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Reich’s Best/Worst Decisions: Week 3 @Titans

Indianapolis Colts v Tennessee Titans Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Reich Faith-Meter = 6/10

A new addition to this series, the Reich Faith-Meter basically states how much faith I have in Frank Reich both in the short and long term.

To start the season, I would have placed this at 8/10, as Reich had his obvious flaws, but he had proven he could guide the team to the playoffs, could certainly build a locker room culture, had the guts to make some risky calls when the situation called for it, and always had a few tricks up his sleeve. After an 0-3 start to this season, I am not hitting the panic button on Reich just yet, as there are still plenty of games to turn the season around, but my faith in him as the leader of this roster has certainly diminished.

Best Decisions

Going for it on two different occasions to start the second half

This was vintage Frank Reich, and I really liked that he did not try to get cute with it at all. Down 10-14 and desperately needing to score, Reich went for it on two different 4th and 1 occasions, one in the Titans’ 41-yard line, and the other in the Titans’ 15-yard line. The first run was out of the I formation with JT that went for 6 yards, and the second was a creative call with Taylor lining up at fullback and getting the carry again. Had the Colts capitalized on those conversions and scored a touchdown, the momentum would have shifted drastically towards the Colts.

Continuing to involve Michael Pittman Jr. in any way possible

MPJ has been the Colts' most reliable and explosive weapon in the passing game this season, in fact, he has been the Colts' only reliable weapon, so getting him involved in any way possible is the key for the passing game to work. Reich got Pittman involved with outside runs, short routes, medium routes, and even called a jump ball his way. I would like to see some fades thrown to him in the redzone to take advantage of his massive frame, but that will surely come in the near future.

Long drive to kick off the second half

After running just 23 plays, getting only 7 first downs, and holding the ball for a mere 8 and a half minutes in the first half, compared to the Titans 38 plays, for 13 first downs, and a 19:30 T.O.P, the Colts were facing the prospect of facing Derrick Henry in the second half with a fatigued defense. Needing a long drive like water in the ocean, the Colts started the second half with a 17 play drive that took 8 and a half minutes, ending in a field goal. This meant that the Colts' defense was not forced out on the field early, and could get some extra rest. Whether this was by design or just a lucky outcome, that drive helped the Colts defense get fresher legs for the second half.

Worst Decisions

Playing starters that are not fit to be playing

I always want tough players on my team, guys that can tough out injuries and get out there for their team. However, there is a fine line between playing through injury to help out your team and being so banged up that you end up being a liability. Wentz and Leonard were more liabilities than assets. Wentz was in no way ready to start, and Vrabel clearly knew this, consistently orchestrating pressure to make the Colts’ quarterback uncomfortable in a pocket he could not escape. Wentz looked paranoid in the pocket and was a sitting duck when the Titans sent blitzes. Leonard played an absurd 100% of the snaps despite clearly not being at full health to start the season, and he looks really slow. I have no doubt that a healthy Leonard would have gotten enough burst to chase down McNichols before he reached the pylon. In my opinion, Leonard having to play through injury is also a result of Chris Ballard not addressing the linebacker position at all despite losing Anthony Walker.

Redzone play-calling

Once again, the Colts had awful percentages in the redzone converting just one out of three trips into a touchdown. What surprises me, is that the Colts keep insisting on throwing the ball facing 1st and goal, when Wentz has proven he is not the guy in those situations. Inside the 10-yard line, Wentz is 4/11 (36.4% completion rate) with two scores and a pick. Running the ball clearly worked, with Nyheim Hines getting a 9-yard rushing touchdown earlier in the game, so why abandon what was working and try things that have not worked in the past? Insanity is doing the exact same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome, and Reich is acting like an insane person.

Jonathan Taylor’s lack of carries in the second half/Abandoning the run game in the second half

Taylor was destroying the Titans on the ground, and with a banged-up quarterback, the offense clearly needed a consistent rushing attack to take some pressure off Carson Wentz. What did Reich do in the second half? Just abandon the running game despite being down by just one score and put all the pressure on your new, injured quarterback. Perhaps Wentz missed some reads and audibled out of a few runs, and perhaps Reich is still getting used to his new quarterback, as the same early-season struggles happened with Rivers, but the coach needs to get it together and start showing why he got such a long extension.