Frank Reich will always have a place in Philadelphia thanks to his part in leading the Eagles to a victory in Super Bowl LII. His offensive schemes matched with Doug Pederson’s play calling seamed together perfectly, resulting in a stellar year for several players.
Perhaps that’s why it was so hard to watch Reich’s downfall in Indianapolis, which ended Monday when the 60-year-old head coach was fired following a 3-5-1 start.
While Reich’s 40-33-1 record and two playoff appearances demonstrate he’s a more than capable head coach, the Colts had just a single postseason win total to their name in that time, and double the disappointing finishes.
Certainly, you can argue Reich got the short end of the stick. He never had a viable, long-term quarterback to manage, going from backups like Jimmy Brissett to players at the end of their careers in Philip Rivers and Matt Ryan.
Of course, some of that is his fault – and that’s where the Eagles come in. Yes, as odd and ironic as it may be, Philadelphia played a substantial role in Reich’s downfall – just as some might argue he cut the Eagles’ potential dynasty short.
The Eagles Traded Carson Wentz To Indianapolis
Carson Wentz’s time in Philadelphia after 2020 had clearly run its course. With a new head coach in tow for the Birds (we’ll get to that later), it was time to find a new home for the star-fallen QB.
Low and behold, a reunion was begging to happen between Wentz and Reich, who had just lost Rivers to retirement.
Reich lobbied to owner Jim Irsay to get his former slinger, promising (now hilarious in hindsight) visions of a fixed Wentz. Wentz obviously wanted to play for both a contender and under a former coach where he had success.
The Eagles made this reconnection happen – and it likely sealed the fate of Reich. Wentz’s stats were fine – he threw for 27 touchdowns (matching his career-high) against just seven interceptions. But the fundamentals continued to be broken.
Wentz’s bizarre quirks in his play style from Philadelphia remained, as did whispers of his critical lack of leadership and selfishness in the locker room.
When the Colts lost to the 2-14 Jaguars in Week 18 of 2021, capping off a losing streak that took them from 9-6 to 9-8 and resulting in a playoff miss, those rumors once again become all the more plausible.
The Eagles also contributed to that ill-fated 2021 season in a different way – nabbing a now up-and-coming head coach who’s currently leading an undefeated team.
The Eagles Nabbed Nick Sirianni From Reich’s Staff
It’s weird how many parallels you can find between Pederson’s time in Philadelphia and Reich’s time in Indy.
Reich was hired by the Colts after their deal with Josh McDaniels fell through, and Pederson lost a bit of magic that day. The team fell from 457 total points in 2017 (28.6 points per game) to 367 total points in 2018 (22.9 points per game).
Wentz struggled after coming back from his ACL tear, while the team couldn’t find a suitable replacement for Reich. Mike Groh didn’t show anything particularly special, while Pederson’s love for Press Taylor outweighed Taylor’s actual contributions to the team.
When Sirianni departed from the Colts in 2021, this scenario was once again set in motion. Like him and Pederson, Reich and Sirianni were close, not only with their friendship, but with their strategic and precise game-planning.
My understanding of Nick Sirianni is that he has a huge backer in Indy HC Frank Reich. Yes, Reich calls the plays but Siranni was instrumental in game planning/play design and was obviously a part of the game day operation. Said to be an even-keeled dude. #Eagles @nflnetwork
— Mike Giardi (@MikeGiardi) January 21, 2021
“It’s a two-way street. We taught each other a lot. We grinded through. We put a lot of hours into developing passing games, game plans, play-action, RPOs, evaluating players, systems, how are we going to make the most out of players?” Reich told JAKIB Media Sports back in March.
Just like the 2017 to 2018 Eagles, the 2020 to 2021 Colts experienced a hefty drop off, going from ninth and 16th overall in points scored and total yards, respectively, to 32nd and 27th. The team’s offensive simple rating system also decreased from 3.3 to -6.8.
For Now, Eagles Should Be Grateful For A Solid Staff
That lack of a HC/OC balance can be a sneaky – and ultimately deadly – detriment to many playoff-hopeful teams and coaches, and it should certainly give fans of teams like the Eagles a sense of thankfulness for the stability currently in place.
For Reich, it’s unlikely he’s seen the last game as a head coach. Plenty of coaches will be on the outs in a couple months, and Reich could resurface then.
But, one has to wonder how it would’ve all played out in Indianapolis if it wasn’t for Philadelphia.