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 BY JEFF FALK

 PHOTOS COURTESY OF INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

 The Indianapolis Colts could take the next step in the process, improve and still not record as many wins as they did last year. That’s the nature of the business. That’s the nature of the NFL.

 Or Indianapolis could improve, win more games and advance even further in the playoffs. Those outcomes are long-term pay-offs for doing things the right way.

 Frank Reich knows there are things out of his hands. His job as head coach is to control the things he can control – and blur the lines between the two as much as possible.

 Reich, a 1980 graduate of Cedar Crest High School, is entering his second season as Indianapolis’ head coach with expectations that are much more defined than in his rookie year. It’s simply the territory that comes with the reigning AFC Coach of the Year, a seven-win improvement and an unexpected playoff appearance.

 “Like every team, we want to win our division,” said Reich, recently by phone from Indianapolis. “That’s always the first goal, but we’re in a very good division. Then you want to get homefield advantage. If you get into the playoffs, you want to win a championship. Every team has those goals.

 “But we’re realy focused on the day-to-day approach, of gettting better every day,” continued Reich. “That’s where we get our energy. That’s where we get our traction.”

  Given the lay of the NFL landscape, Indianapolis is in a really good spot.

  Currently, the Colts are about midway through their training camp preparations for a 2019 NFL season that will open Sunday, September 8 at the Los Angeles Chargers. According to a couple of projections, the Colts are forecasted to win nine games this year and they’re odds for winning the Super Bowl are about 15-1.

 Reich is in his 12th season of coaching in the NFL. He became the Colts’ head coach in 2018, after helping the Philadelphia Eagles win the Super Bowl as their offensive coordinator.

 “We understand that last year there were low expecations and that this year there are high expecations,” said Reich, 57. “That’s great. But we’re not focused on outside expectations. Our expecations are based on the process and how we’re going to come to work every day. If we have high expecations, we understand that the result is wins.

 “It’s a tremendous honor and experience being a head coach in the NFL,” Reich added. “You realize your job is to bring out the best in people and to create the right environment. It’s a massive job. But we have three really great coordinators who are good coaches and people. We also have a tremendous general manager (Chris Ballard). For a GM and a head coach to be on the same page, it makes the job a whole lot easier.”

 Reich’s tenure as a head coach got off to an inauspicious start last season when Indy opened its year 1-5. The Colts had gone 4-12 in 2017 and there wasn’t a lot of optimism outside of the organization.

 But partly because of Reich’s approach, Indianapolis turned things around, winning ten of its next 11 games, including a 21-7 triumph at Houston in an AFC wild card playoff game. The Colts’ season came to an end the following week in the AFC divisional round, with a 31-13 loss at Kansas City.

 “It’s both of those things,” said Reich. “We’ve been able to build off of last season. We know who we are and what we believe in. But it is a clean slate. You start the season 0-0 and you’ve got to prove yourself every day.

 “It (2018) was a tremendous year, in a lot of ways,” Reich continued. “We were 1-5 early, and we could’ve folded up shop and begun looking towards next year. But our players weren’t going to let that happen. I’m not surprised by the success we had because we had good people, good players and we did the right things the right way. What comes from that is confidence.”

 Given the responsibilities of being a head coach and the immense challenges the position presents, last season was like no other Reich had ever experienced in the NFL. But as he grew into the job, the Colts grew right along with him.

 “I enjoy it,” said Reich, who enjoyed a 14-year playing career as a quarterback. “The list of things I enjoy about it is long, but it starts with the people. I enjoy joining with people who are like-minded in the pursuit of a shared goal. I like being part of the game of football. I’m very passionate about the game of football. I love doing those things. It comes down to people and the process. When you enjoy those two things, you feel you have the greatest job in the world.

 “Because of the supporting cast, I don’t think any of it feels overwhelming,” added Reich. “But you still have got to find ways to be organized, so I can focus on what I was brought here to do. There’s always administrative things there. It’s easy to get spread thin, but you’ve got to learn how to stay focused.”

 One of Reich’s main emphasis as a head coach has been the evaluation of talent and matching it with his team’s needs. It’s a collaborative effort between himself and Ballard, but through that cooperation Indianapolis has built one of the most talented, most balanced and most formidable rosters in the NFL.

 “Chris does a great job on the personnel side of things,” said Reich of Ballard. “But our coaches work with his staff and the scouting staff. Chis is a very skilled and knowledgeable talent evaluator. But I feel the same on our side. I think there’s a lot of positives that come from our cooperative efforts.

 “I’m always in process,” continued Reich. “I’m always learning and growing. I enjoy the challenge of being a better leader, and the roles I play on offense, as a play caller and as a game planner. I’m constantly asking myself, ‘How can I challenge our players? How can I put them in better positions to succed?'”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Frank Reich’s Career Accomplishments

 
Indianapolis Colts
Position: Head coach
Personal information
Born: December 4, 1961 (age 57)
Freeport, New York
Height: 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight: 210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High school: Lebanon (PA) Cedar Crest
College: Maryland
NFL Draft: 1985 / Round: 3 / Pick: 57
Career history
As player:
As coach:
  • Indianapolis Colts (2008)
    Offensive coaching staff assistant
  • Indianapolis Colts (2009–2010)
    Quarterbacks coach
  • Indianapolis Colts (2011)
    Wide receivers coach
  • Arizona Cardinals (2012)
    Wide receivers coach
  • San Diego Chargers (2013)
    Quarterbacks coach
  • San Diego Chargers (2014–2015)
    Offensive coordinator
  • Philadelphia Eagles (2016–2017)
    Offensive coordinator
  • Indianapolis Colts (2018–present)
    Head coach
Career highlights and awards
As coach:

Career NFL statistics
TDINT: 40–36
Passing yards: 6,075
Passer rating: 72.9
 
Head coaching record
Regular season: 10–6 (.625)
Postseason: 1–1 (.500)
Career: 11–7 (.611)
 
 
 

 

 2019 Indianapolis Colts Schedule

 
         
         
         
         
         
Sunday
Sep. 8
at Los Angeles ChargersDignity Health Sports Park, Carson, CA 4:05pm ETCBS  
Sunday
Sep. 15
at Tennessee TitansNissan Stadium, Nashville, TN 1:00pm ETCBS  
Sunday
Sep. 22
Atlanta FalconsLucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN 1:00pm ETCBS  
Sunday
Sep. 29
Oakland RaidersLucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN 1:00pm ETCBS  
Sunday
Oct. 6
at Kansas City ChiefsArrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO 8:20pm ETNBC  
Sunday
Oct. 13
  BYE    
Sunday
Oct. 20
Houston TexansLucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN 1:00pm ETCBS  
Sunday
Oct. 27
Denver BroncosLucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN 4:25pm ETCBS  
Sunday
Nov. 3
at Pittsburgh SteelersHeinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA 1:00pm ETCBS  
Sunday
Nov. 10
Miami DolphinsLucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN 4:05pm ETCBS  
Sunday
Nov. 17
Jacksonville JaguarsLucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN 1:00pm ETCBS  
Thursday
Nov. 21
at Houston TexansNRG Stadium, Houston, TX 8:20pm ETFOX/NFLN  
Sunday
Dec. 1
Tennessee TitansLucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN 1:00pm ETCBS  
Sunday
Dec. 8
at Tampa Bay BuccaneersRaymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL 1:00pm ETCBS  
Monday
Dec. 16
at New Orleans SaintsMercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA 8:15pm ETESPN  
Sunday
Dec. 22
Carolina PanthersLucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN 1:00pm ETFOX  
Sunday
Dec. 29
at Jacksonville JaguarsTIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL 1:00pm ETCBS  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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