INDIANAPOLIS – There should be no downplaying the opportunity being embraced by Marcus Brady.
And no one should diminish the challenge that comes with.
After just 12 seasons as a coach at the professional level – nine in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts; three as quarterbacks coach with the Indianapolis Colts – Brady begins the latest phase of his career as coach Frank Reich’s offensive coordinator.
He steps into the void created last week when Nick Sirianni, Reich’s right-hand man the last three seasons, became the new head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
“Obviously thankful for Mr. (Jim) Irsay, Chris (Ballard) and Frank . . . believing in me, giving me this opportunity,’’ Brady, 41, said Tuesday on a Zoom conference call. “And I understand my position.’’
That was a reference to Brady becoming just the fourth Black offensive coordinator in the NFL. He joins Kansas City’s Eric Bieniemy, Tampa Bay’s Byron Leftwich and Detroit’s Anthony Lynn. Bieniemy and Leftwich will be in the spotlight Feb. 7 in Tampa when the Chiefs and Buccaneers meet in Super Bowl LV.
The significance of his promotion and inclusion in such a small fraternity isn’t lost on Brady.
“I understand what’s going on in the media because it is a topic of discussion, the lack of minorities getting these opportunities,’’ he said. “I understand I’ve got to go out there and do a great job.
“It is my responsibility that given this opportunity, I have to go out there and produce so others get the same opportunity that I’ve been blessed with here.’’
That’s the grander view of Brady’s new position.
On a more localized scale, it’s his responsibility to huddle with Reich and oversee a Colts offense that, after a slow start, was one of the NFL’s more well-rounded units last season: 10th in total yards, 11th in passing and rushing, 9th in scoring. Indy finished with 451 points, the 3rd-highest total in franchise history.
But Brady’s ascension to the coordinator’s chair coincides with what promises to be a challenging and defining offseason.
First, Anthony Castonzo retired after 10 seasons, leaving a massive hold at left tackle.
Next, Philip Rivers called it a career after his only season with the Colts, forcing the franchise to launch a search for its latest QB1. Indy faces the prospect of having a different opening-day starter for a fifth consecutive season, barring the unlikely decision to again turn things over to Brissett. The four-year refresher course: Rivers (’20), Brissett (’19), Andrew Luck (’18), Scott Tolzien (’17).
And yet to be determined is the fate of T.Y. Hilton. The four-time Pro Bowler and third-leading receiver in franchise history will be a free agent in March.
Those question marks overshadow so many other positives on offense: the return of four-fifths of the offensive line, including three-time first-team All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson and Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly; running back Jonathan Taylor, who finished third in the league in rushing as a rookie; wideout Michael Pittman Jr., who overcame early injuries to enjoy a solid rookie season; and other assorted complementary parts.
The next few weeks and months are about making certain the positive aspects of the offense aren’t sabotaged by the glaring needs.
Every team, Brady noted, deals with roster turnover.
“It’s really nothing new,’’ he said. “Obviously quarterback’s a very important position. Left tackle is a very important position. We’ve got to address those issues.
“That’s a process we’re going to be working on. Chris and his staff do a great job. Frank and I will put our heads together . . . and put the best roster out there.’’
Brady was asked if he had a preference at QB1. A rookie with intriguing upside? A veteran acquired via a trade or free agency?
Not surprisingly, he declined to tip his hand. The Colts hold the 21st overall pick in the April draft, but they’ve also been linked to Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, who’s likely to be traded before a $10 million roster bonus is due in mid-March.
“Well, yes, but you could go in many different directions,’’ he said. “You could go young. You could go with a veteran. We’ve got to put our minds together and find out who’s out there, who can we get to put in this situation.
“Until we know who we can get, you can’t really make that decision.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.