“That changed – his immediate future was turned upside-down – with a Monday morning phone call from Jim Irsay,” writes Chappell.
‘At about 10:45,’ Reich told Chappell was when he received the news from Irsay.
“They talked – Reich mostly listened – and Irsay informed his head coach he was being fired after four-plus seasons,” Chappell noted from his recent conversation with Reich. “The news came less than 24 hours after Reich’s Colts were overwhelmed by the New England Patriots 26-3. Irsay wasn’t available for a face-to-face, so the two are expected to get together in the next few weeks.”
It’s not necessarily a great public look for the Colts franchise that Reich wasn’t delivered his termination news face-to-face by the team’s top leadership.
He wasn’t Urban Meyer of the Jacksonville Jaguars bad.
Or even Bobby Petrino of the Atlanta Falcons for that matter.
This was Frank Reich, a former member of the Colts coaching staff (even serving as Peyton Manning’s quarterbacks coach from 2009-10) long before he even became head coach in 2018 for Indianapolis.
By all accounts, Reich was a stand-up individual and well respected leader of men, who even if he did eventually lose the locker room this season, was still well regarded by his players as both a person and coach respectively.
It’s the same guy who had a winning record (40-33-1) despite having five different starting opening quarterbacks in just as many seasons. He had been with the Colts five years, never so much as drawing a negative headline for his personal conduct or behavior along the sidelines or off of them.
However, he couldn’t even get a man-to-man meeting with Irsay?
For what it’s worth, Reich has only taken the high road since being relieved of his head coaching duties with the Colts:
“But I understand the business side of things,” Reich said via Chappell. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mr. Irsay and I’ve come to trust his instincts and his knowledge of the game. I just know he’s doing what he thinks is best for the team.”
And all indications are that he would still be the Colts active head coach had former center great Jeff Saturday not accepted the interim position earlier Monday morning:
Irsay says if Saturday had not accepted the job, "we would not be here today." #Colts— George Bremer (@gmbremer) November 8, 2022
However, to me, it seems only logical that Irsay’s conversations with Saturday and regarding having him eventually take over the Colts head coaching reins started long before Monday morning—should Reich’s team (and his offense) continue to struggle.
For what it’s worth too, I do believe that a head coaching change was ultimately needed—although maybe not necessarily in-season (as the on-field product projects to be much of the same with lousy results and more losses piling up). It is surprising that Irsay terminated a head coach for the first time in overseeing the Colts franchise during his 25 years. (And that probably speaks to how he feels about Jeff Saturday and finally landing him as a coach).
Simply put, Reich’s an offensive minded coach, whose offense had been dreadful this season. It no longer mattered who was the offensive coordinator or not—whether it was Reich or the earlier fired Marcus Brady. (And to be fair, no one’s going to have much success if the offensive line continues to play at such a poor level collectively).
Not only had Reich arguably lost the locker room—as the team wasn’t responding to him and his underperforming players weren’t being held accountable, but his team routinely got off to poor starts this season indicating a lack of game preparation and planning.
That being said, when looking at Reich’s complete body of work, especially over his prior four seasons as head coach, he deserved better than what he ultimately received from the Colts franchise at the end of his coaching tenure.
Their actions here spoke much louder than their words.