Does another cold start mean a hot seat for head coach Frank Reich?
It’s no secret that Frank Reich needs to start hot with the Indianapolis Colts this season. One of the biggest storylines of Reich’s career in Indianapolis is his notorious “slow starts.” Let’s look into his coaching of the Colts and gauge our expectations of what could be Reich’s last team in Indy.
Frank Reich: The Coach
Reich cemented his legacy as a play-caller in Philadelphia, winning a Superbowl with Nick Foles at quarterback for the Eagles. Reich hasn’t lived up to the hype in Indianapolis; only winning one playoff game in four years. This is pitiful.
Yeah, he made the playoffs with Phillip Rivers at quarterback, but that was before the Carson Wentz catastrophe. After last season, Reich’s seat should be far past the pre-heat cycle. Reich gave his word Wentz would be back to MVP form for the Colts, and instead, we were left as the laughingstock of the league after losing in Clown Town, USA, causing the Colts to miss the playoffs. Compiling with last season another slow start could turn the heat up.
Frank Reich: The Slow Starter?
About those “slow starts” we love to mention…has he been that bad at the start of the season? Of course, the Colts haven’t won a season opener in years, but that pre-dates Frank Reich. In fact, when having a more pocket-passing-orientated quarterback, Reich tends to start the season well. In the first eight weeks of each season, Reich has only struggled with Carson Wentz and Andrew Luck; Luck being talented enough to figure things out and bring Reich his only playoff win with the Colts.
With Luck and Wentz under center, Reich went 3-5 in the first eight weeks of the season. However, with Jacoby Brissett and Phillip Rivers, he had a record of 5-3. Having five divisional games in the first eight weeks of the season makes it crucial for Reich to repeat his success with Rivers and Brissett early and Chris Ballard, Colts GM, may have found just the guy to help.
A New Sheriff In Town
This offseason Ballard dumped Wentz on the Washington Commanders and brought in former Falcons quarterback, Matt Ryan.
The past couple of seasons the Colts have brought in downtrodden quarterbacks on their last leg and Ryan is no different. Wentz and Rivers were coming off of career lows with the former team before coming to Indy, where Frank Reich squeezed the last bit of juice out of them that he could. Reich improved these quarterbacks’ decision-making and accuracy while in Indy and with Matt Ryan expect no different.
Wentz improved his accuracy from 70.4% on-target percentage in 2020 to 73.7% in 2021 and a bad throw percentage of 21.7% to 18.8%. This was a similar rate of improvement to Rivers’ “on-target” going from 76.7% to 77.2%, but taking a slight dip in bad throws, most likely due to his arm not being what it used to be.
However, Matt Ryan is walking into Lucas Oil Stadium sporting a 78.1% on-target percentage and a 14.5% bad throw rating. Ryan is by far the most accurate and decisive player of these three, and if history repeats itself, we can expect him to improve upon this.
With Matt Ryan being the best quarterback the Colts have had since Andrew Luck and being a pocket passer, we can expect big things. Ryan is undisputedly the best pocket-passer Reich has had and given that Reich wins with this style of quarterback much more consistently, I firmly believe the Colts can start 6-2, possibly even better depending on how the Broncos and Chiefs play. If this is how it goes, Frank Reich can breathe a sigh of relief as his seat goes from warm to as cold as Matty Ice.