One-Year Anniversary Of Colts Hiring Frank Reich As Head Coach
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INDIANAPOLIS – When Bill Polian landed in Connecticut on a Tuesday night around this time last year, his phone was blowing up.
Everyone had questions for Polian on the surprising news that had just rocked the NFL world.
Once Polian found out that Josh McDaniels had turned his back on the Colts, it was time to make a call to Owner Jim Irsay.
Polian wanted to recommend Frank Reich for the new opening in Indy. Irsay told Polian to go ahead and call general manager Chris Ballard. Recommendations from Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning followed.
It was quite the list of references on the resume that Reich was about to be asked to show the Indianapolis Colts.
Some 48 hours before McDaniels made the infamous call to Ballard and the Colts, Reich had just helped the Eagles to a win over the Patriots, in Super Bowl LII.
Once the McDaniels news hit the NFL world on that Tuesday night, Reich, who elected to bypass any possible interviews during the playoffs to focus on the Eagles’ championship run, wasn’t going to campaign too hard for himself.
“When the announcement came off that Josh was not taking the job, I did not call my agent, I did not text my agent, I did not say, ‘How are we going to get an interview?’” Reich later said about the craziness surrounding McDaniels.
“Our work speaks for itself. I hope they call us. I really do. If not, we’re just going to get back to work.”
That call eventually came from Ballard.
A 10-hour interview on Friday of that week between Reich and Ballard had the Colts GM shaking his head.
“I thought after I got done interviewing him, ‘My lord, what was I thinking?’” Ballard later admitted.
Even Irsay acknowledged the Colts initially whiffed on not looking into Reich.
“The more I think, ‘Jim, How come you are so stupid? How could you not have seen the clarity in this sooner,’” Irsay said after Reich’s introductory press conference.
Despite not being on Ballard’s original top-5 (ish) list of coaching candidates, Reich blew him away in the interview.
Once other interviews with Dan Campbell (Saints) on Thursday and Leslie Frazier (Bills) on Saturday wrapped up, the Colts knew.
“Our vision matched in terms of our people, our process, how we wanted to play the game both offensively and defensively,” Ballard said of Reich. “That’s hard to find.”
When Reich inked his contract with the Colts that Sunday evening, Irsay had a plea, that sounded more like a fan.
“Frank, help us bring the joy back into the city of Indianapolis,” Irsay told him. “For the great traditions we have here, all the games we’ve won, let’s bring that back again."
In his playing career, Reich had been asked to fill-in before under unforeseen circumstances.
He was being called to do it again.
“That’s what we’re here for, and we’ll do it,” Reich said of Irsay’s wish after being hired. “One person at a time, one detail at a time, one player at a time and one player at a time.”
Some 6 weeks after firing Chuck Pagano, the Indianapolis Colts finally had (officially) found their new head coach.
A year later, the Colts have a coach who was a deserving candidate for Head Coach of the Year consideration.
And Ballard is one grateful individual.
“I can’t say enough about Frank Reich, the job he did,” Ballard said after the Colts went 10-6 and won a road playoff game this past season. "He’s just got a level of maturity that’s not only great for the organization, I think it’s great for the city, it’s great for me personally. His experience as a player, his experience coaching in different organization that he’s been a part of, he’s able to recall situations that he’s been in, teams that he’s been on, he provides great leadership for our entire organization. Feel very fortunate to have Frank.
“Sometimes God does things for you that you don’t deserve, and I feel very fortunate that Frank’s our coach.”