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INDIANAPOLIS – Right away, the hiring seemed to be a win for Andrew Luck.
When the Colts hired Frank Reich in February 2018, it gave Luck his first offensive-minded head coach in the NFL and it also meant Indianapolis would have stability in their system on offense for years to come.
Reich, the former quarterback, clearly did a lot of good for Luck in Year One.
“The experience that he brings, I think he does a great job of seeing the same thing from many different perspectives,” Luck says of Reich. “I think he empowers the quarterback to trust your instincts. As the head coach, he was in 99.9 percent of our meetings this year, position meetings, unit meetings, everything. More than anything this year, we just talked football, talked through plays.”
The message that Reich had printed on shirts last year and instilled into his team certainly got across to No. 12.
“The theme of the year and the theme always with Frank, ‘Get one percent better on what you are doing and where you are and just keep improving,” Luck says.
Such a slogan sounds like ultimate coach speak.
But Nick Sirianni, who worked with Reich in San Diego, before coming to Indianapolis, is adamant that Reich walks his talk.
“He truly practices what he preaches by getting a little better every day,” Sirianni says of Reich.
“I just think he has a way of connecting with everybody. First of all, his knowledge of football. He can connect with anyone with football because of his knowledge of every position. He’s not just talking to the quarterbacks. He’s talking to the receivers. He’s talking to the O-line. He’s talking to the defensive backs and he’s coaching those guys up. So I think that is the instant connection because of the relationship of a coach and a player, or a coach and a coach. Then on top of that, he just has a good feel on how to small talk with guys and connect with guys. The sign of a good leader is you can connect with people and then you can raise their level of play or their level of coaching just by your knowledge, how you inspire guys and just preach to them getting better. You can tell the guys really go by that motto and they continue to get better and that’s off of Frank’s leadership.”
In his first run at being a head coach, Reich clearly had a team that bought into his message, in turning a 1-5 start into a 10-6 run to the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Reich’s offensive system showed the innovation that he promised.
Going into 2019, Reich will need to manage (and embrace) growing expectations outside of the building. With a year’s worth of offensive film now on tape, Reich will not have the same surprise factor that was there in 2018. Fine tuning in-game situations will be needed, along with handling the new rule change in being able to challenge pass interference calls.
One thing that won’t change?
“(I) just want to maintain that aggressive mindset, a fearless mindset and maintain a growth mindset,” the head coach says.
And the work will be put in to tap into that growth.
“My lord, Frank Reich, his work ethic is just legendary,” Jim Irsay says of his head football coach. “That man I don’t know how someone can work as long as he does.
“That’s what it takes.”
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