Frank Reich: ‘It’s killing me’ to have Andrew Luck throw this much

FOXBOROUGH, MA - OCTOBER 04: Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts throws a pass during the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on October 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The NFL is all about history, but Frank Reich realizes he’s tempting fate by having Andrew Luck deliver passes at a historic rate.

A quick reminder: Luck has attempted 121 passes in the Indianapolis Colts’ last two games. That’s the second-most in NFL history, and the most in a five-day stretch. After setting a franchise record with 62 attempts in Sunday’s overtime loss to Houston, Luck kept it up four nights later with 59 in the loss to New England.

“It’s a lot,’’ Luck said after the game.

It’s too many, insisted his coach/play caller.

“Absolutely,’’ Reich said Friday. “It’s killing me to have to throw it this much.

“I know you can’t sustain this. The story doesn’t end well when you have to sustain this level of throwing. Maybe there’s exceptions to that, but I’ve learned that in my past.’’

Game situations have contributed to the Colts’ offensive imbalance. They fell behind the Texans 28-10 midway through the third quarter and trailed the Patriots 24-3 at halftime.

Complicating things is the fact the Colts haven’t been efficient when Reich has dialed up running plays. Rookies Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines are averaging 3.6 yards on 77 attempts.

Through five games, the Colts are running just 28.3 percent of the time. Luck is on a ridiculous pace to attempt 784 passes and complete 521. Each would obliterate the NFL’s single-season marks.

“We know we need balance,’’ Luck said after the game. “We know we need balance. Football’s not rocket science. You need to be able to run the ball well to help protect the passing game.’’

Reich rattled off a list of concerns that highlight the need for some semblance of balance.

“One is there does become more predictability to what you’re doing pass-wise,’’ he said. “Number 2, I just think you’re putting your quarterback at great risk. The third thing is it kind of creates a mindset of a finesse team. It doesn’t have to be like that, but that’s usually what happens.

“I just believe what wins championships is being physical.’’

Reich was around in the mid-2000s when Peyton Manning was setting passing records. The Colts offense, though, also featured a reliable ground attack.

When Reich was the long-time backup quarterback in Buffalo, he witnessed another effective pass-run blend.

“Going back to my playing days, four Super Bowls in a row, Thurman Thomas always had 1,200 yards,’’ he said. “Now Jim Kelly was going to be the star and he was going to throw for a zillion yards, but we were going to have a thousand-yard rusher.

“I just think that’s really important.’’