The Senior Bowl is a who’s who of the football world. If you hang around in the right places you’ll see a never-ending stream of athletes, coaches, and scouts shaking hands, talking about football, and catching up with old friends. What I found out is that if you hang out in the right place long enough, you just might bump into the head coach of your favorite football team, like I did when I ran into Frank Reich on Thursday.
I asked Coach Reich what traits he looked for in a quarterback prospect, how aggressive he thought the team might be in securing a player they like, and what the team looked for at the wide receiver position.
The recording of the interview is embedded at the bottom of this article if you prefer to listen to the interview instead of read the transcription.
CS: I know it’s a long process and you guys are just at the start of it, but how have the quarterbacks looked this week?
FR: The quarterbacks have looked good, you know, and like you said, it’s a long process. You try not to overweight any one throw, any one practice. This is a very small piece of the puzzle, but every piece is important.
CS: Has there been anybody that’s stood out to you?
FR: You know, like I said, I’m not ready to put a stamp on anybody standing out at this point. Just saying that all the guys have shown that they deserve to be here. We got six guys here that they’ve all had good college careers, they’ve all had their good moments out there on the field.
CS: During the evaluation process, what is it that you look for, what’s most important as far as traits go at the quarterback position?
FR: Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of traits that are important, I mean, you know, some of it just starts with just toughness. You know, you gotta have mental and physical toughness. It’s a grueling season mentally, physically, emotionally in every way, so you gotta have those qualities. You know, certainly you’re talking about throwing the football, so you gotta have a certain level of arm talent, and then you gotta be accurate, and then, you know, quarterback, you’re runnin’ the show out there so you gotta be able to process a lotta information very quickly. Then you gotta have a knack for making plays and a knack for leadership that’s just a start. That’s about five or six things that are important, but it’s really the blend of all those things. You know what I mean, and you get these guys out here, they all have those characteristics, but how much of one and how little of another? That’s part of the evaluation process.
CS: So, I know that it’s really early, and you can’t know anything at all, but if there is a guy that you guys identify as being someone who has all of those traits that you’re looking for at a very important position (I’m not gonna pigeonhole you into one), how aggressive do you guys think that you’ll be in possibly moving up or moving down if an opportunity presents itself?
FR: Yeah, you’re exactly right. It’s just so early in the process, you know, it’s like when Chris and I sit and talk about it, you’re always lookin’ to make your team better you know at any position, anytime, anywhere. But there’s a lot of factors, there’s just so many factors that go into that, because you make a move one way and it pulls, it has tension five other places or ten other places, so those are all the factors you have to consider. Now is just the time to get as much information as we can on these players, you know, as far as pullin’ together what moves to make, and when, and how strong do ya go. Those are things that kinda, they become clearer as the information on the players becomes clearer.
CS: Last one for ya: My buddy (Chris Blystone), he’s a big fan of wide receivers. He wanted me to ask about receivers, what traits specifically do you look for in a receiver? Are you looking for some guy who’s a little more athletically gifted but maybe a little more raw or are you looking for somebody who’s refined but might be a little less physically gifted, what would you prefer?
FR: Yeah, I mean, again, it’s like... Like all positions, there’s a lot of ways to be productive, and there’s a lot of skills and traits that go in to playing each position at that wide receiver position. There’s speed, quickness, strength, ball skills, you know separation skills, play-making skills... So really, you know, at the end of the day, you know you’re talking receivers. First of all, you got to be able to, the ball skills aspect, you can’t get mesmerized with a guy just because he’s physically gifted you got to be able to catch the football. Then, as far as size, where you know you’re looking for, you know, a big guy, a small, you know, no, you’re just looking for a player. You’re looking for someone who can fit into your offensive scheme, someone you can envision fitting into the scheme and see how you’re going to use them in your scheme. There’s multiple roles within an offense for the scheme, so, again, as that evaluation process goes, it’s like it slowly comes into vision. “Oh yeah, that’s the guy.” You know what I mean? And he fits there. That light doesn’t go on the first time you watch the tape or see the film, you gotta get all the information.
CS: Well, Coach Reich, thank you very much, I appreciate it.
FR: You’re welcome.
In the moment, I felt that the interview had gone pretty well. I was happy to have had the interaction with the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. I walked to the other end of the field where I sent texts to everyone who I thought might care or at least understand my excitement. Five or ten minutes had passed, and as I was looking down at my phone, probably telling someone else about my conquest, I noticed out of the corner of my eye someone walking up to me. I looked up and it was Frank Reich. He stood next to me and for the next few minutes he asked questions about me and Stampede Blue. We talked about the roles that players, coaches, fans, and the media all play in making the NFL what it is.
He was surprised to learn that I had access to all-22 film, and he asked me if anyone could get it. He laughed pretty hard when I told him “Yeah, for $100 a year”. He seriously had no idea GamePass was a thing.
At the end of the conversation I felt like I had made a friend and, while I know I’m not going to be swapping text messages with Frank Reich anytime soon, it was still a really cool thing for him to do. He didn’t even have to talk to me when I asked for an interview. He didn’t have to give me the detailed (and somehow still guarded) answers he gave me, and he definitely didn’t have to take an interest in who I was and what I did, yet there we were at the 2020 Senior Bowl, learning things from each other about worlds we often see but are unlikely to ever be in ourselves.
Before today, I liked Frank Reich as a football coach. After today, I can no longer be trusted to be objective. The man could kick field goals on 2nd and 1 from the opponent’s 3-yard line and I would be willing to fist fight anyone who said it was a bad decision.
Maybe that’s a little extreme, but Frank Reich really made an impression on me today, and I couldn’t be happier that he’s the man who is coaching my favorite football team. Today was a day I’ll never forget.