INDIANAPOLIS – Ten men have guided the on-field fortunes of the Colts during their 28 seasons in Indianapolis.
Two of those coaches, Hal Hunter and Rick Venturi, served in an interim capacity but all participated in games that have built memories for Colts fans.
The Colts have earned a record of 242-229 in Indianapolis counting the playoffs. Here are some key moments or accomplishments under each head coach.
Part one of the two-part look at the coaches runs from 1984 through the 2001 seasons:
FRANK KUSH (1982-84; Overall Record – 11-28-1; Indianapolis – 4-11)
Coached with the team prior to the March 1984 move to Indianapolis…directed the team to a 7-9 record in 1983 and served for the first 15 games in 1984…saw the team win the first game of its Indianapolis era at Houston 9/24/84, 35-21…recorded the widest victory margin with the club 9/30/84, 31-17 over Buffalo…won last-minute decision over Pittsburgh 10/21/84, 17-16, on a 54-yard tipped pass from QB-Mike Pagel to WR-Raymond Butler…earned his final career victory at New York Jets 11/11/84, 9-5, in heavy rain storm.
HAL HUNTER (1984-Interim; Record – 0-1)
Tenure on the sidelines was just one game, a road effort in New England that resulted in a 16-10 setback.
ROD DOWHOWER (1985-86; Record – 5-24)
Earned first career victory over Detroit 9/22/85, 14-6, as RB-George Wonsley rushed for 170 yards…saw club post two 100 rushers (Randy McMillan, Albert Bentley) for only the third time in franchise history in 49-17 win over Buffalo 11/6/85…team posted season-best 496 net yards in 37-10 victory over Green Bay 10/27/85, with two receivers (Matt Bouza, Wayne Capers) topping 100 yards…two of five games with 200 rushing yards came in final two weeks (257 at Tampa Bay 12/15/85; 299 vs. Houston 12/22/85), both wins, and the team ended the season with a 5.0 rushing average, the first such average by an NFL team in a decade…success of the team in 1986 was hurt with a week two shoulder injury to starting QB-Gary Hogeboom…rookie QB-Jack Trudeau was forced to start and set numerous club rookie marks, while rookie WR-Bill Brooks had 65 receptions for 1,131 yards and eight scores…P-Rohn Stark earned Pro Bowl bids in 1985-86 seasons.
RON MEYER (1986-91; Record – 36-36)
Took over with three games left in 1986 season and posted season-ending wins over Atlanta, Buffalo and Oakland…guided 1987 squad to 9-6 record and its first division title since 1977…snapped 14-game series losing streak with 40-21 victory at Miami 11/15/87…earned gritty 9-7 win at Cleveland 12/6/87 in playoff preview…won division crown against Tampa Bay 12/27/87 with 24-6 outcome, and RB-Eric Dickerson rushed for 196 yards…Dickerson and three linemen (C-Ray Donaldson, OT-Chris Hinton, OG-Ron Solt) were among Colts earning Pro Bowl honors…1988 squad won eight of final 10 games for 9-7 record, including memorable 55-23 triumph on MNF over Denver on Halloween Night…Dickerson's 1,659 rushing yards set a team seasonal record…Indianapolis fell in the Divisional Playoffs at Cleveland…club faced the league's toughest schedule in 1989 and posted 8-8 mark, missing playoffs with loss in final game…Dickerson rushed for 1,311 yards and returned to the Pro Bowl with Hinton and Donaldson…1990 season ended with 7-9 mark…rookie QB-Jeff George opened 12 games.
RICK VENTURI (1991-Interim; Record – 1-10)
A veteran assistant as linebackers coach, succeeded Ron Meyer for final 11 games of the season…season-ending injuries to RB-Albert Bentley and C-Ray Donaldson headlined an injured reserve list that reached double-digits…led club to 28-27 victory at the New York Jets 11/10/91 for lone win.
TED MARCHIBRODA (1992-95; Record – 32-35)
Led club to five season-ending wins and a 9-7 record in second stint with team (also 1975-79)…eight-game improvement from previous season tied best one-season turnaround in NFL history…earned 31-20 win at Miami 10/25/92 when DE-Steve Emtman had 90t interception at the gun…K-Dean Biasucci hit three game-winning field goals (10/11 vs. New York Jets; 11/29 vs. Super Bowl-bound Buffalo; 12/20 vs. Phoenix)…after down 1993 season, guided club to 8-8 mark in 1994…45-21 win over Houston 9/4/94 marked RB-Marshall Faulk career debut (143 rushing yards, 3 TDs)…four 100 Faulk ground games helped him to 1,282 rushing yards and 1,804 scrimmage yards in amassing 40.9 percent of club's net yards...QB-Jim Harbaugh set then club seasonal-record with 61.9 completion percentage…27-17 win 10/16/94 marked first win at Buffalo since 1980…six straight late stops inside 10-yard line punctuated 10-6 win over Miami 12/18/94…9-7 mark in 1995 marked then most memorable season in Indianapolis era…27-24 OT comeback wins from 24-3 second-half deficits at New York Jets 9/10/95 and Miami 10/8/95 propelled team, as did 18-17 victory over defending Super Bowl champion San Francisco 10/15/95…10-7 season-ending win over New England 12/23 sealed playoff berth and started near-run to Super Bowl XXX…road playoff wins at San Diego (35-20, 12/31/95) and top-seeded Kansas City (10-7, 1/7/96) took club to Pittsburgh for 1/14/96 AFC Championship game…Indianapolis fell at the gun, 20-16, when Harbaugh's desperation pass aimed at WR-Aaron Bailey eluded his grasp on the ground in the end zone…Harbaugh and Faulk (1,553 scrimmage yards) earn Pro Bowl bids.
LINDY INFANTE (1996-97; Record – 12-21)
Succeeded Marchibroda and became the first Colts head coach to win his first four games…helped direct the club to consecutive playoff berths for first time since 1975-77 run with Marchibroda…saw team rally from 21-3 first-half deficit to 25-24 win on late field goal 9/15/96 at Super Bowl-champion Dallas…Colts took 26-21 victory over expansion Baltimore Ravens and Marchibroda 10/13/96…34-29 win over New York Jets 11/17/96 included eight turnovers, six lead changes, four two-point conversions and both teams scoring eight points in final period…third-string backup QB-Kerwin Bell made first career appearance eight years after being drafted and tossed TD pass in club's 37-10 win over Philadelphia 12/5/96…WR-Marvin Harrison had first of nine career games with three TD receptions at Kansas City 12/15 in 24-19 win…Colts fell in Wild Card Playoffs at Pittsburgh 12/29/96, 41-14…Colts defeated a defending Super Bowl champion for third straight year 11/16/97 with 41-38 triumph over Green Bay, becoming only fourth franchise to pull the feat…QB-Paul Justin passed for 340 yards, Faulk rushed for 116 yards and Harrison had eight receptions for 98 yards…Colts topped Miami 12/14/97, 41-0 as TE-Ken Dilger caught three TD passes in second quarter.
JIM MORA (1998-2001; Record – 32-34)
Earned first win with club 10/4/98 vs. San Diego, 17-12…rookie QB-Peyton Manning capped first comeback win with a 14t pass in waning seconds vs. New York Jets 11/15/98…allowed Manning to take every snap of 3-13 season…5,116 net yards marked first of 13 straight 5,000 seasons…set NFL mark with one-year, 10-game turnaround to 13-3 in 1999…club won second division title in Indy era, posting then the 17th last-to-first NFL finish…led team to 11 straight wins after 2-2 start…topped AFC with 423 points, including 11 games with 25 points…Manning (4,135 passing), Edgerrin James (1,553 rushing) and Marvin Harrison (1,663 receiving) became second NFL trio ever with 4,000/1,500/1,500 season…became first AFC trio leaders in categories together since 1970 and James-Harrison topped NFL in categories to become only the second such seasonal duo after 1932…K-Mike Vanderjagt set club seasonal mark with 145 points (he would eclipse it with 157 in 2003)…earned 100th career win vs. Cincinnati 10/24/99, then the 27th NFL coach to do so…earned dramatic 37-34 win at Miami 12/5/99 on 53-yard Vanderjagt FG at the gun…tied then club record with 11th straight win at Cleveland 12/26/99…lost, 19-16, to Tennessee in Divisional Playoffs 1/16/00, the first playoff game in Indianapolis…won at Kansas City, 27-14, 9/3/00 for club's first road opening win since 1983…in 37-24 win at Seattle 10/15/00, James set club record with 219 rushing yards…led three-game winning streak to end season and earn playoff berth with 10-6 record…Manning (4,413)/James (1,709)/Harrison (1,413) became first 4,000/1,000/1,000 NFL trio in consecutive seasons…James became fifth NFL player to open career with consecutive rushing crowns and the 12th ever to do it back-to-back…Manning-James became NFL's first passing-rushing seasonal champion duo since 1937…club fell in Wild Card playoffs in OT at Miami 12/30/00, 23-17…started 2001 season 2-0 with wins over New York Jets (45-24, 9/9/01) and Buffalo (42-26, 9/23/01)…James (111) set club mark vs. Buffalo (he would tie again in 2005) with fifth straight 100 game…Harrison (146) and WR-Jerome Pathon (168) became only Colts duo with 140 yards in same game…James was lost for season at Kansas City 10/25/01 with knee injury, but rookie RB-Dominic Rhodes had 88t KOR and 77t rush to become only Colt with 70 and 80 yards in same game…Manning had career-long 86t strike to TE-Marcus Pollard on first scrimmage play at New Orleans 11/18/01…Rhodes had 177 yards vs. Atlanta 12/16/01 and 141 vs. Denver 1/6/02 to finish with 1,104, the most rushing yards by an undrafted NFL rookie free agent…Harrison's 15 TD receptions set club mark he matched in 2004, and 109 receptions marked third consecutive 100 season…Manning (4,131) became third player with three straight 4,000 seasons…club finished 6-10.
Please visit Colts.com again for the second part of the two-part feature on Colts head coaches during the club's Indianapolis era.