The Indianapolis Colts 2022 season starts this week and many will have their eyes on Head Coach Frank Reich. After four seasons and no AFC South title, is it time to place him on the hot seat?
Colts Head Coach Frank Reich is considered by many a top coach in the league and an “offensive genius”. ESPN even ranked the Colts as the fourteenth best team in the 2022 preseason rankings. By all accounts, Reich is also giving a masterclass on adjusting to the changing team landscape that has included a staggering five quarterbacks in five seasons. So, why is Reich’s seat getting warm?
A Peak Under The Hood
In four seasons, Reich has gained a record of 37-28 (a .569 win percentage) and has taken the Colts to the playoffs twice. However, the Colts have yet to bring an AFC South title home, under his leadership, in what is arguably one of the weakest divisions in the league. It begins with incredibly slow starts to the season, especially in Week One.
Whether it was starting 1-5 in 2018 or 1-4 in the 2021 season (after losing three straight), the team is often struggling to get out the gates fast. Add in the team’s inability to also keep established leads and Reich’s track record is not great. The team lost three double digit leads to Tennessee, Tampa Bay and Baltimore just last season alone.
The lack of a pass rush is also an eyesore for what appears to be a very talented roster. They ranked twenty-fourth in the league last season in team pass rush win rate at just thirty-six percent. You can also find the team at the bottom of the league regarding total pressures with just 120. Some of this could be placed on the shoulders of General Manager Chris Ballard, but it certainly doesn’t help Reich’s case.
From Wentz He Came
Of course, Reich is inevitably going to be associated with Quarterback Carson Wentz for the duration of his tenure. Wentz and Reich spent time together in Philadelphia and it made sense for the Quarterback to land in Indianapolis for a chance to be the face of the franchise. However, expectations were high (Wentz had a conditional second round draft pick and $25.4 salary cap hit tied to him) and the team needed to stop the carousel of Quarterbacks coming in.
Reich gambled on Wentz, assuring leadership he could resurrect Wentz’s career to the caliber in was in years past. Ultimately, it became a failed experiment. The 2021 season ended with the Colts having an underwhelming record of 9-8, trading Wentz to the Washington Commanders, and Reich apologizing to Owner Jim Irsay. The team brought in Quarterback Matt Ryan a short time later to lead the charge.
Demanding Excellence For The Colts Starts At The Top
As you can imagine, Owner Jim Irsay was not pleased with the end result of last season. He said as much in a stunning video after the inexplicable lost to the 2-14 Jaguars. Irsay opened up about pain and disappointment and mentioned letting doubt, fear, and a lack of faith into the team’s DNA.
Perhaps the most telling moment was a mention of “all chips in”, a subtle, but powerful statement that echoed the brutal conversation he’d had with Reich just hours before. It’s been seven months since that moment and Irsay is still fired up. During training camp in August, he again made his expectations clear: the Colts must win the division and more. Anything else is unacceptable.
Reich will have to do some soul searching this season to prove the investment in his expertise is worth it. The mountain climb begins again. Will he finally make it to the peak?