REGGIE HAYES: Five takeaways from Frank Reich’s introduction as Indianapolis Colts coach

Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich, center, poses with owner Jim Irsay, left, and general manager Chris Ballard after he was introduced at the team's new had football coach during a press conference in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Frank Reich’s return to the Indianapolis Colts, this time as head coach, could easily be described as triumphant.

Reich began his coaching career on the bottom rung, as an intern, when Tony Dungy was coaching the Colts. He came full circle when he was introduced as the Colts coach Wednesday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Here are my top five takeaways from Reich’s introductory news conference as Colts coach:

1. Reich set down four characteristics he expects with the Colts. They aren’t revolutionary, but they are clear.

He promised the Colts would be 1) the toughest, physically and mentally, 2) the most disciplined; 3) the most prepared; and 4) the most united.

Reich spelled them out with confidence and conviction, and it’s reasonable to see how a team would by into them.

“Character matters, it matters a lot,” Reich said. “Every detail matters, being exhaustive in preparation. The way we win is just as important as why we’re going to win. Everything from top to bottom should be authentic. Tony (Dungy) and Jim Caldwell were the same person every day. To learn from those guys while I was here was an incredible experience.”

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2. Reich is not worried about being the second choice.

Reich was not originally on Colts general manager Chris Ballard’s list of potential coaches. But when New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels backed out after agreeing in principal, Reich was among the candidates brought in, in part due to recommendations from respected names such as Bill Polian and Dungy.

Reich isn’t focusing about how the interview, or the hire, came into being.

“The backup role has suited me well in my career,” Reich said when asked directly about being a second choice.

He expanded further: “I embrace it. That’s just part of the business. The ebbs and flows of it are exciting. If you can’t handle it, you should go do something else. …You have to be thankful for how things come together. Sometimes, that’s the best way for it to happen.”

3. Reich vowed to be creative and aggressive on offense.

The “run the ball, stop the run” philosophy of Chuck Pagano contributed in part to Pagano’s downfall as coach. He and his staff sometimes seemed reticent to embrace the singular talent of Andrew Luck and the passing game when Luck was healthy.

“We will be a multiple attack, uptempo offense, be aggressive, change things up,” Reich said.

He said his definition of multiple includes multiple formations with disguises designed to keep teams off balance. He also expects to have a “strong element” of no-huddle offense.

All of this should excite Colts fans, particularly if Luck is back.

4. Luck’s health is important, but it’s not a one-man team.

Reich said he has met Luck previously although he does not know him well. He said all he knows about Luck’s injury is what Ballard said in his news conference last week, and he is comfortable with that information.

“As great as (Luck) is, and I believe he’s the best, but this is a team game,” Reich said. “That’s the reason we all love this game. With the (Eagles), we lost our franchise quarterback and we still won the Super Bowl. It’s not built on any one player. He is magical. His traits and abilities I respect as much as anybody. But if we’re going to win a championship, and that’s the plan, it’ll be around surrounding the whole team.”

5. Reich takes pride in starting his career with the Colts.

Reich spent some time away from football after his playing career, becoming an ordained minister. But he said he also always planned to be a football coach, and a head NFL coach.

When he decided it was time, he called Polian and asked to join the staff any way he could, even “cleaning toilets.” He started as an intern and worked his way up to quarterbacks coach under Dungy and was a quarterbacks and receiver coach under Caldwell. Reich was fired with Caldwell’s staff when Caldwell was let go.

“I wouldn’t want to be any other place working with any other GM or owner to bring excitement and joy to the situation,” Reich said. “The pieces are in place to get us excited, one person at a time, one detail at a time.”

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Reggie Hayes at rhayes@news-sentinel.com.

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