INDIANAPOLIS – North Miami Beach is waiting. It’s calling Reggie Wayne’s name.
And, trust us, he’s listening.
Well, don’t trust us. Listen to Wayne.
The Indianapolis Colts’ icon – second in team history in receptions, yards and touchdowns; arguably first in popularity with the fan base – is in his first year as coach of the receivers’ room. It’s been a difficult season: a six-game losing streak, losses in nine of the last 10, a 4-11-1 record.
“We could be 14-2,’’ Wayne said Thursday. “I’m going to still be thinking about the beach.’’
He laughed, but was serious.
“You know what I mean?” he said. “It ain’t going to matter. It doesn’t matter, winning or losing. I’m still going to think about me on the beach, so it ain’t going to matter.’’
As soon as the schedule allows, Wayne knows his immediate agenda.
“I’m headed to the beach regardless,’’ he said. “As soon as I can, I’m on the first thing smokin’.’’
That shouldn’t be seen as Wayne’s lack of commitment to the franchise or his focus getting the receivers’ room reach for Sunday’s season wrap-up against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium.
He conceded his first season as an assistant – coupled with the tumultuous season – has had its downside from a personal standpoint.
“I didn’t have these bags under my eyes before I got here,’’ Wayne said, smiling. “It’s a lot of hours, a lot of time away from your family, away from your kids.’’
Yet he’s totally invested. Now, and perhaps later.
Does Wayne want to return for 2023? There promises to be significant change.
“That’s not up to me, you know what I mean?’’ he said. “That’s not up to me.’’
Yes, he wants to another shot at further developing the wideouts.
“I only know one way, right?’’ he said. “I got another year on my contract.
“So, if I’m allowed, then I’ll be back. If not, I’ll still support on Twitter.’’
Former head coach Frank Reich attempted to lure Wayne out of retirement several times before Wayne finally agreed to dip his toes in the coaching pool in March. He recently joked he wouldn’t have taken the job if he had known what was going to transpire – offensive coordinator Marcus Brady and Reich being fired, quarterback Matt Ryan being benched, etc. – but Wayne has embraced working with a young receivers’ room.
“I’m an education major, man,’’ said the University of Miami product. “I enjoy teaching. I enjoy educating, So, it’s just another form of it.
“I enjoy seeing a kid go out there and do well; score touchdowns, catch passes. It’s no different if I was in a classroom seeing a kid get A’s and B’s. I enjoy that part of it.’’
What’s been difficult to deal with is the losing. During his 14-year career, the Colts were 150-74 (.670) with 12 playoff berths, two trips to the Super Bowl and one world championship.
“Obviously not the year that everyone anticipated,’’ he said. “It’s something that you’ve got to learn from. I’ve been on the other side of this and I’ve been on this side of it.
“This is what it is. This is what we made. We made this bed, we’ve gotta lay in it.’’
Wayne was pressed on what needs to be done in the offseason to get the franchise back on the proper course. He began to dive deep into the conversation, but thought better of it.
“I don’t know. I don’t know, man.’’ Wayne said, pausing as he looked for the right words. “I can’t answer these questions without pissing somebody off.’’
But then he addressed the overriding priority facing the franchise. And that involves owner Jim Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard finding the appropriate head coach. Whether that’s Jeff Saturday or someone else.
“We’ve just got to find the right guy, I guess, and that’s not easy,’’ Wayne said. “There’s a couple of other teams that are in the similar situation, you know what I mean? I do think it’s kind of like the draft a little bit. Like you think you have the right guy and in a matter of half a season, you realize, ‘Damn, I screwed up.’
“You’ve just got to get the right guy in and kind of mold everybody. The biggest thing, man, is getting everybody to buy in. Buy in whether it’s coaches or players or whatever. You can’t have no finger pointing – not saying that’s what is going on here – but you can’t have any finger pointing or guys halfway in.
“If you go jump in the 12-foot part of the pool, you’ve got to jump in all the way. You can’t just stick your feet in there. So, hopefully you can swim.’’
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