2021 NFL coaching changes: Indianapolis Colts

2021 NFL coaching changes: Indianapolis Colts

NFL Coaching Change with fantasy football impact

2021 NFL coaching changes: Indianapolis Colts

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Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni spent two years on the job before recently becoming Philadelphia’s head coach. The move resulted in Indy’s top man, Frank Reich, promoting quarterbacks coach Marcus Brady to the OC position.

Brady, a three-year veteran NFL teaching, was hired by Reich in 2018 as the assistant QBs before his 2019 promotion to the full positional mentor. He cut his teeth in the Canadian Football League as a quarterback for several teams in the 2000s prior to becoming a wide receivers coach for the Montreal Allouettes from 2009-11. Brady was then hired by the Toronto Argonauts in 2013 as their offensive coordinator, a role he held until Reich came calling.

Coaching tendencies

The CFL game hasn’t an apple-to-apple comparable for the NFL’s version of the game, but some concepts remain consistent. In his first year running Toronto’s offense, Brady’s team posted the second-most points per game in the league, and the Argonauts finished third in offensive yards. No team threw for more yards that year. Conversely, it helped create the worst rushing attack in the CFL.

Team ranks under Brady as OC (2013-17)

Year
Team
Pts/G
Pass Att/G
Pass yds/G
Pass TD
Rush Att/G
Rush yds/G
Rush TD
2013*
Toronto Argonauts
2
2
1
1
8
8
5
2014
Toronto Argonauts
3
2
1
1
8
7
9
2015
Toronto Argonauts
2
3
5
1
9
9
9
2016
Toronto Argonauts
4
7
8
6
6
6
9
2017
Toronto Argonauts
6
1
2
4
8
7
9

* The CFL expanded to nine teams after the 2013 season

The CFL differences that impact the game the most for this representation: 1) the field is longer and wider (110×65 yards), 2) teams have 12 players on the field at once, and 3) there’s no fourth down. Those elements dramatically influence playcalling, which typically skews heavily in favor of passing. In other words, Brady will fit right in with the current NFL!

He has been away from those rules for three seasons, but having been a former collegiate QB at Cal State Northridge and a San Diego native, Brady is obviously well-versed in the NFL format.

Brady learned under a former NFL playcaller in Marc Trestman, and at one point in time, the latter was in demand in the states. Trestman, once Chicago’s head coach, was a successful offensive coordinator in multiple stops. His roots are in the West Coast system, with an emphasis on teaching quarterbacks — just like Brady has demonstrated.

Former Colts quarterback Andrew Luck praised Brady’s understanding of the game during their time together, and the 41-year-old coach is known for his unflappable demeanor. Consider that to be among the top intangibles for a first-year offensive coordinator to possess.

Personnel changes

In the upcoming offseason, Indianapolis will be in the market for a starting quarterback after the retirement of Philip Rivers. Indy’s 2019 starter, Jacoby Brissett, is set to hit unrestricted free agency in March, but there may not be much of a market for him outside of the Colts.

With that in mind, the Colts also have been linked to trading for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

Update (Feb. 18): Wentz was traded in an agreement with the Eagles that will be official March 17.

Then there’s the prospect of what to do with a soon-to-be 32-year-old T.Y. Hilton. He has battled diminished play and injuries over the past few years, but the veteran turned it on in the second half of 2020. Hilton told NFL insider Josina Anderson that he’d be interested in returning to the team if things work out for both parties, though he’s focused 100 percent on free agency.

Running back Marlon Mack (Achilles) is a free agent, too, but he probably wasn’t going to return after drafting Jonathan Taylor last spring. Tight end Trey Burton played a useful role at times in 2020. He also will be a UFA in March.

The core of the offense otherwise is poised to return. Indianapolis has major question marks to answer at wide receiver. Indianapolis has a pair of second-round picks invested in the position in the last two drafts, and so far the results have been middling. Michael Pittman Jr. brings considerable promise as he enters Year 2, yet 2019 rookie burner Parris Campbell has been an all too frequent visitor to the blue medical tent. Behind those guys, Zach Pascal is the only receiver with any notable experience.

On the plus side, this is one of the deepest free-agent classes at wide receiver in recent memory. Indy ranks second in most cap space available ($54M), and only Jacksonville has more to spend after the top 51 rostered players are accounted for on the books.

Fantasy football takeaway

With a dominant offensive line and a prized running back in Taylor, Brady may be forced to rely on the ground game more than he prefers.

We examine the value of acquiring Wentz in this Feb. 18 update.

For now, hang your hat on Taylor being the only beacon of hope in this offense. There’s little reason to doubt him as a low-end RB1 target on volume alone. The defensive fronts he faces most often will be determined by the quarterback under center.

Pittman is the only current receiver gamers should be intent on drafting, and his utility is far more secure in PPR settings.

With all of that cap space, a strong line, and a winnable division, Indy will be an attractive spot for free agents. Check back with us as 2021 NFL rosters begin to take form for an update of all things Colts.

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