Back when I was keeping the Co-Host chair warm on The Fan Morning Show with Kevin Bowen, we had ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio on the show on one cold November morning. SalPal was great, but the interview took a turn when I asked him a pretty basic question.
I asked, “Is Carson Wentz, Frank Reich’s last shot in Indy?”
He responded with, “Just so I understand correctly, you’re asking that if Wentz doesn’t work out with the Colts, should Frank be fired?”
“Yes,” I said.
The phone line went quiet for a good 10 seconds, until Sal said “I don’t know about that,” in a pretty disappointing and angry tone. Clearly, I had ruffled some feathers. Understandably, Sal and Frank were friends dating back to Reich’s time with the Eagles and Sal’s terrific years covering the team. I like, respect, and look up to SalPal as a journalist. But that was a pretty sour interview for me.
Here we are on November 7, 2022. Reich has been fired, a week after he canned offensive coordinator Marcus Brady, who I’m sure had a pretty big grin on his face when the Colts got pounded by the New England Patriots on Sunday 26-3.
After the collapse from a year ago when Wentz and company lost to the Las Vegas Raiders at home, and then again to the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road in Week 17, Reich should have been let go.
That was a fireable offense.
In the matter that this went down, that it took a 3-5-1 record to realize things were going this south, something internally had to be happening that we still don’t know about. I told you last week. In any other market, literally name me any city bigger than Indy, Reich would have been handed a pink slip after the way last year ended.
In the way that he reportedly convinced the organization that Wentz was the guy, to how things ended in 2021, that just can’t fly.
Would you rather have Carson Wentz right now compared to what has happened this year? Absolutely. A million percent. Hands down. Give me Wentz under center. But in another devil’s advocate sense, how would have Wentz played this year? Given how the highest paid offensive line in the NFL has looked since the start of the campaign, I don’t think anybody not named Kyler Murray would be able to get out of the pressure that Colts quarterbacks have this year.
Is the offensive line performance on Reich? Not necessarily, but the head coach is usually going to have that fall on his shoulders. It really comes down to the key mistakes that Chris Ballard has made in his philosophy of building this team.
To understand why it took this long to make a major change is just baffling. Could it be an emotional type standpoint that Jim Irsay had a hard time letting go? Possibly. Here’s what I think it is.
Irsay had no idea that the locker room culture (more so confidence and swagger) was this bad. You don’t bring in Jeff Saturday if you don’t think the roster needs an attitude change. If everything was fine and peachy, you would’ve promoted one of Bubba Ventrone, Gus Bradley, or John Fox. Saturday entering the fold tells me that Irsay has zero trust in the people on the sidelines right now and he wants to know what the hell is going on.
Let’s be fair to Frank. Having the revolving door of Scott Tolzien, Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers, Wentz, Matt Ryan, and Sam Ehlinger at quarterback after Andrew Luck retired was the beginning of the end for him at Lucas Oil Stadium. I do feel bad for him in the QB situation alone.
But guess what. This is the National Football League. No other team cares about your problems. They want you to have them. And you can guarantee yourself that most, if not all of the squads around this league have no issue with the hole that the Colts organization has dug themselves into.