JUST NOW: Reasons Colts’ Shane Steichen Excluded from Award Race


Indianapolis Colts head coach Shane Steichen wasn’t among the top candidates for the NFL’s best coach.

The Indianapolis Colts walked into 2023 with a new attitude and a shift in culture after the floor fell out from under the team the previous season. This fresh feel was largely due to new head coach Shane Steichen breathing revamped life into the franchise.

After a bevy of issues that followed Indy in his first season, Steichen still scratched out an impressive 9-8 record, with many expecting five or six victories. This was also without quarterback Anthony Richardson. Even though the Florida product was a rookie with a lot to adjust to, he was potentially poised to overshoot the doubters with a QB-savvy coach like Steichen as his mentor.

But alas, backup Gardner Minshew led the dance for nearly the entire season, which makes the winning record more impressive. When it’s included that this team nearly won the AFC South division, it should be enough for Steichen to be a shoo-in as a Coach of the Year finalist.

However, this didn’t happen, as Steichen was not selected for one of the final five spots.
Below are the coaches and their final regular season records:

Dan Campbell | Detroit Lions (12-5)
John Harbaugh | Baltimore Ravens (13-4)
DeMeco Ryans | Houston Texans (10-7)
Kyle Shanahan | San Francisco 49ers (12-5)
Kevin Stefanski | Cleveland Browns (11-6)
While names like Campbell, Harbaugh, and Ryans stand out as deserving, Shanahan and Stefanski are more questionable.

Shanahan’s 49ers boasted one of the most complete rosters in the NFL. Along with this, names like quarterback Brock Purdy (16 games), running back Christian McCaffrey (16 games), wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (16 games), tight end George Kittle (16 games), and defensive end Nick Bosa (17 games) were on the field for nearly the entire season.

Not saying Shanahan isn’t a strong coach, as he’s one of the best the league has to offer. But he also has access to a high-end roster in which the key players were almost 100% healthy. Along with this, the offensive and defensive fronts for the 49ers are disgustingly good.
As for Browns coach Stefanski, he has more of an argument than Shanahan.

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Stefanski lost ruthless running back Nick Chubb and quarterback Deshaun Watson early in the campaign. But, where the argument lacks for Stefanski as a finalist is the brutalizing defense and, despite injuries, the highly efficient offensive line. For multiple weeks, Cleveland toted a top defense that featured world eater defensive pass-rusher Myles Garrett (finished with 14 sacks) and ace cornerback Denzel Ward.
Yes, they made the playoffs with Joe Flacco as the passer. But this was still a better and deeper roster than the injuries indicate.

It’s hard to argue against any of these five coaches, but for Steichen to not be a finalist is a bit of a stretch given the circumstances of the entire roster he dealt with in year one of his tenure. It’s likely if the Colts beat the Texans in Week 18 and make the postseason, while winning the AFC South, that Steichen would supplant either Stefanski or Shanahan as a finalist.

Campbell will likely take the crown, as the Detroit Lions have suffered as a franchise for decades until his electric style graced the city and the team.

Bottom Line

This was a year for coaches in the league to make a lot out of little, as many squads dealt with injuries. This is especially true at the most important position in the game, quarterback.

But Steichen did this with one of the greenest and youngest rosters the NFL has, all while having brand new coaches around him and missing key contributors for multiple weeks like running back Jonathan Taylor and tackle Braden Smith, or in some cases, the entire 2023 season like Richardson or tight end Jelani Woods, to name a few.

Steichen will look toward Year 2 and hope for better health across the entire roster. This will help Indy’s squad hit their full potential as they’ll still be one of the younger teams the league has.

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