INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Two of Dave DeGuglielmo’s players have his back.
A day after the Indianapolis Colts fired their offensive line coach, rookie guard Quenton Nelson and center Ryan Kelly came to his defense.
The Colts announced DeGuglielmo’s departure Tuesday afternoon. The initial NFL Network report mentioned Frank Reich made the move because he wanted to have his own coaches in place. DeGuglielmo was one of three assistants already under contract when Reich was hired.
“I’m seeing a lot of speculation/talk from outsiders talking bad about Coach Guge, and I just want to address it,’’ Nelson posted on his Twitter account. “He is a great fundamental coach and a great person. He unified us as an offensive line and pushed us to be the best. Anything else said about him is false.
“With that being said I love Coach Reich and trust in every decision he’s made as a Head Coach. We’re going to improve on last year and I can’t wait for next season.’’
Kelly responded to Nelson’s post.
“This could not have been said any better, not only did he bring together a room but emphasized the importance of technique,’’ Kelly wrote. “In April he told us physicality and fundamentals would ultimately take us as far as we wanted to drive the train. I fully trust in the org. to keep it going.’’
Frank explained his decision to Colts.com. He said he “just decided to part ways with Guge.’’
“And that was really hard, because I so much respect Guge as a person and as a coach,’’ he said. “You know, he played a significant role in us coming in here and the success we had. And it’s hard – it’s hard to explain.
“It was really odd dynamics the way that he and I got connected, and it’s no reflection on him or anything. It’s just when I had envisioned getting this position, you know there’s certain things that you are looking for, in ways that you just want to have ‘my guy,’ for the lack of a better way to say it. You always envision bringing in the guy that you had envisioned bringing in.
“But certainly appreciate the contribution Guge made, and I told him that, and love and respect him.’’
On its face, the decision was a shocker.
After being one of the NFL’s least effective offensive lines over the past several seasons, it emerged as one of the league’s best. It allowed a league-low 18 sacks after yielding a league-high 56 in 2017. Marlon Mack became the first Colts running back to rush for at least 100 yards four times since Joseph Addai in 2007.
The dramatic improvement came in DeGuglielmo’s first season as position coach. It also coincided with the arrival of Nelson, the 6th overall pick in the draft, and Braden Smith, one of the Colts’ four second-round picks who started the final 13 games at right tackle, and the free-agent additions of guards Matt Slauson and Mark Glowinski.
Reich also installed an offense more conducive to protecting the quarterback. Quicker throws from Andrew Luck contributed to him being sacked just 18 times.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.