Dungy accepts five-year offer to coach Colts
Tuesday, Jan. 22
The Colts' hiring of Tony Dungy reunites two coaches, Dungy and offensive coordinator Tom Moore, who worked well together in both Pittsburgh and Minnesota. Dungy gives the Colts the edge they have lacked for the last few years and allows them to keep the offense intact under Moore, a coach who has no objective other than to win games and championships. With Moore running the offense, Dungy will be able to work his defensive magic, bringing that side up to match the offense. It looks like an early recipe for a Super Bowl. Now the Colts need to get the players who best suit Dungy's defensive philosophy. It is likely to take at least two years to acquire and draft the right players and get them to play and understand the philosophy. With eight new starters, however, the Rams were able to turn around their defense in one year, so it can be done. Don't short-change what Dungy could do in the short term.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Tony Dungy didn't need much time to get a new job. Eight days after being fired in Tampa Bay, Dungy reached an agreement in principle to coach the Indianapolis Colts and a formal introduction is expected Wednesday.
"Colts president Bill Polian and Ray Anderson, coach Dungy's representative, are working out the final details," Polian said in a statement. "Both parties expect things will go smoothly." Polian was not available to take questions and a phone message left on Dungy's home answering machine in Tampa, Fla., was not immediately returned. Dungy had returned home after being in Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl earlier Tuesday, Anderson said. Colts owner Jim Irsay said the team had reached a five-year contract with Dungy. The contract, ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli reported, is worth about $12.5 million. That is between $4 million and $5 million more than the Carolina Panthers offered on a five-year deal. The Panthers' proposal was also severely backloaded. Irsay said the Colts had engaged in a bidding war for Dungy with the Panthers. "We weren't going to be outbid for Tony Dungy. He was going to be a Colt for sure," Irsay said. The decision between the Panthers and the Colts, sources told ESPN.com, was more difficult than some felt it would be. Although the Colts are a more talented team, and could contend immediately for a spot in the playoffs if Dungy can enact a quick-fix on the defensive side of the ball, he liked the city of Charlotte and the challenge the Panthers represent. "There was a lot more deliberation here than people probably think," one source said. "The folks in Carolina, the ownership and management there, were impressive." Dungy will join the New York Jets' Herman Edwards as the only black head coaches in the NFL. Dungy, 46, was fired by Tampa Bay last week. The Colts fired coach Jim Mora on Jan. 8, primarily because he refused to get rid of former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Fangio has since accepted the coordinator's post with the expansion Houston Texans. Mora went 32-34 and took Indianapolis to the playoffs twice in four seasons. The Colts went 6-10 this season. Dungy was the most successful coach in Buccaneers history, going 54-42 in six seasons and leading the team to the playoffs four times. The Bucs were 9-8 this season, including a loss to Philadelphia in the wild-card round. But Dungy also fit the profile Polian wanted -- a defensive-minded coach whose system would work with young players. Polian believed Fangio's system was too complex for the Colts young defense. Indianapolis had six first-time starters in its lineup last season and Polian said two weeks ago that the Colts could have four or five more new starters next season. Polian also interviewed New York Jets defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell and was reportedly interested in Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache. Cottrell also has interviewed with the Carolina Panthers and San Diego Chargers, his agent, Joe Linta, said Tuesday. But Dungy's defenses ranked among the league's best throughout his tenure with the Buccaneers, including No. 1 rankings in 1998 and 2000. The Colts defense ranked 29th in defense last season. Dungy's decision likely means the Panthers will now turn to New York Giants defensive coordinator John Fox to fill their head coaching vacancy.
ESPN.com senior writer Len Pasquarelli and the Associated Press contributed to this report.