‘This was a special year’: Colts coach Frank Reich writes letter to fans

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HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 09: Head coach Frank Reich of the Indianapolis Colts reacts in the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 9, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The season may not have ended how fans hoped, but the Indianapolis Colts have a lot to look forward to–and coach Frank Reich is thanking fans for sticking with the team.

While the season ended with a lopsided loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round of the playoffs, the fact the Colts were playing in the postseason at all defied expectations. Going into the season, some experts rated the Colts as the worst team in the NFL. Early on, when the team was 1-5, it looked like those predictions would come true.

Then the team won nine of its last ten games to clinch a playoff berth. The Colts even handed the Houston Texans a loss in the wild-card round.

Reich had kind words for the fans in a letter posted on the Colts website.

“I want to thank you for your unwavering support this season,” Reich wrote. “Although we fell a couple steps short of our desired goal, this was a special year. We have tremendous players and leaders in our locker room. We have a top-notch coaching staff. We have an intelligent and passionate general manager and football operations staff. And most of all, the Irsay family supports us and wants the best for you. We are excited about the future!”

In the letter, Reich said the team is built on three T’s: “Trust, Toughness and Team.” Those principles–and the commitment to get better each game–helped the team rebound from its rough start and reach the playoffs.

“Our conviction in this belief was challenged when we found ourselves at 1-5. With our backs against the wall, we did not change anything – we remained committed to people and process. But it was at this point that we began to use the mantra ‘1-0’ to express our mentality, and at the same time, emphasize a sense of urgency!” Reich wrote.

The team had a mountain to climb and almost reached the summit.

“Week after week our team was tested on this climb. The resolve and focus of our players would not be denied. There was strength, determination and a bond from our players that was inspiring to us all! And although we didn’t quite make it to the top of the mountain this year, you can rest assured there were many lessons learned from our 2018 expedition that will help us in our climb for next year’s season.”

Here’s the letter in its entirety from Colts.com:

Dear Colts Nation,

I want to thank you for your unwavering support this season. Although we fell a couple steps short of our desired goal, this was a special year. We have tremendous players and leaders in our locker room. We have a top-notch coaching staff. We have an intelligent and passionate general manager and football operations staff. And most of all, the Irsay family supports us and wants the best for you. We are excited about the future!

Flying home from Kansas City this past Saturday, I was thinking about the chapter by chapter journey of our season, and I felt compelled to share a few thoughts with you in hopes that you would be both encouraged and maybe even inspired.

At our very first team meeting last April, we laid out a vision that the foundation of our club would be built on three T’s: Trust, Toughness and Team. We chose to have our definition of toughness as a focal point. Painted in the locker room and on our wall as we walk out to practice: “a relentless pursuit to get better every day, an obsession to finish.”

Our daily commitment was focused on people and process. We decided we would surrender the outcome to focus on the process. We believed if we committed to getting “1% better every day” the desired results would follow.

Our conviction in this belief was challenged when we found ourselves at 1-5. With our backs against the wall, we did not change anything – we remained committed to people and process. But it was at this point that we began to use the mantra “1-0” to express our mentality, and at the same time, emphasize a sense of urgency!

We all know “1-0” is not original, and with no context provided, it might even seem a bit ordinary. But ask any team who has ever had their backs to the wall if “1-0” is ordinary. For that matter, ask any person facing difficulties (financial, health, personal), fighting hard just to make it through the next day or the next week…ask them if this kind of mindset is ordinary? The answer, of course, is no. On the contrary, taking a “getting better every day/1-0” mindset is the best approach to overcoming seemingly impossible circumstances.

So, with our backs against the wall, “1-0” took hold. An important side note: there’s only one reason anything sticks in the NFL. It’s the players. It’s the locker room. You need to have the depth of character and the right leadership for it to stick, and we have that!

So here we are at 1-5, we dug ourselves this hole. But what happened over the remaining weeks of the season was, as my daughters would say, “epic!” Only three teams in NFL history had overcome a 1-5 start and made the playoffs.

So how did our team overcome seemingly impossible odds? Well, it all started last April when everyone began making little “deposits” every day, fighting hard to find ways to grow and get better as individuals and as a team. All the way through organized team activities and through training camp. Even through our 1-5 start, no one failed to make a deposit every day. And these daily deposits compounded into something special. The reason for that was because we had commodities in our “account” that are priceless: trust and belief. That is what enabled these small daily deposits to accumulate so quickly.

So, when we were 1-5 and it appeared as if all was lost, nothing could have been further from the truth. The reality was our “account” was about to begin paying out weekly “dividends” that would result in us winning 10 out of the next 11 games. We were “climbing a mountain” only a few had ever climbed.

Week after week our team was tested on this climb. The resolve and focus of our players would not be denied. There was strength, determination and a bond from our players that was inspiring to us all! And although we didn’t quite make it to the top of the mountain this year, you can rest assured there were many lessons learned from our 2018 expedition that will help us in our climb for next year’s season.

On behalf of the entire Colts organization, we express our gratitude for you joining us on this journey, and we also hope you were inspired by our Team and by our “1-0” mantra in ways that might help you climb your own “mountains.”

THANK YOU!

Sincerely,

Frank Reich
Head Coach, Indianapolis Colts

Colts Mission Statement: “To entertain, inspire, and unite by winning the right way.”

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