Two days after the Colts' 2022 season ended, and one day before conducting the first interview of the team's head coaching search, general manager Chris Ballard laid out a potential timetable for his process.
"Consistent, thorough – I don't care if it takes until mid-February to hire the head coach," Ballard said. "It's about getting it right."
On Tuesday, right in the middle of February, the Colts hired Shane Steichen as head coach.
Between early January and mid-February, the Colts conducted 13 initial interviews with head coaching candidates. After that round, lengthier, rigorous interviews were held with a group of those candidates. On Feb. 3, Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay met with Steichen in Philadelphia; a contingent led by Ballard interviewed Steichen in Philadelphia on Feb. 4 (Steichen and the Eagles left for the Super Bowl on Feb. 5).
Irsay was blown away by his conversation with Steichen, and told Ballard that night: "I don't want to tip the deck or anything, but I'm not going to tell you anything you're not going to see."
After Ballard and the rest of the Colts' group spoke to Steichen, he and Irsay met and were in lock-step on who they had at the top of their head coach wishlist.
"Shane just knocked it out of the park and really showed qualities that put him above during the whole process as our man," Irsay said. "... We were both in unison that Shane clearly was the man. It was very exciting because we had a lot of great candidates at that point and it was a close contest. But after talking to Shane, Chris and I both felt, 'Wow, he's clearly our guy above the pack.' We were so excited to get Shane and we thank the other candidates so much for their time and the process was something that produced our head coach Shane Steichen."
Ballard highlighted those from the Colts who participated in the interview process, including Vice Chair/Owners Carlie Irsay-Gordon and Kalen Jackson, Chief Operating Officer Pete Ward, Assistant General Manager Ed Dodds, Director of Team Development Brian Decker, Vice President of Communications Steve Campbell and Senior Director of Human Resources Jasmine Park, as well as the Colts' scouting staff, which collectively put together loads of research on each candidate.
Through that process, Steichen's leadership qualities shined – it wasn't just about his offensive background, specifically with quarterbacks like Philip Rivers, Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts. His experience in offense and quarterback development was an "added bonus," Ballard said, but it was not the deciding factor as to why the team hired him.
"We wanted to get the best fit for us and for the Colts organization," Ballard said. "Shane fit that. Look, we interviewed from defense to offense to special teams, from young to older. We had a very diverse group here and Shane kind of checked all the boxes. A few of them checked most of them, but Shane checked all of them, of what we were looking for."
"I think that we were very open-minded in just trying to learn who is going to walk in and what interview is going to tip the scales because we had great guys," Irsay said. "Rich (Bisaccia) was great, Raheem (Morris) was great and Aaron (Glenn) was great. There were some tremendous people in here interviewing. I think what we learned in the end was that we just felt that Shane (Steichen) had a lot of that offensive magic, which is hard to find in this league. Offense in my mind can be a little more complex and takes a longer time to develop.
"Knowing that we're going to have to find a young quarterback to develop, that's a key factor. But he had to show the leadership, he had to show that he had a presence and boy, did he come through with that in his interview."
The next steps for Steichen and the Colts will be building his coaching staff, with decisions being made and interviews set up in the coming days. And as for what's next at quarterback: the NFL Combine is only two weeks away.
But as the Colts set out to answer that quarterback question, they'll do so with the entire organization on the same page of what that process will look like.
"I know for the last month you've been wondering where we're going and what we're going to do," Ballard said. "And we've come to that moment and couldn't be more excited and proud to have Shane as our head football coach. I know you're going to ask so I will tell you. High integrity, high character, brilliant football mind and philosophically we see the game the same way, which I think is important.
"We see the game the same way and how it needs to be played. I think that's big for the relationship between the head coach and GM."