INDIANAPOLIS – The 2022 season will be Frank Reich’s 5th year at the helm of the Indianapolis Colts.
At 37-28, the .569 win percentage for Reich ranks 4th in Colts history, behind Tony Dungy, Don Shula and Don McCaffrey.
The Colts have made the playoffs in 2 of Reich’s 4 seasons as head coach, with them still looking for their first AFC South title under him.
Let’s examine Reich through 4 seasons:
-Still Producing Points: In scoring 26.5 points per game this past season, the Colts ranked 9th in the NFL. They’ve been top-10 in scoring in three of Reich’s four seasons as the head coach/play caller of the Colts. While some turnovers defensively have helped in this area, there’s one consistent aspect to Reich’s offenses. That unit has often got off to fast starts under Reich. In 2021, the Colts built two-score leads in 12 straight games (Weeks 4-16). That’s really impressive.
-Finally Beating Playoff Teams Again: It was the elephant in the room that the Colts had to get over in 2021. While the season ended without the Colts missing the playoffs, Reich’s team finally got back to beating playoff teams. They beat postseason participants 49ers, Bills, Patriots and Cardinals. Three of those four wins came on the road. In playing in the AFC’s easiest division, that’s still not enough to put up a double-digit win season/make the playoffs. You have to beat the upper echelon teams to earn those postseason berths and prove you are one of the top tier teams in the league.
-Carson Wentz Commitment: If the Colts do indeed move-on from Carson Wentz this offseason, it will look awful on the Frank Reich evaluation front. Reich, known for his quarterback history, stuck his neck out for Wentz, and the 2021 results did not live up to the return on investment. While Reich helped Andrew Luck, Philip Rivers and even Jacoby Brissett reach some higher heights under his tutelage in Indy, the same success was not there with Wentz (despite having the support of the league’s best runner). Reich’s unwavering belief on Wentz has the Colts seriously debating an uncertain move at QB. That can be crippling to a head coaching tenure.
–Answers To The Pass Rush: Let’s remember that Frank Reich is the ‘head coach’ of the Colts. Therefore, he oversees the entire operation. So what happens with the defense is on his head coaching resume, too. No position group has underwhelmed more in the Reich era than the pass rush. Despite gobs of precious draft capital invested into that position, the Colts have not disrupted the quarterback to the level that is needed for real January football. With this defensive coordinator hire (and subsequent position coaches on defense), Reich has to find coaches that can develop along the defensive front. Remember, recently let go DL coach Brian Baker (after two seasons) had a Reich connection from their collegiate days.
-Handling The Bullseye: The Colts have not handled success well in the Reich era. They’ve been at their best when expectations have been minimal (i.e. following a 1-5 start in 2018 and a 1-4 start in 2021). Questions about proper and needed accountability from the coaching staff are fair. And continued slow starts to seasons have put the Colts in poor early-season positions. When it comes to the first goal for every NFL team (winning the division), the Colts have now gone 7 straight seasons without winning the AFC South. Maintaining leads and finishing games have also been an issue under Reich. In summary of all these, the inability to handle a bigger bullseye has been a struggle for Reich teams.