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Reich’s Best/Worst Decisions: Week 8 Vs. Titans

Tennessee Titans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Best Decisions

Early Aggressiveness

The Colts went for it twice on 4th down on the first drive of the game and converted both of them. The first one was a 4th and 3 on the Titans’ 38-yard line, and Carson Wentz completed a 6-yard pass to Nyheim Hines to move the chains. The second one came on 4th and goal inside the Titans’ 5, and this time Wentz threw a touchdown to superstar receiver Michael Pittman Jr. I really liked the way the Colts tried to set the tone early on, and it seemed like they had accomplished that, before collapsing.

Scripted Play Calls

Watching the first 15 plays the Colts run on offense every single game is a thing of beauty. Ball moving up and down the field, open holes for backs to exploit, wide-open receivers thanks to beautiful route combinations, Wentz easily hitting his targets. Have to give Reich credit for the way he scripts his opening sequences of plays, as he almost always gets the job done.

Jack Doyle’s touchdown play

Just a really smart RPO design with tight end Jack Doyle coming over the other side of the field completely unguarded, and credit to Carson Wentz for reeling in Harold Landry with the fake and then putting the ball right on the money for Doyle. Rewatching this stuff, you just see that Reich has plenty of good stuff as a head coach, but his mistakes are just so bad.

Worst Decisions

Abandoning Jonathan Taylor in the 4th quarter and overtime

Not counting the final drive of regulation where the Colts were forced to pass the ball due to the situation, the Colts ran the ball with Jonathan Taylor just 4 times in the 4th quarter and overtime. Wentz had 17 pass attempts. You read that right, seventeen pass attempts. If you ask me, this is a fireable offense by Frank Reich and one that should definitely start to put some heat on his seat. Just think about the context: Colts are down 2 of their best 3 receivers. Ashton Dulin and Zach Pascal are not playing well at all as of late. The Titans know that Michael Pittman is the Colts' best option in the passing game. On the other hand, Jonathan Taylor is fresh after not being used that much in the game and has been gashing the Titans' front 7. The offensive line is finally healthy and playing well, but Reich has to be smarter than everyone else and instead just gets too pass-happy. When you print that much merch with “Run the Damn Ball” on it, you better back it up.

Screen pass inside the 10-yard line

While most of the blame for the pick 6 falls on Carson Wentz, the truth is that he should have never been in such a bad position in the first place. This was a terrible play call by Frank Reich at a crucial point in the game and had it not been for a heroic catch by Pittman and a dumb pass interference flag on the Titans the following drive, it is a call that costs the Colts the division.

Conservative defense on 3rd and 17

Over the past 4 seasons, Titans’ kicker Randy Bullock is 28/33 (84%) on field goals between 40-49 yards, and 7/14 (50%) on field goals over 50 yards. The Titans were facing 3rd and 17 on the Colts’ 42-yard line, and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus calls a soft defense giving the Titans’ receivers plenty of space. A.J. Brown caught a short pass by Tannehill and got 14 easy yards, putting the Titans on the Colts’ 28-yard line, and allowing Randy Bullock to kick a much shorter field goal.

Fake Aggressiveness

If you are going to preach aggressiveness and paint yourself as a gutsy coach, you better back it up when it really matters. After tying the game late in the 4th, why not go for 2 and the win there? Reich’s play calls in the redzone were looking solid this game, so why not go for the game-winner here, instead of putting all your trust in a kicker that was on the street just 2 weeks ago. Perhaps it’s just me, but I’d much rather lose a game trying to get the two-point conversion than lose it like that in overtime.