As expected, assistant coaches following Chuck Pagano out the door
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – They’re always the undercurrent of the tidal coaching changes that reshape the NFL landscape on an annual basis.
They’re the assistant coaches. And, to the surprise of no one, several of them are on the move as the Indianapolis Colts are in the process of transitioning from Chuck Pagano to . . . well, stay tuned on that.
A day after the Colts fired Pagano, general manager Chris Ballard was asked the plans for Pagano’s deep staff of assistants.
“Yeah, we’re currently evaluating that,’’ he said Jan. 1, “and we’ll let the new head coach make some decisions when he gets here.’’
Those decisions are lessening by the day.
Ten days after parting ways with Pagano, at least four of his assistants also have left the organization.
- special teams coach Tom McMahon has taken a similar position with the Denver Broncos.
- offensive line coach Joe Philbin is the new offensive coordinator in Green Bay, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. He was the Packers’ offensive coordinator from 2007-11.
- tight ends coach Jim Hostler will coach the Packers’ receivers, according to SiriusXM NFL Radio’s Alex Marvez.
- defensive backs coach Greg Williams has assumed a similar role with the Broncos.
Massive change with assistant coaches always is expected whenever there’s a change at the top. The new coach wants to surround himself with assistants of his choosing.
Even so, the loss of McMahon figures to be a major hit to the Colts. His special teams units have ranked among the NFL’s best over the past five seasons. Placekicker Adam Vinatieri and former punter Pat McAfee routinely praised the influence of McMahon.
During McMahon’s stint with the Colts, McAfee was selected to two Pro Bowls and Vinatieri and former long-snapper Matt Overton one each. In 2015-16, Vinatieri set an NFL record by converting 44 consecutive field goals.
McAfee retired prior to last season, but only after setting several team career punting records, including gross (46.4) and net (39.8) averages. He also set marks for kickoffs (645) and touchbacks (350).
“(McMahon) has the ability to reach everybody in the room,’’ McAfee told a Denver radio station Wednesday. “A special teams coordinator is the only guy that has to teach the entire team. It’s not just offense. It’s not just defense. It’s everybody. He has to talk to offensive linemen just like he has to talk to D-linemen, corners and kickers and punters. He just has this relatability about him.
“He’s just an incredible coach . . . I’m very thankful for what Tom McMahon did to my career and I think Denver will absolutely love him.’’
Regardless the staff the new Colts coach forms, Ballard made it clear it must be adept at developing the talent at its disposal.
Pagano’s successor, he insisted, has “got to be able to hire a first-class staff that can teach and develop players. That’s what we’re going to be about. We’re going to be about teaching and developing players, and you’ve got to live through some bumps when you do that.
“But I think that’s very important. So, you want a staff full of teachers that can develop not only players, but develop men, and that’s what we’re on the look for.’’
Ballard’s search for a new head coach has consisted of interviews with New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Seattle defensive coordinator Kris Richard, Houston defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel and Kansas City offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, who was hired by the Chicago Bears Monday.
The Colts also reportedly have an interview set up Thursday with Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.