Though Frank Reich’s Colts have faced a lot of adversity in recent years — the shocking retirement of Andrew Luck and a rash of injuries chief among them — they’ve had a solid bit of success in Reich’s three years as head coach, with a 28-20 record and two playoff appearances. That’s with three different primary QBs over that time (Luck, Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers).
So it shouldn’t be surprising that eventually the vultures would come looking for scraps, and they came from Philadelphia, where Reich was before taking the Colts’ job. In an interesting bit of irony (or perhaps karma, if you’re a believer), the Eagles plucked Colt OC Nick Sirianni as their new head coach, passing over reported interest in Josh McDaniels. Remember, the only reason Reich is the head coach in Indianapolis in the first place is because McDaniels cruelly left the Colts at the altar in 2018 — what goes around comes around, dude.
That is of no solace to Colts fans, of course, who now need to replace their offensive coordinator and their quarterback following Rivers’ retirement, making it almost certain the Colts will have their fourth different primary QB in four years, barring a surprise promotion for Brissett or an even more surprising return to action for Luck.
The task of incorporating that new QB into Reich’s offense will fall on the new offensive coordinator in Indy, Marcus Brady.
Brady is a hotshot, rising coach who received interest from other teams for their open offensive coordinator gig, including Urban Meyer’s Jaguars. Before Meyer or even Sirianni could lure Brady, Reich decided to promote him, which seems wise given how much his staff is already drained by some of Sirianni’s hires (including passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo and TE coach Jason Michael on offense) and the retirement of RB coach Tom Rathman.
Just 41, Brady spent seven seasons as a QB in the Canadian Football League, where he played for Marc Trestman and backed up CFL legend Anthony Calvillo in Montreal. He then coached for nine years in the league, the last six as an offensive coordinator in Montreal (2012) and Toronto (2013-2017). He has spent the last three years under Reich in Indy, the last two as quarterbacks coach.
His background as a CFL QB and coach is especially interesting, given how predominant throwing the football is in that league (with only three downs, many teams don’t bother running it). In fact, the CFL influence will be expansive in Indianapolis — the Colts are expected to replace Brady as QB coach with Scott Milanovich, who was Brady’s offensive coordinator in Montreal and most recently was the head coach of the Edmonton Football Team, though he never coached a game given the COVID-related cancellation of the CFL season (Milanovich was the QB coach in Jacksonville from 2017 to 2019, so he has NFL coaching experience too).
While Reich is expected to continue calling plays, Brady will have a major influence on gameplanning and play design, much like Sirianni before him and much like Reich did under Doug Pederson in Philly.
Obviously, it’s hard to get a full grasp of the task ahead of Brady until we know what ingredients he’s cooking with. The Colts need a QB. LT Anthony Castonzo joined Rivers in retirement. Franchise icon TY Hilton is a free agent, as are all three of the Colts’ top tight ends. It goes without saying that Brady will have a significant hand in choosing the Colts’ next quarterback, and they’re likely to be active on the robust veteran market (Matthew Stafford is definitely available. What about Carson Wentz? Dak Prescott?).
The Colts also need to continue to develop RB Jonathan Taylor, who seems likely to be the focal point of their offense in 2021, at least as it stands now given the state of the rest of the roster. That’s obvious, despite Brady’s background in the high-flying CFL. (The Rathman retirement is concerning for Taylor, of course.) WR Michael Pittman is a promising piece for the future, as is Parris Campbell if he can avoid the injury bug.
The Colts have a win-now foundation on defense but have some massive holes on offense. It will be up to Brady to help convince some gifted veterans to join the cause. Once they get a quarterback, it will all fall into place, and maybe Brady will be able to open things up the way his background suggests he wants to.