Frank Reich Reiterates Major Run Game Focus Going Into 2019
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INDIANAPOLIS – You want to hear Frank Reich get a bit animated, ask him about his team’s rushing performance last season.
On paper, the run game wasn’t horrible in 2018, but Reich clearly wasn’t satisfied.
The Colts ranked 20th in rushing yards per game (107.4), 22nd in rushing yards per carry (4.21) and 17th in rushing attempts per game (25.5).
But Reich has that atop his list on things the Colts must improve in, especially when it comes to the offensive side of the ball.
“What I’ve expressed to Chris (Ballard) is if we are going to be a championship football team, we need to be able to run the football,” Reich said back at the Combine. “We need to be old school in that regard because when we can do that, our play-action game can be dynamic. We are making huge chunk plays down the field off the play action pass. And, yeah, oh by the way, when we can run it, all of a sudden we can become the best in the league in the red zone because we have that element to the offense.”
Reich doubled down on the ‘must improve run game’ stance at this week’s Owners Meetings in Arizona.
“We have to run the ball better than we did,” Reich said to reporters on Tuesday.
Given the continuity returning along the offensive line, and the team’s bullish stance on Marlon Mack as a feature runner, the Colts like the personnel already in place to see this improvement to occur.
New offensive line coach Chris Strausser and even Howard Mudd will definitely play a role in the Colts seeing their run game become more consistent, particularly earlier in games.
In the Divisional Round loss to the Chiefs, not only did the strong late season production of the Colts run game not show up, Reich also didn’t stay as committed to that part of the game early on. And that came against one of the league’s worst rushing defenses.
Seeing such a performance in the most important game of the season is another reason why Reich is so staunch in wanting to fix this issue.
Back at the Combine in February, Reich said he wants the Colts to become 'more boring in a sense' when it comes to the run game focus.
Such a comment might make those in the ‘all in on analytics’ world bang their heads against the wall.
Of course, as Reich knows, the run game improvement must first occur in the yards per carry department (aka the effectiveness) and not strictly the attempts.
“I do think there’s something about the mentality of the game that when you are physical up front and you can dominate the opponent up front, I just think it gives you a sense of confidence as a team,” Reich says.
“My expectations for the run game (in 2019) are really, really high.”