Reich did not have a good game on Sunday. He continues to show the same flaws that have prevented him from reaching the upper echelon of head coaches in the NFL. He has 15 games to turn it around, but the start has not been promising in 2020.
My favourite college teacher told us at the start of the first lecture “You don’t judge a decision by its result, but by the reasoning made in order to make such decision.” Even though it does not work all the time, I love how Reich goes for it consistently on 4th and short, no matter the position on the field. It shows confidence in his players and it gives the team a big morale boost.
#2: Jack Doyle play call on 4th and short
Facing 4th and 1 on their own 38, Reich called a beautiful play-action pass for Jack Doyle that completely fooled the Jags defense and got 28 yards. Blankenship ended up missing the field goal later in the drive but that was a gutsy call by Reich.
#1: Abandoning the run game early
In Week 1, the Colts were among the teams that had the most passing attempts in neutral situations. That can’t happen for a team whose biggest strength is the running game. As Quenton Nelson’s popular Colts hat says “Run the Damn Ball”. For the Colts offense to work with Philip Rivers the Colts have to able to pound the ball consistently on the ground.
#2: Rushing with Hines on 4th and 1 in the red-zone
This is not the first time Reich has used Hines as a runner on 4th and short. It is also not the first time it failed. I cannot comprehend the decision to use Hines, who weights 195, over Mack (210), Taylor (225), or even Wilkins (216). This is an example of Reich trying to get too cute on the play-call.
#3: Having Rivers play hero ball
Rivers proved last season that he struggles when forced to throw the ball a lot in crunch-time, and Sunday was no different. Rivers was not effective on the Colts two final drives (interception, turnover on downs). Reich has to trust the running game more in late-game situations to open up space for Rivers on play-action calls.
#4: Whatever the defense was doing, all game long
Of course, this falls more on Eberflus’ shoulders than on Reich, but the defense was horrendous on Sunday. The unit made Minshew look elite and got embarrassed by UDFA running back James Robinson. New addition DeForest Buckner made some plays against the Jaguars running game but struggled to get on Minshew, which exposed the weaknesses of the Colts soft zone coverage. The corners did not press the Jags receivers at the line at all, allowing easy short completions that piled up and led to points.
#5: 2 illegal formation penalties on 4 plays
.@colts get flagged 2X in 4 plays for illegal formations! Once for having only 6 men on LOS & once for having 8 on LOS. How in the world is this possible. How does the coach & QB who played forever and a day NOT see this? #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/JpB4Wm7GfJ— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) September 15, 2020
This does not fall entirely on Reich’s shoulders, as a veteran quarterback like Rivers should not make this kind of mistake, but it was mind-boggling.