Eagles OC and former Terp Frank Reich hired as coach of Colts

From Sun news services

Last week, the Indianapolis Colts were spurned by the Super Bowl-losing offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels of the New England Patriots, who backed out of an agreement in principle to become the team’s coach.

So on Sunday, the Colts announced that their next coach would be the Super Bowl-winning offensive coordinator: Frank Reich of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Reich, a former Maryland quarterback, will be formally introduced at a news conference Tuesday.

“Frank is a leader of men who will demand excellence from our players on and off the field,” general manager Chris Ballard said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Frank to deliver a championship-caliber team to the city of Indianapolis.”

Reich, 56, agreed to a five-year deal, a source informed of the talks between the sides told NFL.com, which first reported the hiring.

He emerged as the favorite for the job after meeting with Ballard on Friday. The Colts also interviewed New Orleans Saints assistant head coach-tight ends Dan Campbell and Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.

Maryland interviewed Reich in the fall of 2015 for the head coaching job that eventually went to DJ Durkin.

Reich played for the Terps in the early 1980s, three seasons as a backup to future NFL standout Boomer Esiason before becoming a starter. On Nov. 10, 1984, Reich came off the bench to rally Maryland from a 31-0 deficit against Miami to a 42-40 victory in what was then the biggest comeback in NCAA history.

He played in the NFL for the Bills, who drafted him in the third round in 1985, Carolina Panthers, New York Jets and Detroit Lions through 1998, mostly as a backup.

Indiananpolis’ announcement ends a search that spanned 41 days and included the embarrassment of McDaniels changing his mind Tuesday night just eight hours after telling the Colts he'd take the job.

On Wednesday, Ballard answered questions for nearly 20 minutes before finishing with “the rivalry is back on.”

By hiring Reich, another touted offensive coordinator and a potential leading candidate next season, only added another chapter to the long and bitter series.

Exactly one week after backup quarterback Nick Foles executed an exquisite game plan to beat Tom Brady and the favored Patriots, 41-33, the Colts brought back a longtime assistant who spent two seasons working with Peyton Manning.

But this wasn't just about sending a message.

“Frank has all the ingredients of a successful head coach: intelligence, innovation, character, organizational and leadership skills, and a commanding presence,” team owner Jim Irsay said. “He also has a stellar reputation, and his myriad of life experiences and the people he has worked with make him the perfect fit for us and our fans. I feel extremely fortunate and could not be more excited for Colts Nation and the future of our franchise.”

It sure didn't take long to make the decision.

Ballard interviewed Reich on Friday, the day after Philadelphia held its victory celebration.

He replaces former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, who was fired hours after finishing the season with a 4-12 record and missing the playoffs for the third consecutive year.

Reich takes over a franchise that appears to have some key pieces in place — especially if quarterback Andrew Luck is healthy.

Luck missed the entire 2017 season after having surgery for a partially torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. He went on injured reserve in November because of lingering pain in his right shoulder after he had started throwing a football.

On Wednesday, Ballard said Luck hasn't thrown a football since October.

“He's going to do everything right to get himself ready to play and I'm very confident, he's very confident, that he's going to come back and prove a lot of people wrong,” Ballard said.

The Colts also have a defense that showed steady improvement throughout the season, the No. 3 overall draft pick in April, nearly $80 million to spend in free agency and a promising backup quarterback in Jacoby Brissett, who started 15 games in 2017.

And the Colts already have three assistants on Reich's staff — probable defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, Mike Phair and Dave DeGuglielmo. All three agreed to join McDaniels' staff in Indianapolis and have been promised by Ballard that they will remain on the staff.

Reich, meanwhile, returns to the franchise where he started his coaching career as an intern in 2006. He was named an offensive assistant in 2008, succeeded Jim Caldwell as quarterbacks coach the next season and became receivers coach in 2011.

In 2012, he coached the Arizona Cardinals wide receivers and then was hired as the San Diego Chargers’ quarterbacks coach in 2013. The Chargers promoted him to offensive coordinator in 2014, where he stayed until joining the Eagles in 2016.

Reich might be best known, however, for rallying the Bills from a 35-3 deficit to a 41-38 overtime victory over the Houston Oilers in the wild-card round in January 1993 — the biggest comeback in playoff history.

Now, in his first head coaching job, he will be paired with the architect of the second-biggest playoff comeback, Luck.

“Frank Reich was with me at the end of my tenure with the Colts,” Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy wrote on Twitter. “He has a creative offensive mind. He's a great communicator and a high quality person. The Colts are in great hands.”

Although Reich did not call plays for the Eagles, he had a big role in the offense. He helped create and install the system when coach Doug Pederson arrived in 2016 and was a key sounding board for Pederson. He also helped in the decision to draft Wentz.

The Eagles won the Super Bowl this month behind Foles after Wentz, who had developed into a Most Valuable Player candidate, suffered a torn ACL and LCL in December.

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