INDIANAPOLIS – Shane Steichen looked the part while making the rounds at the NFL Scouting Combine.
The Indianapolis Colts’ first-year head coach – he’s been on the job for a tad over two weeks – seamlessly moved from one interview to the next Wednesday afternoon. Occasionally, he stopped to shake hands and make small talk with a colleague or member of the media he’s crossed paths with during a 12-year NFL coaching career.
But behind the easy smile was a man who’s been on an amped-up schedule. He’s had little time to settle into his first head-coaching position.
The NFL calendar waits for no one: the Combine, followed by the start of free agency March 15 (two days earlier if you count the legal tampering phase), followed by Pro Days, followed by the April 27 NFL draft.
Oh, there’s also been the not-so-small task of forming his first coaching staff.
Steichen compared that process to the one general manager Chris Ballard oversaw in the hiring of the Colts’ newest head coach. That search was more extensive than is the norm: initial interviews with 13 candidates followed by a more exhaustive round 2 with eight.
“Chris and his staff was very thorough . . . my process of hiring coaches is the exact same way,’’ Steichen said. “They were grueling interviews.’’
If he wanted to bring an assistant or two with him from Philadelphia, the Eagles rebuffed that. Former Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni wasn’t the least bit interested in easing Steichen’s relocation from the Eagles to Indy.
“There’s no doubt Shane wanted to take some guys there, but they’re Philadelphia Eagles coaches,’’ Sirianni said. “It’s my job to keep good coaches in the building. That’s who touches the players every single day and can help them get better.
“When you have good guys there, you want to keep going.’’
Case in point: the Colts didn’t allow defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to look around prior to Steichen’s hiring because they valued him, and Steichen wanted to Bradley to lead his defense.
Steichen and Bradley were on the Chargers’ staff from 2017-20.
“I’ve had a ton of respect for Gus,’’ Steichen said. “I’ve spent four years with him. Just the person he is, the leader he is. Nothing but phenomenal things to say about Gus.
“Very fortunate to have him still in the building and, obviously, the rest of the staff that’s in place.’’
The Colts have yet to release Steichen’s complete staff.
One notable returnee is Reggie Wayne. The franchise icon is back for his second season as receivers coach.
“I’m excited about Reggie,’’ Steichen said. “Fourteen years playing career, a legend in Indianapolis. Had some really good conversations with Reggie. Very detailed. Brings a great wealth of knowledge to that receivers room.’’
Other additions to the offensive staff: Jim Bob Cooter (coordinator), Tony Sparano (offensive line), Tom Manning (tight ends), DeAndre Smith (running backs) and Cam Turner (quarterbacks).
Steichen on Cooter: “Jim Bob has had a lot of success in this league. He obviously started in this league being around Peyton Manning for a while, then he had success with (Matthew) Stafford in Detroit and then obviously this pervious year with (Trevor) Lawrence in Jacksonville.
“His expertise with the quarterback, the way he sees the game, the preparation he puts into it. I got to spend a year with him in 2021 in Philly and really get to know him as a person, see how he saw the game. I have no doubt in my mind that he’s going to do a phenomenal job for us.’’
On Sparano: “I wanted a guy that was very detailed and understood the game and is going to hold those guys accountable.’’
Steichen noted he had a staff in mind as he was going through the process with Ballard, owner Jim Irsay and others. Once he got the job, he got down to the business of hiring them.
“You have to vet guys,’’ he said. “You’ve got to do everything you can, turn over every rock to get the best staff possible.
“I’m just finishing out the staff now and once that gets finalized, I’m going to be all ball.’’