Frank Reich Combine Notebook: Andrew Luck Back To California For Offseason Work
Frank Reich Combine Notebook: Andrew Luck Back To California For Offseason Work
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INDIANAPOLIS – We’ve heard Chris Ballard make his stand on the importance of locker room culture.
But Wednesday saw Frank Reich open up about a very key topic when analyzing potential off-season moves for the Colts.
Besides that, Reich hit on several other things Wednesday, including the off-season plan for Andrew Luck.
Here are some takeaways from Reich meeting the media on Wednesday:
-The question was about why should Indianapolis be an ideal destination for free agents this offseason. As Frank Reich answered, the head coach stopped sounding like a member of the marketing department and was instead doing his best Chris Ballard impression. “…It’s the right kind of culture and that culture starts with the guys in that locker room,” Reich said. “It’s not open to just anybody. That locker room is not just open to any great player. You’ve got to be the right guy, you’ve got to be the right player, you’ve got to want to join the other players on this team on the mission that we are on to get up to the top of that mountain.” It was a rare diatribe of sorts by Reich where he seemed to go a bit out of his way to fully back the common theme we’ve heard from Ballard as of late. As if we needed any more belief, the Colts are ALL-IN on making sure their locker room is as close to right as possible before taking on a ‘risk’ in player/personality acquisition. Reich expanded on that topic below, in a video look from the head coach.
-The Reich media session at the Combine was the first time we’ve heard him talk about the firing of offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo. Before getting into how different the Colts blocking schemes will look this year, under new line coach Chris Strausser, here is what Reich had to say about firing Guge: “That was a tough deal, you guys know that was a tough deal,” Reich said. “I love Guge. And Guge is a really good football coach. I won’t rehash the whole thing other than to say, when you go into it to get a head coaching position, especially being an offensive coach, that was just a unique situation that I walked into. And I just really felt like, even though it was really hard to do, and even though in some regard you’re taking about a guy who did a phenomenal job with those guys in a lot of ways, it was just a move that I felt like in the long term that was going to be best to help us get where we want to go. I can’t get into all of it, but yeah, there were certain things in mind, no doubt certain things in mind that I just wanted to work through. Again, none of us are the perfect coach. You pick certain things you want to emphasize other than others, some guys are really strong here, and so on and so forth, so ultimately it was a tough decision, a really tough decision, but felt like that was what we had to do.” Reich then touched on the differences the Colts will have up front under their new leadership: “From a pass-protection standpoint, that’ll all be the same, the way we call, the words we use, everything will be the same. I know Chris and Howard have a few philosophical things that were different from Guge. Without getting into it, some guys talk about setting on a dish, some guys talk about vertical setting. And the best offensive line coaches are represented in both camps. Howard and Chris have some pretty strong views on what they believe in that, (which) would be a little bit slightly different in that area.”
-Wednesday was also the first time that Reich had talked to the media about the hiring of legendary assistant Howard Mudd. As Reich was calling for more information on new line coach candidate Chris Strausser, the head coach quickly realized that he wanted to bring Mudd on staff: “Having Howard back has been even better than I thought it was going to be,” Reich said on Wednesday. “I remember the first phone call to Howard and we were talking, I didn’t call with the thinking of this is what we were going to do. I was calling about something else and we ended up on the phone for an hour, an hour and a half talking football. I got off the phone and I was blown away. I was like, ‘He hasn’t changed. He is still as smart as he has ever been.’ I went over into Chris (Ballard's) office and I was like, ‘I think we need to do something here. I think we need to get Howard back here. This guy is incredible, he is a living legend, one of the best offensive line coaches ever.’ Now, just being back for the amount of time he has been back, sitting in offensive meetings with him as we are going through our own scheme, we have been doing our run game, so just evaluating our run game and what we did well, just to get his perspective has been very valuable. And to see him and Chris Strausser, they already had that relationship, a good friendship. I think it’s going to be pretty dynamic.”
-Like Andrew Luck mentioned during locker room cleanout, No. 12 is working with quarterback guru Tom House for a second straight offseason. Reich is a big fan of House after getting to know him much better last year. ‘Refining mechanics’ is the main goal for Luck heading into his 8th NFL season. “I love it, because I want to keep learning, too, and I find it's really dynamic,” Reich said of Luck working again with House. “Sit down with Tom and hear all his experience, and still be able to take my empirical evidence of what I've done and experienced. What I like best about Tom is he's a team player. He's a guy, as far as working with quarterbacks, he's at the top of the food chain, and his collaborative approach, his team approach, which obviously is what is important to us."
-Neither Reich nor Ballard have been too expansive on the definite need to upgrade the wide receiver position this offseason. Reich did have a pretty funny analogy though on Wednesday involving the need for another ‘dog’ at the receiver position. “When you talk about a No. 1 receiver, Nick Sirianni likes to use the term, ‘Is he a dog?’ What are the characteristics of a dog? The No. 1 characteristic is I can put him over there 1-on-1, it's 3rd-and-5, and I know we've got to throw a slant route or a stop route and he's going to win a high percentage of the time. At some point, I think that's really important to have that trait." Well, does that mean the Colts might act more than their words have previously stated about addressing that need with significant resources this offseason? Reich wouldn’t go that far, although he did add: "If you're a dog owner, you know that two dogs are always better than one."
-Reich and Chris Ballard fielded a few questions about running back Marlon Mack on Wednesday. When Reich was asked about Mack being a feature back moving forward, the head coach offered this: “Absolutely,” the head coach said. “Marlon had an incredible season. You look at the production he had in the games, not playing a full year. Came out the beginning of the year, was hurt. We just got so much better in the run game as the year went on. A lot of that was obviously started up front, but Marlon kind of hit a groove and was doing his thing. So we just look to continue to build that with Marlon.”
-At last year’s Combine, Reich had been head coach of the Colts for not even two weeks. The head coach laughed on Wednesday thinking about how much more ‘normal’ this Combine go-around is for him compared to last year. “And then with the whole Andrew situation, there was nothing normal” Reich said adding another layer of ‘normalcy’ that is now there. “It didn’t seem like there was anything normal about it last year. This year feels, it just feels very different, it feels very good. I just can’t even tell you how much I appreciate working with Chris and how much I learn from him. For me coming into that situation to work with someone like Chris, that was about as good as it could get for me and the relationship and the trust that we have built I think has been pretty special.”