INDIANAPOLIS — Sometimes, NFL franchises have nice, quiet offseasons — and then there's the offseason the Indianapolis Colts just wrapped up.
From the minute the 2017 regular season came to an end, the Colts have just about seen it all in the last six-plus months: from the pain of losing a player in a tragic accident, to the up and down (and up again) search for a new head coach, to the step-by-step progression of a franchise quarterback working his way back from injury, and, finally a "new" feeling all around — new coaches, new schemes, new faces.
Heck, even the Colts' facility is undergoing major changes this offseason.
That's not to say the organization didn't eventually start to feel its new "normal," especially as the offseason workout program came to a close last week. Now the Colts have a few weeks off before reporting to training camp at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind., on July 25 with a much better expectation of what to expect moving forward.
But while we wait for camp to get underway, let's take a look back at the major events that shaped the Colts' offseason:
» Dec. 31, 2017: After wrapping up the 2017 regular season with a 22-13 home victory over the Houston Texans, the Colts decided to part ways with head coach Chuck Pagano, who had spent six years leading the franchise. Pagano guided the Colts to a 56-46 overall record (including the postseason) and three playoff appearances — including an appearance in the 2014 AFC Championship Game — but the organization was simply looking to move in a different direction after missing out on postseason play for a third straight year.
» Jan. 28, 2018: Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight end Jack Doyle represent the Colts well in the 2018 Pro Bowl in Orlando, Fla., where their AFC squad earned a 24-23 comeback victory over the NFC team. Hilton, playing in his fourth Pro Bowl, would lead all players with 98 receiving yards on four catches, while Doyle, making his Pro Bowl debut, had two catches for 17 yards.
» Feb. 4: In the early hours of Super Bowl Sunday, tragedy strikes the Colts family. Linebacker Edwin Jackson was one of two people, alongside Uber driver Jeffrey Monroe, who were struck and killed by a suspected drunk driver on the side of the road along Interstate 70 in Indianapolis. Jackson, an up-and-coming talent for the Colts' defense, was just 26 years old. He was later honored in a celebration of life service in his hometown of Atlanta, where Pagano and general manager Chris Ballard were among those who spoke about the impact Jackson personally had on them.
» Feb. 6: After agreeing to contract terms to become the Colts' new head coach, New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels informs Ballard that he will not be joining the team in Indy. "Although we are surprised and disappointed, we will resume our head coaching search immediately and find the right fit to lead our team and organization on and off the field," the Colts say in a press release that night.
» Feb. 11: Less than one week later, after refocusing their search with a few more candidates, the Colts announce the hiring of Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich as their new head coach. Reich, 56, got his coaching start as an intern with the Colts in 2006 and worked his way up from there, becoming an offensive assistant after two seasons and also serving as Peyton Manning's quarterbacks coach starting in 2009, and then serving as wide receivers coach in 2011. A former backup of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly with the Buffalo Bills, Reich would go on to become wide receiver coach for the Arizona Cardinals and quarterbacks coach of the San Diego Chargers before becoming the Chargers' offensive coordinator for two seasons, and then spending two seasons as the Eagles' offensive coordinator, where he would help guide the team to victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
» Feb. 27: Reich and the Colts finalize their 2018 coaching staff. As it turns out, pass rush consultant Robert Mathis and strength and conditioning coach Richard Howell are the only members of the staff retained from the 2017 season. Among the new hires for the Colts are brand new coordinators: Matt Eberflus (defense), Nick Sirianni (offense) and Bubba Ventrone (special teams).
» March 14: Free agency starts leaguewide, and the Colts enter the period with 13 unrestricted free agents after already re-signing kicker Adam Vinatieri to a reported one-year deal. To date, the Colts have re-signed three of their own free agents — cornerback Pierre Desir, guard Jack Mewhort and running back Christine Michael — while the following players have not been brought back: wide receiver Kamar Aiken, inside linebacker Jon Bostic, safety Darius Butler, running back Frank Gore, cornerback Rashaan Melvin, outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, wide receiver Donte Moncrief, center Mike Person, quarterback Scott Tolzien and tight end Brandon Williams. The Colts also eventually brought back all four of their exclusive rights free agents: cornerback Chris Milton, long snapper Luke Rhodes, tight end Erik Swoope and guard Jeremy Vujnovich. Over the next couple months, the team would add a few key outside free agents; guys like defensive lineman Denico Autry, tight end Eric Ebron, wide receiver Ryan Grant, guard/center Matt Slauson, linebacker Najee Goode and tackle Austin Howard.
» March 20: The Colts announce a major modernization project to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. Included in the changes — which are being completely financed by Colts owner and CEO Jim Irsay — are a new, state-of-the-art sports medicine and performance center that will utilize the most progressive concepts to promote player health and development, a new community pavilion and upgraded facilities for players, coaches and player personnel. Renovations affecting football operations are expected to be completed in August before the start of the 2018 season, while all other remaining changes will be completed by the beginning of 2019.
» April 9: The Colts kick off their 2018 offseason workout program, as Reich and his new staff get their first opportunity to meet and begin teaching and evaluating their new crop of players. In his very first team meeting as head coach of the Colts, Reich stresses three key elements for a successful approach: trust, togetherness and teamwork.
» April 28: The Colts wrap up an 11-player haul in the 2018 NFL Draft — the most selections by the team since the draft went to a seven-round format back in 1994. Among the "explosive athletes, both offensive and defensively" picked by Ballard are: guard Quenton Nelson (Round 1, Pick 6), linebacker Darius Leonard (Round 2, Pick 36), guard Braden Smith (Round 2, Pick 37), defensive end Kemoko Turay (Round 2, Pick 52), defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis (Round 2, Pick 64), running back Nyheim Hines (Round 4, Pick 104), wide receiver Reece Fountain (Round 5, Pick 159), running back Jordan Wilkins (Round 5, Pick 169), wide receiver Deon Cain (Round 6, Pick 185), linebacker Matthew Adams (Round 7, Pick 221) and linebacker Zaire Franklin (Round 7, Pick 235). Various moves made by Ballard also have set up the Colts well in the 2019 NFL Draft, when they, as of now, will have as many as 10 picks (and no fewer than eight), depending on the league's compensatory picks system.
» June 12: With things finally beginning to slow down, and with more of a routine creeping its way in, there's a big — and, for the most part, unexpected — boost at the team's first of three mandatory minicamp practices. Quarterback Andrew Luck, who had been methodically working his way back with a stringent rehab regimen for his surgically-repaired right shoulder, is seen throwing a football at the beginning portion of practice, signaling the first time he's thrown in a practice setting since last October, when he attempted to return for the season but would eventually be shut down for the year and placed on Injured Reserve. It was just another step in the process for Luck, who, alongside Reich, laid out what will be expected of him during the six weeks between minicamp and the start of training camp for him to be able to be a full participant in practices once camp gets underway.
» June 14: The Colts wrap up their nine-plus-week offseason workout program with their third and final mandatory minicamp practice. Reich says the team accomplished its goal of installing about 75 percent of its brand new offensive and defensive playbooks during the program, and coupled with a new nutritional and conditioning approach off the field, he said he feels good about where the team is heading into training camp, which kicks off on July 25. "I really feel good about the group we have. The talent level, the character level, everything that we've done, the commitment — I feel very confident that we have the pieces here to really challenge week in and week out and do a lot of good things," Reich said.
2018 VET Mini-Camp - Day One - PRACTICE