Frank Reich Asked Chris Ballard To Pursue Devin Funchess In Free Agency
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INDIANAPOLIS – As Chris Ballard presented the free agency list to the Colts coaching staff, it was time to get to work.
The Colts knew they had/have a need at the wide receiver position, but it wasn’t a guarantee that the free agency market would offer the necessary solution in that area.
But once Frank Reich started looking closer at the tape of Devin Funchess, he had a message for his general manager:
“I watched Devin’s tape, and I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ I was like, ‘Please. Let’s get this guy,’ Reich said re-telling his thoughts to Ballard, while meeting with reporters at the NFL’s Annual Meetings earlier this week.
“That was the guy we really wanted to get.”
The affinity that Reich has for Funchess, who inked a 1-year deal with the Colts earlier this month, was made well-known this week.
Reich is adamant that he feels what the Colts have in place offensively (see below) can get Funchess to reach his potential.
“I’m so excited about Devin,” Reich said in Arizona. “When I watch his tape, what I see is a big man who is really athletic. I like to talk about having route-running skill, this combination of having good feet, good instincts and good body control, and then what sometimes we refer to as body quickness…it helps you separate at the top of routes, it helps you get off versus press coverage. And Devin has all of that. And he’s got really good feet.
“I remember watching his tape coming out of college thinking, ‘This guy is a monster physically, and look at his feet. Watch the way this guy runs routes.’ I remember watching him coming out of college thinking this guy could play in the slot, the way he runs routes. He’s a big man, so the catch radius is massive.”
Watching Funchess have a career-year in 2017 was something that resonated with Ballard.
In his third NFL season, the 6-4 and 225-pound Funchess recorded 63 catches for 840 yards and 8 touchdowns, easily career-highs in each category.
Ballard, while working in Kansas City at the time, noticed that, and the Colts GM now thinks Funchess plays faster than his 4.70 40-yard dash from the 2014 Combine.
“Everyone says he is slow, I disagree with that assessment,” Ballard says of Funchess. “He can bend.
“He’s been inconsistent catching the football. He knows that. And there’s things he needs to work on. But he’s 24 years old. He’s young. He’s got upside. We like the kid. We like the work ethic. We did a lot of research on him and we think we can help him get to where he wants to go and he can help us get to where we want to go."
Even though Reich hesitates in making direct player comparisons, the head coach throws out the name Alshon Jeffery (who stands 6-3 and weighs 218 pounds) when offering one up for Funchess.
The Colts would be quite pleased if Funchess gave them the same production that Jeffery did in 2017 with Reich, when the Eagles won the Super Bowl.
“He’s got to prove it and he has a long way to go, as well,” Reich cautions when continuing his gushing about Funchess. “There’s a lot to learn and learn a new system. But I was also just talking to him on the phone and I just really liked (him). It was just a couple conversations, but one of the things that I appreciated that I felt over the phone, and after you talk to as many guys as we’ve talked to you think you get a pretty good instinct, I really think this guy’s a team-first guy. Every receiver wants to catch a bunch of balls, but it was literally, ‘Whether I catch two balls or 10 balls, all I want to do is win.’
“I think it’s a really good fit.”
Frank Reich was elated watching Devin Funchess on film. Loved the fact a big, "physical monster" has the feet he does & runs routes like he does.
Turns out Funchess was absolutely OUTSTANDING (80% success) on the 2 routes Luck threw the most last year under Reich: curls & outs. pic.twitter.com/rC6qRgIZuR
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) March 28, 2019