KRAVITZ: Colts don't get what they want, but in the end, did they get what they need in Reich?

Frank Reich speaks at his introductory press conference on Tuesday, February 13, 2018.
Bob Kravitz

"You can't always get what you want,
But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need." – The Rolling Stones

Maybe the Colts are telling themselves what they want to hear. Maybe they're telling themselves a noble fiction that Frank Reich is, and was all along, the very best man for this Indianapolis Colts job. If you're Jim Irsay and Chris Ballard, what else are you going to tell yourself? Yeah, well, he's a consolation prize, but we'll do the best we can…


They're approaching this the way they have to approach it, insisting, as the Stones did, that while they couldn't get what they wanted, they may have gotten what they needed – even if it happened in the goofiest way possible. Call it serendipity. Call it a happy accident. But if Reich can restore this team to its former glory of the 2000s, this crazy week will be viewed as proof that things happen the way they're supposed to happen. As another musical icon, Bruce Springsteen, once sang, "Someday we'll look back on this and it will all seem funny."

That's the hope, anyway.

There's no way of knowing how many games Reich will win – Andrew Luck will have a whole lot to say about that – but understand, he won the press conference. He was funny, humble and commanded the room. He even survived the best question of the day, this from Barstool Heartland cub reporter Pat McAfee, who asked, "Do you hate or love Josh McDaniels for what happened?"

Reich smiled, collected himself and answered.

"The backup role has suited me well in my career," he said.

Perfect answer, delivered perfectly.

Let's not con anybody; Reich was not high on the Colts' initial wish list. Ballard, who could have fibbed – and I'll explain why shortly – said Reich wasn't among his top five head coaching candidates. Now, Reich wouldn't have interviewed, even during the Eagles' bye week, because he told his agent he wanted to "go dark" and focus completely on the Eagles' playoff run. No interviews, no nothing. "He's not a self-promoting guy," his former Buffalo head coach, Marv Levy, was telling me the other day.

Armed with that knowledge, Ballard easily could have said, "Yeah, he was in the running all along, but we couldn't get an interview because he wouldn't talk to anybody," but, to his great credit, the Colts' GM chose to be honest.

But after interviewing Reich, and hearing from so many luminaries like Marv Levy, Bill Polian, Tony Dungy and others, Ballard, along with Irsay, were sold.

"I got done interviewing him," Ballard said, "and I thought, 'Lord, what was I thinking (in not having him higher on the priority list)?"

Irsay had the same takeaway after interviewing Reich for several hours Friday: "He is such a perfect fit for us…I know you think that's natural for me to say, but the more I think about it, I ask myself, 'Jim, why are you so stupid? How could you not have seen the clarity of this sooner?'" he said. "But I can't say enough good things about Frank."

Reich said a number of things of note, but two statements struck me, one that gave me hope and one that gave me pause.

The hopeful statement was this: "There will be a strong element of no-huddle in (our) offense."

How many years have we been screaming for the Colts to put Luck in the no-huddle offense? Can you imagine him in the kind of K-Gun offense the Buffalo Bills rode to four Super Bowl appearances? Unstoppable.

The statement that gave me some pause was this: "I'll call the plays."

Reich has never been a head coach before and didn't call the plays in Philadelphia, although he's got play-calling experience and has a deep reservoir of offensive football knowledge. He is taking on a massive undertaking as a head coach – again, his first head-coaching gig – so I wonder if he'll be able to manage the game while running the offense. Granted, Doug Pederson did exactly the same thing in Philly and won a Super Bowl his second year, but again, that strikes me as unnecessarily ambitious for a first-time guy.

I also remain queasy about the fact the Colts continue to employ three assistant coaches who came here to work with McDaniels and are not of Reich's choosing. From an ethical standpoint, the Colts are doing the right thing by not only making good on their contracts, but by using them in the positions for which they were hired. Nothing against those gentlemen, who may very well be terrific assistant coaches, but this could get awkward. Head coaches should get their guys. Instead, Reich is adopting three assistants.

We will see.

Levy, for one, thinks this is a grand-slam homerun for the Colts, even reaching out to Irsay and Ballard last week to extol Reich's virtues.

"He was the ultimate teammate, and it was so much more than just what he did on the playing field," Levy said. "It's his ability to work with others and to be an example of what a good citizen should be, and to prepare even though most of the time, he wasn't going to play…I just felt so strongly about him. They (the Colts) got the right guy, I believe."

This will be a new-look Colts team with a new head coach, a new staff and what's expected to be a massive personnel turnover. It will also be an entirely new style of defense, the Colts moving to a 4-3 alignment.

"I think it fits," Ballard said of the 4-3. "We had a lot of success with it in Chicago and fell in love with the defense, we know how to scout it, y'all have played it here before and it fits the indoors surface. It fits what the league is going to now. We have athletic quarterbacks in our division, so you have to have athletic players with speed to chase those guys down."

Thus ends one of the most challenging weeks in Colts history, starting with the tragic deaths of Edwin Jackson and another man by a suspected drunk driver. Then they were blind-sided by the McDaniels news. Then another round of interviews. This, though, feels like a fresh beginning, and if Irsay and Ballard are right, the old backup will bring them back from a 35-3 deficit and lead them to victory, just like he did that day in Buffalo.

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