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Frank Reich talks Tyquan Lewis’ return, the impact of Tom Rathman on the young RBs

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Press conferences can be over analyzed at times in a search for some point where the coach slips up and reveals more than they mean to. NFL coaches are supremely secretive and Reich is no different, but this week in his press conference he had a few interesting observations as well as a couple notable news items.

We’ve already detailed his statement about the possibility of Jack Doyle returning to action on Sunday, but here are the other highlights from Reich’s press conference.

On the need to win as a team

“It’s great to have an elite franchise quarterback, but this is football and the best teams win consistently and win championships. “

Reich stressed the need for them to play balanced games like this where they win in every phase of the game. It isn’t enough to have great offensive performances or defensive performances alone. They need to all carry their weight if they expect to become a championship contending team. That is the goal they have in mind and what they hope to grow into.

His point is well made also. There are more than a few instances where one side of the ball or the other let the team down and given how close the Colts have played most of their opponents, it is tough not to think this team has a lot more wins if they play more balanced.

On the offensive line’s success

“Obviously, it starts with the guys up front. They’ve worked hard. Good fundamentals and technique, good preparation. A big part of that is the quarterback, Andrew’s done a great job with the protection. He and Ryan Kelly are really the keys to it all, they need to be on the same page, communicating. Backs play a huge role in it. They need to be completely clued in and the backs have done a phenomenal job.

We have a protection plan every week. Just like every other part of the plan, you want to slightly vary it every week in how you’re going to help to make things different but still do the same thing over and over.”

In typical Frank Reich fashion, he forces us to recognize the accomplishment of the team over the individual. When asked about the offensive line’s play over the past two weeks, he immediately points out all the parts that make that possible.

When you hear him talking about how important communication and being on the same page are, it further demonstrates how much continuity can play a role in the line’s improvement. This is a line that is only going to get better as they get more reps together, and it seems like the “protection plans” that Reich and his coaching staff are implementing are quite effective.

On the young running backs’ progress as pass blockers

“I think it is two reasons. One, credit to them for their preparation. But I think they also have the good fortune of probably having a running back coach in Tom Rathman who is as good in that area as there is.”

We know how good Frank Gore was as a pass blocker. He was incredible there, and the Colts running backs are developing under the same guy who helped mold Gore into that kind of player. Rathman has been taking these young backs and making them into the kind of players who will help keep Andrew Luck upright and clean.

Need an example? How about on 3rd and 4 last Sunday when Wilkins stepped up and delivered this little gem:

Not hard to get excited about running backs who are willing to step up and do this, and there is little doubt that it makes an impact on this play as well as the passing game as a whole.

On the impact in the building of getting a win

“It’s just an emotional game. Win or lose, the whole building feels it. So, after a win there definitely is more energy. There’s a great vibe in meetings and in the building. So really we have to focus on, ‘that’s great, let’s feed off that’ but still keep that same grit and determination that we’re gonna fight just as hard, even though you have that positive vibe. “

People have different feelings about the idea of momentum. Personally, I’m a believer that it has an impact. Getting a win in a building full of young players almost certainly matters to them. The longer you go without a win, the harder the process of grinding through the tough workouts, the long film sessions, and all the game planning that is necessary at the NFL level. If you can see how that preparation ties directly to wins, it makes it that much easier to get those young guys to buy in.

On when Tyquan Lewis would return

“Yeah, Tyquan actually will practice today, and then we’ll monitor that as we go.”

This was more than a little bit of a surprise. Rookie defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis started the season on Injured Reserve with a foot injury. Lewis was one of the Colts 2nd round picks, and Stephen Holder said in an article for The Athletic that came out earlier this month, that one Colts official said that Lewis had potential on par with that of Darius Leonard.

Whether or not that is true, it is hard to deny that this staff has fit their draft picks into their new scheme pretty well, and if Lewis can come in and have anything close to Leonard’s impact on the back half of the season, this defense could become a real force.

Lewis’ return to practice today gives the Colts a 21-day clock to determine whether he is healthy enough to reactivate. If not, they can revert him to IR for the remainder of the season. They have one remaining available spot for a player to return from IR if needed.