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Colts oust 8 assistants, while DC Murphy retires

- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - One horribly bad season has pressed the Colts into major shake-up mode.

Two weeks after cleaning out the front office and two days after firing coach Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis announced most of Caldwell's assistants are out of work, too.

Among the eight assistant coaches let go Thursday were defensive line coach John Teerlinck and his son, Bill; Frank Reich, the onetime quarterbacks coach who coached the receivers this season, and longtime conditioning coach Jon Torine. Linebackers coach Mike Murphy, who served on the staffs of Jim Mora, Tony Dungy and Caldwell and was promoted to defensive coordinator in late November, decided to retire after 27 seasons on the NFL sideline.

That's not all.

Defensive backs coach Alan Williams is leaving the Colts after 10 seasons to become the Minnesota Vikings' defensive coordinator.

All this came despite the midseason firing of defensive coordinator Larry Coyer and the postseason firing of special teams coordinator Ray Rychleski, Caldwell's first two hires.

That leaves only nine of 20 coaches who started the season still on Indy's staff, and their fates may not be determined until the Colts hire a new head coach. The most notable holdover is offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen. Team vice chairman Bill Polian and general manager Chris Polian were both fired the day after Indy finished a 2-14 season, its worst in two decades.

This is the biggest overhaul Indy has had in Peyton Manning's 14-year career.

Team owner Jim Irsay hasn't made this many changes since 1997 when he fired the general manager and coach the day after the season ended, then got rid of quarterback Jim Harbaugh so they could take Manning with the No. 1 overall pick in that draft.

Could it happen again? Yes.

With Manning, the Colts won an NFL-record 115 regular-season games during the previous decade and tied the league record for consecutive playoff appearances with nine.

But with Manning having neck surgery in September, the third on his neck in 19 months, and missing the entire season, the Colts collapsed.

They lost their first 13 games behind three different quarterbacks, then won twice in five days and nearly lost the right to the No. 1 overall draft pick. But a season-ending loss at Jacksonville clinched the top draft spot, which most expect Indianapolis to use on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

If they take Luck, Irsay could elect not to pay Manning a $28 million bonus and let him walk away as a free agent. Or he could retire.

New GM Ryan Grigson said earlier this week that he hadn't yet spoken with Manning and that the medical details would likely dictate Manning's future. Irsay has said he will pay Manning if he's healthy enough to play.

The other coaches let go Thursday were assistant Devin Fitzsimmons, offensive line coach Pete Metzelaars, special assistant to the defense Rod Perry, and quarterbacks coach Ron Turner.

Indy has reportedly sought permission to speak with Tennessee defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, New Orleans offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

A decision on the new head coach isn't likely to come until next week.

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