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New Colts Head Coach Frank Reich Favors an Up-Tempo, Aggressive Offense

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Indianapolis Colts Introduce Frank Reich Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Today’s introductory press conference provided the opportunity to hear Frank Reich speak specifically to what his version of the Colts offense will look like heading into next season. Under the Pagano regime with the exception of the time spent with Bruce Arians at the helm, the Colts offense has been relatively vanilla. If the casual fan can watch a game and predict the next play, you are doing something wrong. Colts fans were frequently left wondering why the team seemed to wait until dire situations to revert to the up-tempo offense that appeared to bring out the best in Andrew Luck.

TENNESSEE TITANS VS. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS Sam Riche/MCT via Getty Images

If you were one of the people perplexed by that, Frank Reich’s comments should be encouraging to you. When asked what his offense would look like, he said things like multiple-look and up-tempo. He talked about being aggressive and imposing the team’s will. Those ideas intrigued me. First, we saw them in action for the team that won the Super Bowl.

The Eagles were not afraid to take risks, to do unique things, and to push the tempo. They went for it in tough situations, were excellent on third downs throughout the playoffs, and used a variety of personnel running similar plays to find success all season.

There was another thing that intrigued me about that philosophy though. It is the exact same kind of thing the Patriots have typically done under Josh McDaniels. I’ll be honest, throughout the whole process I had basically talked myself into McDaniels the guy because I coveted McDaniels the offensive mind. Based on the way Reich is describing the offense the Colts will craft, he plans to run the kind of offense we might have expected to see McDaniels run.

The difference is that we get a guy who understands the value of collaboration instead of a guy who alienated his coaching staff in his only opportunity as a head coach. We get a guy who talked about how important people are in creating a culture, instead of a guy who hung his assistant coaches out to dry as soon as an offer he preferred came along. But enough about McDaniels, because he doesn’t matter anymore.

After reading a great breakdown by the MMQB of how the Eagles crafted the play that won them the Super Bowl, I was excited to hear Reich talk about his new offense. What I heard from him excited me even more. The last time the Colts could characterize their offense as “aggressive” Bruce Arians was calling the plays, but aggressive was one of the first words Reich used to describe the offense he would be calling.

That’s right, Reich confirmed that he will be calling the plays on the field, answering a question many had asked since he did not handle play calling in Philly. What he added was equally important. While the calls on the field would be made by him on game day, the game planning and the building of the call sheet would not be by him. That process would be collaborative, as he stressed multiple times.

If one thing was clear in everything he said during the press conference it was this: Frank Reich is a team player. He, like Ballard, recognizes the limitations faced by an individual person. The importance of a shared vision was clear. They’ll build a detail-oriented staff that grinds and works to find the best ideas and translate those ideas to the play calling sheet Reich will use on game day.

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One of the interesting points he made was regarding his coaching staff. He addressed specifically how after having talked to his defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, he felt that the hire was a “home run.” That relationship will be critical, as it will be important to trust and work well with the defensive coordinator since he will be doing the offensive playcalling. It is encouraging to hear him speak highly of Eberflus.

I’ll be honest, the more I read and hear about Frank Reich, the more I think this hire worked out infinitely better than if the Colts had gotten their first guy. Chris Ballard apparently agreed. He candidly shared with reporters that Reich was not in his top 5. After he had interviewed Reich he said he was asking himself, “What were you thinking?”

When asked specifically about the Colts’ personnel, Reich gave an honest answer. He and Ballard talked mostly about vision. They didn’t delve deeply into personnel and Reich admitted that he would need to spend a lot of time there. But one thing that he pointed out was interesting in that regard. Because he worked previously for the Colts, he indicated that he knew many of the team’s scouts as well as how they viewed players and how they wrote their reports. Maybe that detail doesn’t mean anything. But having a trust level with how your scouting staff evaluates players seems like a bonus that most new head coaches don’t get.

Many have asked over the last few days how Reich might handle the idea that he was the second choice for the job and Reich addressed that question head on, with his own mic-drop kind of moment when he quipped that, “The backup role has suited me well in my career.”

He had a long and successful career as an NFL backup quarterback, but the days of being a backup are over. This is Reich’s show now, and I for one am excited to see what he does with it.