Frank Reich’s four-plus seasons as head coach in Indianapolis came to an end this week when he was fired. This expulsion came following a lackluster 26-3 loss to the New England Patriots, lowering them to 3-5-1 on the season. When asked about his resignation, Reich expressed “disappointment and hurt” with how things turned out.
It’s the third major shift in as many weeks for a struggling Indianapolis team that began the season with postseason ambitions but fell to 3-5-1 after a crushing loss to New England on Sunday. Reich was hired in 2018 after the Colts were turned down by then-Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. With a 10-6 record in his debut season, he promptly helped the Colts reach the playoffs. But Reich’s downfall was the revolving quarterback door, which began with Andrew Luck’s unexpected departure.
Why Did Irsay Sack, Frank Reich?
Reich is the second head coach in the NFL to be dismissed during the season, following Matt Rhule of the Carolina Panthers. Reich went 40-33-1 in the regular season and 1-2 in the playoffs throughout his tenure. Although Indy did field some respectable teams, the quarterback was the position that caused the most problems. Reich had a changed Week 1 starting quarterback in each of his five seasons, and the Colts were recently relying on veteran retreads to keep afloat. Reich made measures in the past two weeks to resurrect a floundering offense, benching Ryan in favor of sixth-round pick Ehlinger and ousting offensive coordinator Marcus Brady. Neither move was successful.
Owner Jim Irsay has never dismissed a head coach during the season, so his action here was particularly noteworthy. What motivated him to do it? The Colts were on an undeniable downward spiral, specifically on offense. While Reich has a proven track record of rallying his teams after a bad start, there was no sign that would repeat in 2022. In Sunday’s loss to the Patriots, the Colts had their lowest offensive production (121 yards), and Reich’s motivating techniques, which were once a specialty of his, have never been less efficient.
Reich has proven himself as an innovative offensive coach, helping the Philadelphia Eagles win the Super Bowl in 2017. However, despite having last season’s running champion in Jonathan Taylor and signing quarterback Matt Ryan in the offseason, the Colts’ offensive has been a catastrophe this season, finishing 27th in total yards per game. In addition to this, Reich cannot be held responsible for Andrew Luck’s move to retire just before Reich’s second season in 2019. But he had to know that action would have a significant impact on his time as head coach, and He didn’t realize to what degree at the moment. It ended up turning out that it defined most of his time in Indianapolis, with the Colts seeking their next play at the game’s most pivotal position every year.
Why Did Jeff Saturday Take The Job As Replacement Head Coach?
Reich’s job was regarded “secure” just over a week ago, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. In an unexpected turn of events, the Colts appointed veteran All-Pro offensive lineman Jeff Saturday as interim head coach on Monday. Saturday was a member of the Indianapolis Colts from 1999 to 2011 and has acted as a club consultant in recent years, according to the team. He has no coaching background in the NFL.
Ballard had a deep discussion with Saturday, who was working for ESPN, during last year’s draught meetings, and Ballard was highly impressed. According to a source, Ballard praised Saturday’s “crazy” intelligence and stated that he considered he had the ability to be an NFL head coach if he so sought. Did that sow the seed for Monday’s unexpected decision? That’s unknown, but it could indicate how Saturday was perceived within the business. We might also conclude that Irsay holds high regard for Saturday, a former Colts champion who is inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor and stays close to the team.
When earlier quarterback changes, from Ryan to Sam Ehlinger (ownership was also implicated in that decision), and offensive coordinator adjustments, with the firing of Marcus Brady, failed to produce better results, Irsay’s dissatisfaction was expected to worsen. He left the locker room following Sunday’s loss in silence, refusing to answer questions from the assembled media.
What Irsay witnessed on Sunday was a culmination of what the Colts have been going through since the finish of last season, when losses in Weeks 17 and 18 knocked them out of the playoffs despite being considered one of the most likely teams to qualify for the postseason. With Reich gone, the concern seems to be whether Ballard will be the one to choose the next coach or if Irsay would purge the whole front office.