It’s hardly surprising that in wake of a shocking Super Bowl loss for the Patriots, they still managed to steal the media spotlight. On February 6th, the Colts announced that they had officially hired the Patriots’ OC Josh McDaniels to be their next head coach, with a scheduled press conference the following day. Hours later, news broke that McDaniels had walked away from the deal, leaving several assistant coaches hired to work with McDaniels obliged to a new job without him.
Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft is reported to be a likely catalyst in McDaniels’ reneged deal. If it was a salary increase, the Patriots would have had to compete with the amount McDaniels planned to receive in Indianapolis while keeping him at the OC position. Some think Kraft used McDaniels as a pawn in a revenge-driven move spurred by the Deflategate scandal. However, others speculate that the possibility of Belichick’s imminent retirement inferred that McDaniels may stay in order to take his place.
The Colts responded with a statement that they were “surprised and disappointed” by McDaniels’ decision, but necessarily continued on with their coaching search. GM Chris Ballard said he did not anticipate the reneged deal, and did not attempt to conceal his dissatisfaction with what took place, adding “Just because you’re the first choice doesn’t make you the right choice.”
The Colts continued their search with Dan Campbell, assistant head coach of the Saints, Leslie Frazier, defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills, and Frank Reich, offensive coordinator at the Philadelphia Eagles. On February 11th, the Colts announced that Reich had been hired as the next head coach for the Colts, receiving a five year deal. Owner and CEO Jim Irsay praised Reich in a statement on Sunday, claiming that his “intelligence, innovation, character, organizational and leadership skills…stellar reputation…make him the perfect fit for [the Colts]”.
Reich is a former player who started at the University of Maryland, and was drafted in 1985 by the Buffalo Bills in the third round. Reich played for the Bills for 11 years, and also spent time with the Panthers, Jets and Lions. He was known for his consistency as a backup quarterback, providing relief several times for the Bills in the postseason, an intimate connection to Eagles’ Nick Foles that few others could offer.
Reich retired from playing in 1998. By 2008, he began his coaching career working for the Colts as an offensive assistant. He was picked up by the Eagles in early 2016. Reich now returns to where his coaching career started. The Colts had a 4-12 season in 2017 under Chuck Pagano, and Reich doesn’t have the easiest road ahead of him. The Colts struggled to execute in the second-half of nearly all of their games, blowing several first-half leads. All the while, they were playing under Jacoby Brissett, picked up from New England after Andrew Luck proved unable to perform this season. Still, Luck’s medical team claims that he is on the road to play next year. At 28, Luck has struggled to recover from a shoulder injury he received in 2015.
Chris Ballard is confident in his team and in his quarterback, adding that he “wouldn’t want anybody else” on the team, and that they “want [the] team to match what [Andrew Luck] has on the inside.” Ballard ended his statement last week adding that “the rivalry is back on” with New England before walking out of his press conference.