Frank Reich ended his tenure with the Indianapolis Colts after four and a half seasons as head coach. He won 40 regular season games, which is sixth-most in franchise history, and earned two playoff appearances.
But, as one would expect from a fired coach, Reich did not meet his goals, and his tenure ended abruptly in the middle of the 2022 season.
In his first interview since losing his job, Reich expressed the “disappointment and hurt” one would expect from any NFL coach fired in November. But he remained very professional and thankful for the opportunity.
“It hurts,” Reich told Colts insider Mike Chappell of FOX59/CBS4. “It hurts to have it happen in the middle of the season.
“But I understand the business side of things. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mr. Irsay, and I’ve come to trust his instincts and his knowledge of the game. I just know he’s doing what he thinks is best for the team.
“I can live with that. I gave my heart and soul to the job, to the guys, to everything I did there. I didn’t take anything for granted.’’
Irsay Fired Reich Over the Phone
In his interview with Chappell, Reich came across as a man who understands that just about every coach goes through getting fired eventually.
For most coaches, it’s multiple times. That’s true for Reich.
Although he wasn’t technically fired, he was part of the Colts’ coaching staff in 2011 that was entirely dismissed after the team went 2-14. He was also not retained as the Arizona Cardinals wide receivers coach in 2012 when they hired, ironically, former Colts interim head coach Bruce Arians.
Before winning the Super Bowl as offensive coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles, Reich also served as offensive coordinator for the then San Diego Chargers. The Chargers fire him following the 2015 season.
The Colts and Reich agreed to a contract extension through 2026 during the 2021 offseason. That gave Reich hope that he would be the longest tenured Colts head coach since Ted Marchibroda, who had two separate stints as Indianapolis head coach. With his long tenure, Reich also wanted to win Super Bowls.
But it wasn’t meant to be.
“The lifespan of a coach, sometimes you want it to be 10, 20 years. That doesn’t happen very often,’’ Reich said. “But that was my aim. My goal was to be here 10, 12 years and retire with a championship or two.
“But proud of what we did, probably as proud of the culture that Chris and I helped create. We knew the kind of players we wanted on the team, and that came to fruition that was very positive for the team and the community.’’
Reich also went on to call his time with the Colts “a great experience.”
Chappell reported Colts owner Jim Irsay fired Reich over the phone. Irsay was not available to meet face-to-face with Reich, but Chappell also reported the two are “expected to get together” in person within the next few weeks.
Former Reich Assistant Defends Fired Colts Coach
There’s been quite a lot of public reaction to the way Reich was fired, and the Colts’ decision to replace him with TV analyst Jeff Saturday. On November 9, the most notably reaction came from Reich’s former defensive coordinator and current Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus.
In summary, the Bears coach was not pleased to see the situation in Indianapolis.
“I don’t think I want to answer it,” Eberflus said when asked about his thoughts on the Colts hiring Saturday. “I will say that I was a little bit taken back by what happened there. Because obviously Frank’s a very good friend of mine.”
In addition to Eberflus, Reich’s former offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni is also a head coach for the Eagles.
What’s Next for Reich?
Reich told Chappell that for the foreseeable future, he is going to follow the advice of a couple of his life-long NFL colleagues and take time away from football. Reich plans to decompress with his wife, children and grandchildren.
But eventually, probably sooner rather than later, Reich will be back on the sideline. He’d like it to be as a head coach, but he didn’t rule out an offensive coordinator role.
“I think you keep all your options open,’’ he said. “Obviously my desire is to be a head coach. I love the game. I love everything about the game, so you keep all of your options open.’’
From 2016-21, Reich-led offenses finished in the top half of the league in points scored every year. He also led the Eagles or Colts to top half finishes in yards four of those six seasons.
The bottom fell out in 2022. This season, the Colts are last in points scored, 27th in offensive yards, 30th in rushing yards.
It will be interesting to see if Reich lands another head coaching job this offseason or joins the coaching staff of one of his former assistants perhaps in Chicago or Philadelphia. He could have multiple options when the offseason arrives.