INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Addressing the fallout after Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels decided not to take the head coaching job in Indianapolis, Colts General Manager Chris Ballard said in a press conference, “Just because you’re the first choice, doesn’t make you the right choice,” and former Colts players who worked with Frank Reich during his assistant coaching tenure in Indianapolis say he is the right choice as head coach.
“It’s football, and obviously Coach McDaniels had some personal interest staying in New England, but I’m glad because I love Coach Reich and what he brings to the table for the Colts,” former Colts wide receiver Austin Collie said. “He’s a guy that every player in the locker room is going to want to play for and respect. Having been there during the glory days of the Colts, I think he’s going to instill that level of accountability in the locker room.”
Reich spent 2008-2011 as a Colts assistant, serving stints as quarterbacks coach and wide receivers coach during his Indy tenure. He was the wide receivers coach in Arizona before working several seasons in San Diego as the Chargers quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. Reich was the Eagles offensive coordinator the past two seasons, leading Philadelphia to their first Super Bowl Championship.
In addition to helping lead the Eagles to a Lombardi Trophy just over a week ago, he played 13 seasons in the NFL as a quarterback for the Bills, Panthers, Jets and Lions.
"As a coach, his ability to relate to players just from his past experience, I know he helped me a ton just understanding the game of football, being a wide receiver and understanding what the quarterback's thinking,” Collie said. “He has proven he has a great offensive mindset, taking the Eagles and Carson Wentz to the Super Bowl and then getting Nick Foles there to finish it off. And not only that, he's just a phenomenal person.”
Collie worked closely with the now Colts head coach when Reich was his position coach in 2011. From his home in Utah, the wide receiver who spent four seasons in Indy says Reich’s offensive prowess is an ideal fit for Andrew Luck and the potential for the Colts offense.
"I believe when you have a head coach who has that offensive mindset, you're going to have an offensive-minded team,” Collie said. “Not saying that the defense is going to be put on the back burner, but that's an area where the Colts have a lot of weapons with Andrew and T.Y. and all the other players that they've got there. I think they have all the weapons, they just need to be able to put it together and I think that's what Frank is going to be able to do especially with getting Andrew where he needs to be physically and mentally to take this team where it needs to go.”
When asked about those who may be skeptical of Reich since he comes in with no head coaching experience, Collie was quick to point out the wide range of coaching experience he brings to the franchise.
"At some point, somebody's got to be the first team to give you a shot, right? And I think the Colts are primed to have him come in and I think the fits the personality of what the Colts are and what they once were,” Collie said. “He knows what winning is all about. He's worked with Peyton, he's played in Super Bowls, and he’s coached in a Super Bowl. For a guy who may lack head coaching experience, he has every angle of football experience under his belt that not many coaches have. There comes a point when a team has to give a guy a shot and I don't think we're going to be talking about any regret of the decision here in the near future."
And although it will undoubtedly take the Colts time to return to AFC prominence in the Frank Reich era, Collie is confident that this hire puts the franchise in position to move in the right direction.
"I think it's on the horizon, the Colts have all the weapons. I think once Andrew gets healthy, I think with Frank's help they're going to hit the ground running this next season. I don't doubt Fran's ability to be the head coach of a team. I think his attitude and his mindset is going to trickle down to every aspect of the game, every meeting room, and the guys he brings on are going to respect him as a head coach and the locker room is going to respect him and there's going to be a sense of accountability there to win ball games."