Shane Steichen Tasked with Delivering the Colts their Next Franchise Quarterback
With just 17.0 points per game last season, the Indianapolis Colts ranked 31st in scoring in 2022. Their 201.9 passing yards per game ranked in the bottom third of the league. After 36 days, 13 candidates, and roughly 132 hours of interviews, the Colts have tabbed Shane Steichen to fix their problem under center.
Steichen, who called plays for the Eagles on Sunday night in Super Bowl 57 (when Philadelphia racked up 417 yards and 35 points), has an impressive track record of work with successful quarterbacks.
Steichen helped Nick Sirianni and the Eagles unlock Jalen Hurts. In 2022, Hurts went from question mark to MVP candidate and plays away from a potential Super Bowl MVP award. Before that, Steichen worked with Justin Herbert and Phillip Rivers as the offensive coordinator in Los Angeles.
At one point in the interview process, Jim Irsay called Rivers to ask him about Steichen.
“It was just a matter of time before he got the opportunity to be a head coach,” Rivers said on Tuesday. “His offensive mind and feel for calling a game is elite.”
Rivers told Irsay during the interview process that Steichen’s ability to call plays from memory was “savant-like.” That’s quite the endorsement from a future Hall of Fame quarterback.
Long-time NFL coach Norv Turner debunked the notion that Steichen is a one-trick pony on Tuesday:
“He’s done a great job all the way back to the Chargers with Justin Herbert and one style of offense. Then in Philadelphia, you look at the progress that Jalen Hurts has made in a different style of offense. So he’s been successful in two different style of systems.”
After years of stop-gap solutions under center in Indianapolis, the Colts are looking for their next Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. The desire to re-establish a franchise quarterback in Indianapolis is something that GM Chris Ballard made crystal clear.
“I failed,” Ballard said during the Colts’ end-of-season press conference. “I’m not going to sit up here and make excuses. I failed a lot of people. “Looking back on it, when you’re changing quarterbacks every year, it’s tough,” Ballard said. “It’s tough on everybody. It’s tough on the team. Not getting that position settled has a little something to do with [the team’s predicament].
“I’ll do whatever it takes,” said Ballard. “If we thought there’s a player that we’re driven to get that makes the franchise and the team better, that’s what we would do. We understand the importance of the position. To get one that you can win with and to be right is the most important thing — not if we take one or not. It’s being right.”
So, Ballard and the Colts are looking for a franchise quarterback. They’ve tabbed Shane Steichen to develop that quarterback.
Still, Steichen made it clear during his introductory press conference that he isn’t here only to be a quarterback whisperer. Instead, Steichen is here to lead the Colts from top to bottom. That includes figuring out how to maximize the balance between their eventual quarterback of the future and star running back Jonathan Taylor.
Steichen said that the Colts will use the passing game to score and the running game to win in Indianapolis.
“My philosophy is we’re going to throw to score points and run to win,” Steichen said. “Now, that can look different each week. Sometimes I’ve went into games saying we’re going to throw it a bunch, then we end up running it 45 times. Flow is going to dictate that.”
That’s nice. That’s also necessary. However, it’s become clear that the Colts will draft a quarterback in April. It’s also clear that the Colts heavily considered that fact when choosing Steichen over a baker dozen candidates in an exhaustive selection process. So, grooming the future under center in Indianapolis will be the most critical task for Steichen, whether he admits it or not.
Steichen said on Tuesday that “accuracy, decision-making, and the ability to create” are the three things he looks for in a quarterback.
Colts’ owner Jim Irsay said the “Alabama guy doesn’t look bad.” Irsay was referring to Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. Sure, Bears fans are going to love that comment. Texans fans, probably not so much. Still, we’ve got a long way to go and Steichen will surely have plenty to say about who the Colts draft.
Whether it be Young, Ohio States’s CJ Stroud, Kentucky’s Will Levis, or Florida’s Anthony Richardson; Steichen will have his quarterback in two months.
Regardless of who it is, he is Steichen’s project. The success of that project will define Shane Steichen’s tenure in Indianapolis, a city starved for a franchise quarterback.