INDIANAPOLIS – It’s amazing how the script can flip in a short period of time.
The March recruitment of Matt Ryan included a Zoom conference call from the 317 area code. Ryan still was the face of the Atlanta Falcons, but was searching for Phase 2 of his decorated career following the Falcons’ serious pursuit of Deshaun Watson.
He was in his office at his home in Atlanta, and staring at four faces on the screen applying a full-court press to convince him the Indianapolis Colts had a lot to offer.
There was general manager Chris Ballard.
And head coach Frank Reich.
And offensive coordinator Marcus Brady.
And pass-game specialist/assistant quarterbacks coach Parks Frazier.
Ryan smiled when that meeting was broached.
“Yep,’’ he said Wednesday. “If I’m being honest, Parks was probably the least . . . of the four that I talked with . . . the least of what I remember.’’
In hindsight, the thought of Frazier’s inclusion stuck with Ryan.
“I think it’s telling, though,’’ he said. “It was telling he was on that call.
“Certainly shows what Frank and Marcus and Chris think of him, and I certainly think highly of him.’’
Eight months later, Parks has advanced from ancillary participant to integral part of the overall picture.
Brady and Reich have been fired. Ryan was benched and is dealing with a sprained right shoulder, although he returned to practice Thursday.
Frazier? One of the first moves by Jeff Saturday, named interim head coach following Reich’s dismissal, was naming him playcaller.
“He’s been here the longest,’’ Saturday said. “He knows the offense extremely well.’’
Frazier, 30, will be calling the plays for the first time at any level, other than during a practice setting.
As is the case with Saturday, who was put in control despite no experience at the collegiate or pro level, he’s eager to attack the challenge that’s ahead, starting with Sunday’s meeting with the Raiders in Las Vegas.
“I just know how I prepared,’’ Frazier said. “I know where my mindset is. I know that we have a staff that I love and appreciate. These guys have stepped up to the plate, and they’re already helping me so much.’’
Along with Frazier’s knowledge of Reich’s offense – it’s folly to believe much will change from a schematic standpoint – his role on the staff made him a more appropriate choice.
“A floater,’’ Saturday described him.
The other offensive assistants had specific responsibilities: Reggie Wayne (receivers), Scottie Montgomery (running backs), Klayton Adams (tight ends), Chris Strausser and Kevin Mawae (offensive line), Scott Milanovich (quarterbacks).
“My stepping into this role allows everybody else to keep their same roles, and a lot of those processes stay in place, which I think is a big part of it,’’ Frazier said. “For me, I’m confident in my abilities.
“I’m never going to say that I have all the answers because I don’t think anybody has all the answers, and this is what I told the guys: ‘I’m going to work my tail off though to find them.’ That’s all that I can do, is to say I’m going to give you my best. That’s what I bring to the table.’’
Frazier also brings a tireless work ethic. He was part of Reich’s first staff in 2018, initially as Reich’s assistant. He was elevated to offensive quality control in 2020, then to pass game specialist/assistant quarterbacks coach last season.
Frazier always put in the hours; more so now.
“Been a busy week. Yeah, it has been,’’ he said. “Haven’t seen the sunlight. This window right here (the door in the media room), aside from practices, the first time I’ve seen the sunlight.
“But that’s what we sign up for. It’s been a busy week. Obviously a tough week in a lot of ways.’’
Frazier and Reich had grown close, as was the case with so many of Reich’s associates at the Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance Football Center. Reich presided over Frazier’s wedding.
“You guys know how I feel about Frank Reich, about Marcus Brady,’’ he said. “We’ve been through a lot of things in the last couple of weeks, but on the flipside, an opportunity has been presented that I’m ready to take by the horns and go with.
“Like I said, mixed emotions, but I’m ready for the opportunity.’’
Since Reich’s firing on Monday, Frazier hasn’t had the opportunity to talk with him, but they’ve exchanged texts.
“He’s been extremely supportive as he always has been,’’ he said. “I look up to him in so many ways as you guys know. He’s a mentor, a friend, and always will be.
“We’ve texted. He’s given me his support, given me a couple of pointers on things as a first-time playcaller, emotions that you might feel, things to remember.’’
Frazier will rely heavily on the rest of the offensive staff, and Saturday. In the void created by the dismissals of Reich and Brady, it’s fair to expect Frazier to apply a heavier hand in the actual design of the game plan for quarterback Sam Ehlinger.
“Because I’ve been put in this position, part of the position comes with you’re going to be the one calling the play,’’ he said. “So, I have to be comfortable with it, the quarterback has to be comfortable with it, and then we have to execute it and know we’re going to do it well.
“I think that really evolves into all of us making a decision on what plays really go on that game plan.’’
Frazier was on the sideline with Reich last year but moved to the press box this season. That’s where he’ll remain as playcaller.
“I feel like I can see from up there, have my stuff spread out,’’ he said.
Reich was an aggressive playcaller. Did that rub off on Frazier?
“Aggressive, but in my own way,’’ he said. “Aggressive can look a lot of different ways, right? You can run the ball and be aggressive in your own way.
“I don’t want to get into any details obviously competitively, but I’m still an aggressive thinker.’’
Frazier is taking a stronger role with an offense that is categorically one of the NFL’s worst: 32nd in scoring (14.7 points per game), 30th in yards per play (4.8), 27th in total yards (315.1), 30th in rushing (86.7), 24th in third-down conversions (35.8%). The Colts have scored more than 20 points just once, have been outscored 118-42 in the first half and have trailed at halftime in 11 consecutive games.
They’re the only team to trail entering the fourth quarter in every game this season.
“To me, our identity has to be in execution, and that comes from coaching, from playing, from installing it,’’ Frazier said. “What can we do to get better? What are our issues, and how can we make that better?
“In a lot of ways, you want to simplify, right? You want to say, ‘Hey, let’s pick our best concepts, and let’s be great at them.’ . . . maybe tightening our package down.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.