What’s in a name? Here’s what’s behind ‘Jackie Moon’


INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – OCTOBER 20: Head coach Frank Reich of the Indianapolis Colts watches his team from the sidelines in the game against the Houston Texans during the third quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 20, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Seldom has a failed play elicited such positive vibes.

And let’s be clear, Jackie Moon was a failed play.

Yet there was Frank Reich Sunday afternoon, talking with the media, methodically dancing from one subject to the next following the Indianapolis Colts’ 30-23 win over Houston at Lucas Oil Stadium.

He touched on Jacoby’s Brissett career day, the stonewalling efforts of his defense, the need to switch from a run-reliant to a pass-heavy offensive approach against the Texans and the “consummate’’ team victory.

Then someone asked Reich to critique Zach Pascal’s throwing motion on a failed third-quarter trick play. Everything worked perfectly, except for Pascal overthrowing a wide-open Nyheim Hines.

“Awww. Awww. Jackie Moon play,’’ Reich said.

He smiled broadly and showed uncharacteristic enthusiasm behind the podium.

“We’ve had that thing up three or four times this year,’’ he went on. “We’re like, ‘This is the week. This is the week. We’re going to hit Jackie Moon.’’’

On the sideline as Jacoby Brissett positioned the offense for a second-and-7 at the Houston 31 – and with Jackie Moon in the barrel – Colts coaches were on the verge of exploding.

“All of the coaches (were) saying, ‘It’s Jackie Moon! We’re going to get us some Jackie Moon!’,’’ Reich said.

But why Jackie Moon? What’s up with that nickname?

Leave it to offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni to explain.

During the offseason, Reich and his coaches routinely show players clips from movies. About the time they were installing what would be the failed Pascal pass, they showed a clip from “Semi-Pro,’’ a movie starring Will Ferrell.

Initially, the design of the play had tight end Jack Doyle delivering the pass to Hines – or someone else – down the right side.

“Sometimes we call him Jackie,’’ Sirianni said of Doyle. “So Jack was throwing it so, ‘OK, we’re going to call this Jackie Moon.’

“There’s not really a name. How do you name it when you throw it back to the receiver and he throws it downfield? We really don’t have a name for it, so (it) was something that might stick in everybody’s head. So we started calling it Jackie Moon.

“For a little bit, we started calling it Zachie Moon cause Zach took it over. Jack wanted it back (throwing the pass) because it was technically named after him. We should have listened to him.’’

On the play, Pascal was lined up on the left of the formation. At the snap, he took a few steps back so Brissett’s delivery to him would be a lateral – or backward pass – and enable him to throw downfield to Hines. The Colts’ running back had leaked out of the backfield and, after brushing J.J. Watt to slow his charge, was 10 yards behind the Texans’ secondary.

Pascal’s pass sailed over Hines’ head.

“Jackie Moon, man,’’ Pascal said after the game. “The only thing that didn’t happen was the throw.’’

“Zach’s got a great arm,’’ Sirianni said. “He’s made that throw so many times. I asked him today, ‘Would you rather throw for one or catch one?’ He said, ‘Man, I wish I had completed that ball.’’’

Pascal attempted one pass at Old Dominion, a 47-yarder. He compensated for his 0-for-1 throwing day against the Texans by catching six passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns.

And about Quenton Nelson

Speaking of trick plays, Reich and Sirianni tossed another changeup at Houston earlier in the third quarter.

On third-and-1 at the 4, they stationed All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson at fullback in front of Jordan Wilkins. Nelson flowed out of the backfield to the left and was picked up by cornerback Phillip Gaines. Nelson was temporarily open even though he finished the play on the ground.

“We coached up his route (running) today just to make sure we got it right,’’ Sirianni said.

He smiled when asked where Nelson was in Brissett’s progression.

“He was second,’’ he said. “He was not the first.’’

Brissett opted for tight end Eric Ebron, who added to his personal highlight reel with a nifty one-handed, toe-tapping catch while falling out of the back of the end zone.

There figures to be more reps for Nelson at fullback in short-yardage and goal-line situations. The team doesn’t carry a fullback, and Nelson is a handful at 6-5, 330 pounds.

“We’re experimenting with some different things,’’ Sirianni said. “His ability to pull, they kind of go hand-in-hand. It was good to get a play called.’’

They’ve yet to attach a name to any play involving Nelson, but that likely will change.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51

And be sure to catch the Colts Blue Zone Podcast:

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