13. Frank Reich
Career Record: 17-15 (.531)
With The Colts Since: 2018
Last Year’s Ranking: 13
In 2018, it all came together for rookie head coach Frank Reich. Healthy quarterback. Elite draft class. Road playoff victory. In 2019, it all fell apart. Andrew Luck retired in training camp, and injuries ravaged both sides of the ball. That Reich still emerged with a 7-9 club was a victory. One of Reich’s calling cards is his adaptability. In 2018, he pushed the pace, running the league’s fastest offense. In 2019, he slowed it down, accommodating Jacoby Brissett’s more deliberate style. For 2020, he will be reuniting with Philip Rivers, a declining player who had his best three-year stretch under Reich from 2013-15. Reich will be giving Rivers something he almost never had with the Chargers: A dominant offensive line. Reich and Rivers were never pedal to the metal together in San Diego, but Rivers’ quick release behind an actually functioning line will give the duo a lot of different options. Things would have gotten away from any coach in Indy last season. Reich still seems like the man best positioned to put them back on track.
While there’s an old sports cliche, “you are what your record is”, Reich would arguably be a few spots higher on this current head coaching ranking—with a few more wins. However, he was dealt a bad hand about two weeks before last season started when Colts superstar franchise quarterback Andrew Luck abruptly retired.
As such, he’s only two games over .500 with the Colts career wise over the past two seasons and was kept out of the playoffs last season after a 7-9 finish.
Fair or unfair, that’s his record.
Nevertheless, Reich and the rest of his coaching staff tried to make the most of a difficult situation, and with backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett returning to the starter’s role, at least kept the Colts generally competitive in 2019.
Reich’s proven to be a skilled offensive play-caller—who can adapt to his quarterback’s strengths and also occasionally scheme receivers open for easy touchdowns.
The 58 year old head coach will have to tailor his offensive system to a third quarterback in three years, but the latest will be a ‘blast from the past’—as he’s already familiar with Rivers from their time together with the San Diego Chargers.
The Colts should be much improved on offense with Rivers and new offensive weapons—including rookie wideout Michael Pittman Jr. and running back Jonathan Taylor.
Meanwhile on defense, the Colts added All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to anchor their defensive line—in what should also be an improved unit.
With Reich again calling the sideline shots and a revamped roster, the Colts are expected to be one of the most improved teams in the AFC with serious postseason aspirations.
With a playoff win or two—or even a deeper run, Reich could certainly rise up in next year’s head coaching rankings. He’s already one of the better head coaches in football.