolina — things heated up rather quickly Tuesday, with the Broncos trading for Sean Payton and the Texans hiring former franchise great DeMeco Ryans.
That leaves just the Colts and Cardinals with vacancies.
Indianapolis is making progress, incremental as it might seem, as general manager Chris Ballard has cut his list of candidates in half. After speaking with 13 coaches for first-round interviews over video, more than any team has in at least four years, Ballard and the Colts began second-round interviews last week.
As of now, seven names remain on the list: interim coach Jeff Saturday, Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Packers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen and Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan.
(Evero has reportedly already interviewed with the Cardinals; Callahan has been requested.)
That means the Colts are interviewing more candidates a second time around than they did during the entire process that led to (nearly) hiring Josh McDaniels after the 2017 season. The Colts conducted just eight total interviews across two coaching searches that year before hiring Reich after McDaniels backed out.
They’re looking at 20 or more this time. And the Colts haven’t ruled out bringing candidates back for third interviews.
The recent sit-downs are much more thorough and expansive than the first-round interviews, which were only around four hours in length. The Colts now are meeting with every candidate in person, which offers a much more personal dynamic than video. Several of the sit-downs have lasted up to 11 hours, starting around 10:30 a.m. and lasting until 9:30 p.m. With more interviews set up this week with coordinators who were coaching in last weekend’s conference championship games, don’t be surprised if the process lingers into Super Bowl week.
Furthermore, based on recent conversations I’ve had with those familiar with the search, I don’t get the sense that Saturday remains a front-runner for the job, despite what some national reports have indicated. We know, with this franchise, that anything is possible — and owner Jim Irsay will make the final call — but at this point, a Saturday hire seems less likely.