Reich embraces role as Colts coach

Frank Reich did some of his most memorable work in relief.

 

He engineered the biggest comeback in NFL playoff history while pinch-hitting for Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. He orchestrated the second-largest comeback in college football history after spending three years as Boomer Esiason’s understudy. Heck, he even won a Super Bowl with a backup quarterback.

So when the Indiana­polis Colts offered Reich a chance to be their second choice as head coach, the super sub figured it was the perfect it.

“The backup role has suited me well in my career,” Reich joked Tuesday at his introductory news conference at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Reich inherits a team that went 4-12 in 2017, missed the playoffs for the third straight year and was desperately trying to remove an embarrassing stain following last week’s announcement that Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels would not take the Colts’ job.

This time, team owner Jim Irsay made sure the Colts weren’t caught off-guard again. Shortly after team officials confirmed the deal Sunday, the team posted a photo on Twitter of Reich signing a five-year deal at Irsay’s house.

As it turns out, the Colts may have gotten a better fit with Reich anyway.

While general manager Chris Ballard acknowledged making a mistake by not including Reich on his original short list, Irsay went even further after former team president Bill Polian, former coach Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning all called with glowing endorsements about Reich.

“The more I think about it, the more I think how could you be so stupid and not see the clarity of it sooner?” Irsay said.

But Reich sure didn’t make it easy for the Colts or anyone else conducting a coaching search, instructing his agent not to bother him with interview requests as he prepared for the playoffs.

The result of going “dark” during both postseason bye weeks: Reich won a Super Bowl as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator and got the dream job from a team that gave him his first coaching break in 2006 as an intern.

Indy is getting a coach who is nearly the opposite of Chuck Pagano, who was fired just hours after the Colts’ regular-season finale.

Pagano arrived with a defensive pedigree and often cited the Ravens’ playoff loss after the 2011 season for being the reason he got the job. While Pagano, a cancer survivor, said all the right things during his six-year tenure, his last three seasons were marred by penalties, mistakes, inconsistency and an inability to close out games.

Reich, in contrast, has been a position coach with Manning and Phillip Rivers as well as Larry Fitzgerald and Reggie Wayne. Plus, he was in charge of the offense that turned Carson Wentz into an MVP front-runner and Nick Foles into a Super Bowl MVP.

 

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