Frank Reich has never won fewer than seven games in a season as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. He has reached double-digits in wins twice in four seasons and posted a .569 win percentage too.
But NFL national writer Maurice Moton writes Reich is on the hot seat entering the 2022 season.
“One can argue Indianapolis has underachieved on Reich’s watch,” Moton wrote. “Though the Colts have started a different quarterback in all four of his campaigns, he had a major influence on the club’s move to trade for Carson Wentz, who went through some issues behind the scenes and fell flat late in the 2021 season.”
With Wentz as their starting quarterback last season, Reich led the Colts to a 9-8 record, but Indianapolis lost its final two games to miss the playoffs.
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Colts Upgrade Quarterback With Matt Ryan
Reich said in an interview with Tom Pelissero of NFL Network in an interview on March 27 that it “would be unfair to make Carson [Wentz] the scapegoat” for last year’s collapse. But right or wrong, that has what happened this offseason.
Colts owner Jim Irsay called acquiring Wentz last year “a mistake.”
“I think the worst thing you can do is have a mistake and try to keep living with it going forward,” Irsay said, via Colts Insider Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star on March 29. “For us, it was something we had to move away from as a franchise. It was very obvious.”
To correct that mistake (according to Irsay’s mind) the Colts traded a third-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons for Matt Ryan.
The 37-year-old quarterback hasn’t posted a winning season since 2017. But he is 120-102 as a starter in his NFL career and expectations are high in Indianapolis with him arriving behind center.
Circumstances will obviously dictate how Reich is judged this season. But if the Colts miss the postseason for a second straight season, Irsay probably won’t blame the quarterback for the second consecutive year.
“This offseason, the Colts acquired quarterback Matt Ryan as a potential upgrade, but if Indianapolis fails to clinch a postseason berth, team brass may look for a new head coach,” wrote Moton.
Playoffs or Bust for Colts?
Colts insider Joel A. Erickson of The Indianapolis Star reported that Irsay met with Reich and general manager Chris Ballard for a couple hours following the, 26-11, loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 18 of last season. Following the meeting, Reich stressed his understanding of the situation.
“Love his approach, how demanding he is,” Reich said on Jan. 10. “It was a good conversation, a supporting conversation, but also demanding and wanting answers, wanting to hold us accountable.”
It’s hard to say three months before the start of the regular season what Irsay will consider a satisfying season in 2022. However, Moton guesses that anything less than earning a playoff berth and winning a postseason game will be a disappointment for Indianapolis.
“The club hasn’t won a playoff game since 2018, and a fourth consecutive campaign without a postseason win could seal Reich’s fate,” wrote Moton.
After making the playoffs 14 times in 16 seasons with Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck at quarterback from 1999-2014, the Colts have been to the playoffs just twice in the last seven seasons.
They also have one postseason win since appearing in the AFC Championship Game in January 2015.