INDIANAPOLIS — The winless Colts will have a new quarterback and a new defensive coordinator when they head to New England this weekend.
And they may not be finished making changes.
On Tuesday, Indianapolis fired defensive coordinator Larry Coyer and announced that quarterback Dan Orlovsky will make his first start since 2008 as the team suffers through its first 0-11 season since 1986.
Coach Jim Caldwell, whose own job could be in jeopardy, said the decision on Coyer was made to “improve communication and production.”
“We feel this is the most effective and realistic way to move forward and win games this season,” Caldwell said in a statement before a scheduled news conference. “We appreciate all of the effort and hard work Larry Coyer put forth in his three years with the Colts.”
Coyer was a defensive assistant for two years in Tampa Bay and in Denver from 2000-06, and he coached Caldwell in college at Iowa. Colts linebackers coach Mike Murphy will take over the defense.
Indianapolis has struggled on both sides of the ball this season after losing quarterback Peyton Manning, who hasn’t played in a game while he recovers from Sept. 8 neck surgery — his third procedure in a span of 19 months.
Firing Coyer is the first move in what likely will be many for the Colts as the front office faces key decisions about Manning, Caldwell and at least a half-dozen other key veterans. Indianapolis is the clear front-runner to land the No. 1 pick next spring and many wonder if the Colts will choose Stanford’s Andrew Luck or another top quarterback with an eye toward the end of the Manning era.
The decision about Orlovsky has only added to the speculation.
Indy signed 17-year veteran Kerry Collins to a $4 million contract to back up Manning. But when Collins sustained a concussion late in a Week 3 loss to Pittsburgh, Curtis Painter took over. Painter, who grew up in Indiana and played at Purdue, started the next seven games and played well early.
Painter then posted four straight weekly quarterback ratings below 51.0 heading into Indy’s bye week, prompting many fans to call for another change.