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INDIANAPOLIS – The numbers should come with a warning for fans wanting to forget about the 2017 season.
But the reason Frank Reich is the head coach in Indianapolis is partly because of the ineptness the Colts had in the fourth quarter last season.
You’ve been warned.
Here’s the evidence (with thanks to Warren Sharp for these grim notes):
-The Colts went 4-12 last season despite leading after the third quarter in 9 games.
-The 2017 Colts are the only team in the last 27 years of the NFL to lose at least 7 games in which they led at halftime.
-The 2017 Colts also have the infamous distinction of being the only team in the last 20 years to hold a lead going into the 4th quarter of at least 9 games, yet win no more than 4 games.
Part of Reich’s busy offseason was trying to decipher why the Colts were so poor in closing out games last season.
“(We) have had a lot of meeting time talking about situational football,” Reich says in trying to correct the end game struggles from 2017. “A lot of that is we have categories, not just two-minute, but end of half, end of game, get in position plays and last plays. So, we have inventory of plays for all those things. So, you meet on them, you show film on them and you practice them. Those are all end of half and end of game situations. We try to wear those things out and then we try to do them in practice as well.”
Too many times last season, the Colts struggled in adapting over the course of a 60-minute game.
When teams adjusted, and crunch time rolled around, things went bleak for the Colts.
“There is no doubt that you are continually adapting series by series and sometimes within a series you see that,” Reich says of the chess match throughout a game. “So that just naturally builds to the fourth quarter and really again this goes back to our same theme. Our same theme is toughness. You know, our relentless pursuit to get better every day and then it’s…an obsession to finish. And that talks about finishing every play and finishing games. It’s a mindset. It’s a confidence but we have to really prepare as coaches. We have to put them in that situation a lot, work through it, talk through it and practice it over and over and over again.”
The return of Andrew Luck can certainly quickly shift how things seemingly always unraveled late in games last season.
If the Colts can change that…
“It’s one play here or one player there,” Reich says of analyzing last season’s film.
“So, although I looked at all of it, I was really more focusing on what we’re going to do and how we’re going to finish games and who are the players that are going to be out there and how are we going to put them in position to finish games and seeing them make those plays to win games for us.”