After Josh McDaniels spurned Chris Ballard for the Indianapolis Colts’ head coaching position, Ballard quickly regrouped to hire former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich on what is said to be a five-year deal. Reich takes over for Chuck Pagano, whose tenure in Indy was marked by a string of mediocre seasons and playoff misses. The Colts were the first organization to fire their head coach, but the last to name a replacement.
The hiring of Reich fits the mold of what the Colts were looking for in McDaniels–an offensive coach that led a prolific attack in Philadelphia thanks to stellar quarterback play from Carson Wentz and Nick Foles. The Eagles improved from 22nd in the NFL in total offense to seventh this season. Reich ceded play calling duties to head coach Doug Pederson, but his tutelage of Wentz helped the
second-year quarterback immediately transform into an MVP candidate before his season was ended with an ACL injury.
Reich has former ties to the Colts organization. He served as quarterback coach to Peyton Manning for two years (including the 2009 season when Manning won the MVP award) before coaching the Colts’ receivers in 2011. His tenure in coaching and his experience with quarterbacks should be huge for a Colts team that missed Andrew Luck for the entire 2017 season.
The Colts are coming off a 4-12 season, but have reason for hope given the youth of their defensive unit and the performance of players like Malik Hooker (before an injury ended his season early), Jack Doyle and others. The team has $85-million in cap space and will likely target either running back Saquon Barkley or defensive edge rusher Bradley Chubb with the third overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Of course, the most important piece to the puzzle is Luck. Should he return with a healthy shoulder and the Colts can make some improvements to their offensive line, Reich’s relationship with Luck will be vital to the Colts’ success. Even with shoddy defensive units and offensive line play, Luck helped the Colts stay relevant at 8-8 in 2015 and 2016, so they should be in position to surprise some people next season.
In any case, Ballard’s decision to hire Reich was a crucial move in establishing the new direction of the franchise. By committing to an offensive coach with a lot of experience coaching quarterbacks and offensive units around the league, the Colts will now look to escape from the AFC South cellar.
If you would like to receive a notification each time a new Indianapolis Colts article is published, please fill out our email notification form.