PSA: Despite the fact the title says “Reich’s Best/Worst Decisions” this article will talk about the coaching staff in general.
#1: Aggressive play-calling
It might seem a bit too boneheaded at times, but boy does Frank Reich have guts. He went for it on 4th down 3 times during the game and converted on all 3. I love the confidence Reich shows on the team and their ability to get the first down when it matters the most. So far on this young season, the Colts offense has been excellent on 4th down.
#2: Giving the rookies playing time
The Colts are dealing with an absurd amount of injuries at the moment, I mean, what team can survive without their top two wideouts, their best linebacker, their best safety and having both a starting defensive linemen and a starting cornerback banged up. In the face of all these injuries, Reich resorted to his rookies, giving Bobby Okereke, E.J Speed, Parris Campbell, Khari Willis, and Rock Ya-Sin plenty of playing time against the Raiders. Surely the rookies made their fair share of mistakes, as expected from rookies, but in the long-run, this will benefit their development tremendously. Good call by Reich.
#1: Not crowding the box
There was an obvious mismatch against the giant Raiders offensive line, specially considering the Colts have perhaps the smallest front 7 in the entire League, so it was extremely puzzling to me why the Colts rarely put more than 6 defenders inside the box to help contain the run or bring pressure on Derek Carr. As a result, rookie Josh Jacobs gashed the Colts defense and Carr had a clean pocket on most of his throws. The Colts defense tightened things up after a fatal first quarter, but yet again, late in the fourth when it was rather obvious that the Raiders would run the ball, Eberflus continues to place just 6 men in the box, leaving Khari Willis and Clayton Geathers (both typically box safeties) away from the ball.
#2: Overcomplicating running plays
The Colts have one of, if not the best offensive line in the NFL. I might be wrong here, but I saw that at times Reich would get too complex with the running plays and Mack would be tackled for a loss. I’m no head-coach, but against a depleted Raiders front 7, and especially after Vontaze Burfict’s ejection (please suspend that man indefinitely), I was surprised to see the Colts failing to pound the ball. Instead of complicated misdirections and counters, why not run a few inside zone runs behind Quenton Nelson, the best guard in the League? While I think Reich is one of the best offensive minds in football, I feel as if he outsmarted himself at times.
#3: Kicking a 57 yard FG late in the 2Q
Why on earth would Reich let Vinatieri kick a 57 yard field goal with 37 seconds remaining in the second quarter down 21-10?!? First of all, Vinatieri is still shaking off a horrendous start to the season, and you are asking for him to hit a 57 yarder? I would much rather have gone for it, or even punted the ball, essentially ending the half. Had the Raiders moved the ball 15/20 yards after Vinatieri missed, and they get 3 more points and go into the half up 24-10. Even though Vinatieri ended up missing the kick by just a few feet to the left, kicking the field goal was definitely not the right call.