INDIANAPOLIS — Frank Reich is ready to embrace being the backup option again.
He spent the majority of his 14-year NFL playing career as a backup quarterback. And he’s the Indianapolis Colts‘ second choice for head coach after Josh McDaniels reneged on his agreement at the very last minute.
“The backup role has suited me well in my career,” Reich said as he drew a roomful of laughs during his introductory news conference at Lucas Oil Stadium on Tuesday.
Reich replaces Chuck Pagano, who was fired after six seasons, and McDaniels. The Colts announced that McDaniels had agreed to become coach of the Colts early on Feb. 6, only to have him call general manager Chris Ballard later that day to tell him he was remaining as offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots.
“We don’t always choose what happens to us, but what we get a chance to do is choose how we react to it,” Ballard said. “I really believe that’s what shows what we’re made of. I can’t be more proud of our organization, the city of Indy and how they’ve handled this last week. Can’t be any more proud of our new head coach Frank Reich.”
Ballard had Reich on his initial list of nearly 10 candidates back in December, but Reich didn’t make the general manager’s top-five list.
“I thought about it after I got done interviewing him. I go, ‘My Lord, what was I thinking?’ You talk to people,” Ballard said. “You make your list. You don’t panic.”
Having McDaniels back out of the job ended up helping Reich because he told his agent he wasn’t going to interview for any openings while Philadelphia was still in the playoffs. Reich wanted his focus to be strictly on getting the offensive game plan together so that the Eagles would be prepared for each playoff game. Ballard interviewed Reich on Feb. 9, the day after the Eagles had their Super Bowl celebration in Philadelphia.
“I want to first off acknowledge and thank the Philadelphia Eagles organization for allowing me to be part of a team and a journey that did something special for the Philadelphia Eagles,” Reich said. “But today is a new chapter. Today is a new chapter and I could not be more excited. … My first coaching job, first as an intern and eventually as a quality control coach and then as a quarterback coach to get my start. What better way to get started and there could not be a better way to finish it than right here in this great city.”
Reich spent the past two seasons as offensive coordinator of the Eagles. Philadelphia went from 22nd in offense during Reich’s first season to seventh this past season. The Eagles scored 41 points to beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII despite not having starting quarterback Carson Wentz, who tore his ACL on Dec. 10, 2017.
Reich began his coaching career in 2006, eight years after he retired from playing. He spent two seasons as a coaching intern under former Colts head coach Tony Dungy. Reich progressed to being an offensive staff assistant with coach Jim Caldwell in 2008. Then Reich was Peyton Manning’s quarterback coach from 2009-10 before coaching Reggie Wayne and the rest of the wide receivers in 2011. Reich was also offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach with the Chargers and receivers coach with the Arizona Cardinals.
Reich, who will call plays on offense for the Colts, is taking over an Indianapolis team that finished with a 4-12 record in 2017 and has missed the playoffs three straight years. The Colts will have the No. 3 overall pick in the draft and face the uncertainty of not knowing when quarterback Andrew Luck will return from the right shoulder injury that caused him to miss the entire 2017 season.
“One person at a time, one detail at a time, one player at a time and one game at a time,” Reich said. “As the head coach, the vision is simple and it’s clear, that every time we step on the field to compete, there will be four marks that will mark our team. The first one is that we will be the toughest … both mentally and physically. … Secondly, we will be the most disciplined team. … Thirdly, we’re going to be the most prepared team. … Fourth, we’re going to be the most united team. We’re going to be a close team. It’s going to be built around trust, respect and love.”
Can Colts stem the tide if Carson Wentz, Quenton Nelson miss games? – Indianapolis Colts Blog
WESTFIELD, Ind. – One of the Indianapolis Colts’ strongest attributes on either side of the ball is their offensive line, which is supposed to be a factor in helping quarterback Carson Wentz rebound from a disappointing 2020 season and help Indianapolis get back to the playoffs for the second straight season.
That’ll be tough to do when three of the five starting offensive linemen are out dealing with injuries, as is Wentz.
Wentz and guard Quenton Nelson joined center Ryan Kelly (elbow) and left tackle Eric Fisher (Achilles) out of action. Wentz and Nelson have basically the same foot injury that will keep them sidelined anywhere between five to 12 weeks.
There’s never a good time for injuries. And it’s really not a good time when four of the first five games are against teams that made the playoffs last season and with all five of those teams expected to push for a playoff spot this season.
Winning games over the Seahawks, Rams, Titans, Dolphins and Ravens would be tough with a healthy roster. It could end up being a brutal stretch for the Colts if those players aren’t back yet. And the reality is, there’s a chance they won’t be.
Kelly is out for a couple of weeks with his elbow injury, and there’s a chance Fisher will miss the start of the regular season while he continues to rehab from the torn Achilles he suffered last winter. The Colts, based off talks with medical officials, cast a broad net on the return timetable of Wentz and Nelson because all players recover differently.
“We were talking about it as a staff, we were talking about it individually — this is a great opportunity for our guys, for us to build depth on our team,” coach Frank Reich said. “We talk about it all the time, it’s the course of a season, so we have a good chance to evaluate all of those guys who can step in, and there is a handful of them. That’s what we’re in the process of doing, and we’ll be hopeful that [Nelson] will be back for Week 1. We don’t know, but that’s what our hope is.”
Per Caesars Sportsbook, the odds for the Colts to win the Super Bowl (25-1, 35-1), AFC (13-1, 16-1) and AFC South (-110, +170) all fell following the announcement of Wentz’s prognosis by Reich on Monday afternoon.
A lot can change over the next five weeks before the Colts host Seattle in Week 1. The Colts haven’t opened the season with a victory since 2013. But playing worst-case scenario, if Wentz, Nelson and Fisher are still out at the start of the season, the Colts potentially could struggle running the ball without their starting left guard and left tackle, and their quarterback to keep the defense honest with his arm.
The Colts’ defensive line has been having its way against the beat-up offensive line in recent days in training camp. Imagine what Seattle and Tennessee coaches Pete Carroll and Mike Vrabel can scheme to do against the Colts. Or the havoc Rams All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald is going to cause up the middle. And to make matters worse, three of the first five games are on the road for the Colts.
The Colts may need to lean more heavily on Matt Eberflus’ defense — which ranked eighth in yards allowed last season and second against the run — to keep them in games until those key players return.
Reich keeps a narrow thought process on what lies ahead. That’s why he had a long post-practice talk with his team, where he spoke with a lot of passion. The Colts started the 2018 season 1-5 and finished with a 10-6 record and a spot in the playoffs.
“I’ve been a part of some really great teams who lost great players, and it takes all of us and you to overcome it as a team, and I believe whatever card we’re dealt; however it plays out, we’ll be just fine,” Reich said.
Philip Rivers says he’s ‘staying ready,’ won’t close door on possible NFL return
Months after he announced his retirement from the NFL, former quarterback Philip Rivers says he isn’t ruling out a return.
Rivers, who retired in January after one season with the Indianapolis Colts following 16 with the San Diego and Los Angeles Chargers, told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that he is staying in shape in case a situation presents itself for a late-season stint in the NFL.
“I’m not quite there,” Rivers, 39, told the LA Times. “I’m getting back there. I wouldn’t have made weight if I had to report last week, that’s for sure. But I am getting back into the lifting and running, and shoot, I occasionally throw a ball around out here in this heat. It’s not too hard to get a good lather going.
“I’m just going to stay ready. I want to make sure I’m very clear: I’m not predicting I will play in December or January, for that matter. One, you’ve got to have somebody who wants you, and two, it’s got to be right.
“But I have not completely ruled that out.”
Rivers, a five-time Pro Bowler who ranks fifth in NFL history with 63,440 passing yards, led the Colts to the playoffs last season, throwing for 4,169 yards and 24 touchdowns. Indianapolis lost to Buffalo in an AFC wild-card game.
The Colts announced Monday that quarterback Carson Wentz will have surgery on his injured left foot and be out five to 12 weeks.
Rivers currently is in his first year as head football coach of St. Michael Catholic High School in Alabama. According to maxpreps.com, the team’s final regular-season game is scheduled for Oct. 29, two days before the Colts’ Week 8 home game against the Tennessee Titans.
Minnesota Vikings co-owner Mark Wilf is concerned over players’ vaccine hesitancy; three QBs on the COVID-19 reserve list
EAGAN, Minn. — While the Minnesota Vikings continue navigating a recent COVID-19 interruption within the quarterback room, team co-owner Mark Wilf expressed concern over vaccine hesitancy among players.
“We’re very concerned,” Wilf said. “I think it’s safe to say that our No. 1 priority is the health and safety of our players, our coaches, our staff and, ultimately, the entire community. From that standpoint, we really are encouraging people to take the vaccines, to get vaccinated.
“We’re proud of the fact that we’ve partnered with the State of Minnesota to have our facility here used as a vaccination center in the offseason. We just want everybody to follow the protocols. We’re trying to educate everyone in the organization, the team, to make sure and get the vaccinations. Of course with the delta variant and other new permutations going on, we just want to make sure to preserve the health and safety. That’s the standpoint that we come from as ownership and as an organization.”
The Vikings are without quarterbacks Kellen Mond, who tested positive for COVID-19 last weekend, Kirk Cousins and Nate Stanley — the latter two were deemed high-risk close contacts and required to self-isolate for a minimum of five days. All three QBs and wide receiver Myron Mitchell were placed on the COVID-19/reserve list.
According to the NFL/NFLPA protocols, a player with the “high-risk close contact” classification designates that they are not vaccinated. Coach Mike Zimmer has been outspoken about his frustration with players who are refusing to get vaccinated and foreshadowed the stark reality the Vikings are “going to have guys miss some games, and we have to be prepared for it.”
“I talked to the team and, like I said before, there are quite a few guys that are just against it,” Zimmer said on Monday. “I’m not going to be able to change their mind, so, it’s like half the country, I guess.”
The Vikings’ vaccine hesitancy is reflected in vaccination efforts leaguewide. According to a report from The Washington Post, the Vikings have the lowest vaccination rate in the NFL, with 64.5% of players fully vaccinated and 70% in process (with at least one shot). The Washington Football Team has dealt with similar interruptions during training camp, with six players currently on the COVID-19/reserve list, but saw its vaccination rate escalate 24% in one week from 60% to 84% of its players being at least partially vaccinated, according to the report.
The NFL announced Tuesday that 90% of players across the league are either fully vaccinated or have had at least one shot. Nine teams are above 95%, and 27 teams have reached the 85% threshold.
The competitive advantage that teams with higher vaccination rates could have this season is not lost on Vikings players, coaches and ownership. On his All Things Covered podcast, cornerback Patrick Peterson noted the importance of getting vaccinated so he doesn’t put himself at risk of missing games thanks to COVID-19 protocols.
“I feel like I’m too important to this team not to get vaccinated, not miss an important game and now we possibly lose that game, and that could be the game that we needed to get into the playoffs,” Peterson said.
Wilf noted the potential for low vaccination rates to lead to a competitive disadvantage and praised Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman for the way they’ve approached the situation in Minnesota.
“The competitive side is of course concerning but, again, our focus is on health and safety,” Wilf said. “We care about the players and the team and, from that standpoint, they happen to be aligned. But the fact is, we’re encouraging vaccinations. We’re talking about a serious health pandemic, and it’s something we want to make sure that our players, our staff, our coaches, that they’re fully informed of what’s involved here. From that standpoint, I think the way Coach Zimmer and Rick Spielman and the entire football team has handled this is the right way — in terms of making sure we provide the resources, as ownership, that everyone is educated and has the opportunity to understand all the facts.”
Zimmer said Monday that he did not know when Mond, Cousins or Stanley would be available to return. Because Mond tested positive, his return is subject to different protocols.
According to NFL/NFLPA guidelines, a player on the COVID-19/reserve list who tests positive and is asymptomatic can return to practice 10 days after showing symptoms, or five days after initially testing positive, with two consecutive negative tests separated by 24 hours within a five-day period. Symptomatic players can return 10 days after first testing positive and at least 72 hours after their last symptoms occurred.
“It is a tough circumstance for [Mond],” offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak said. “We’ll make the best of it, keep challenging him in our virtual meetings. He’s done a great job with that, staying prepared. Mainly, I just want to make sure he’s OK. He’s got COVID — he’s sick. We’ve got to get him healthy first. But when he gets back, we’ll get him back physically. In the meantime, we can stress him mentally and make it hard for him so that it’s just all physical when he gets back.”
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