While the coaching search didn’t go as expected, the Indianapolis Colts ended up finding and hiring Frank Reich, who by all accounts was a good candidate for the job. Reich enjoyed a long playing career as a backup quarterback. Most of his time was spent with the Buffalo Bills playing for Marv Levy and Ted Marchibroda while playing behind hall of fame quarterback Jim Kelly. After his playing days were behind him, Reich left football for a few years to pursue other interests.
Reich had always maintained a relationship with long time Bills general manager, Bill Polian. Reich called Polian, who as you know was busy leading the front office for the most successful decade any team has ever had in NFL history, and asked for a job as a coach. Reich eventually worked his way to become quarterbacks coach, and if we’re being honest, probably learned as much from Peyton Manning as he was able to teach him. Not a bad gig for your first job as an NFL position coach.
Reich went on to become the wide receivers coach with the Arizona Cardinals in 2012 under then head coach Ken Whisenhunt. 2013 saw Whisenhunt get the ax and accept the offensive coordinator role with the San Diego Chargers, Whisenhunt thought enough of Reich to bring him along for the ride. Our new head coach served as a quarterbacks coach for a year before taking over play calling duties in 2014, when Whisenhunt took the Tennessee Titans head job.
Reich led the Chargers offense with mixed results for two seasons when head coach Mike McCoy had an opportunity to hire Whisenhunt, after the Titans job didn’t exactly work out. McCoy fired Reich, who then took the opportunity to upgrade his job by heading to the Philadelphia Eagles as their offensive coordinator under Doug Pederson, working along side John DeFilippo for two seasons.
Those two seasons in Philadelphia saw Pederson, Reich and DeFilippo build a potent offense. All three men have been hailed for their effort in helping Carson Wentz progress as a passer and the way they were able to modify everything they did on offense when Wentz went down with a torn ACL in week 14 and backup quarterback Nick Foles emerged as the guy who would have to lead them into the playoffs, and ultimately led the Eagles to their first ever Super Bowl victory.
But you knew all of that, right? At this point the story has been told about Reich in some way shape or form a few dozen times, so why did I take the time to write it again? Because Frank Reich’s history as a player and coach is ultimately what is going to determine how he leads this team and more importantly for the purpose of what I’m writing about, what his offense will look like.
Frank Reich did give us a few hints into his vision for the offense:
“We will be a multiple, attack, up-tempo offense. We will be aggressive... We’ll change things up. What I mean by multiple is we’ll use multiple personnel groups and multiple formations. We’ll change the tempo. There will be a strong element of the no-huddle offense. We’ll build the players around that kind of scheme.’’
Most of that is pretty standard fare for an introductory press conference. He was asked about his offense, what’s he supposed to say: “We will be a vanilla, reactionary, slowed down offense.” So it’s not surprising he said what he said on some levels, but when you consider what he said with his history as a player and coach, maybe those standard answers aren’t just an answer that sounds good for the reporters.
Over the next few days I’m going to give you more intricate details on what I expect the 2018 Frank Reich led Indianapolis Colts offense to look like. I will say, that while this is an educated theory (I subjected myself to all 16 San Diego Chargers contests of the 2014 season for this series, you’re welcome) it is at best a theory. We don’t know, beyond a shadow of a doubt what his offense is going to look like, but I feel I can get pretty close considering his influences and what the man himself has said.
Tomorrow morning we will cover Frank Reich's time at Maryland and progress as the week goes on, culminating in what I expect his offense to look like. I hope you enjoy reading about the Colts new head coach as much as I have enjoyed researching and writing this piece.
Frank Reich’s offense: The Maryland years
Frank Reich’s offense: The NFL years
Frank Reich’s offense: The assistant coaching years, part 1
Frank Reich’s offense: The assistant coaching years, part 2
Frank Reich’s offense: The 2018 Indianapolis Colts, part 1