Sports

Stumbling offensively, Colts fire coach Reich

One day after one of the Indianapolis Colts‘ worst offensive performances in recent memory, fifth-year head coach Frank Reich was fired by the team on Monday.

The Colts’ 26-3 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday was their third straight defeat. It was the latest example of their deepening offensive challenges that are beginning to appear insurmountable despite a recent quarterback change from Matt Ryan to Sam Ehlinger and last week’s firing of offensive coordinator Marcus Brady.

Reich, 60, was 40-33-1 (.547) in the regular season with a 1-2 record in two playoff appearances. It was a tenure defined by incessant turnover at quarterback; The Colts had different opening-day starters in each of Reich’s five seasons, as the franchise has struggled to find a quarterback to fill the shoes of Andrew Luck, who retired before the 2019 season. The tenures of the last two — Carson Wentz and Ryan — ending in ugly fashion (Wentz was traded after one season and Ryan benched after seven starts).

The Colts have been unraveling since the end of last season, when Indianapolis lost its final two games despite needing just one victory to clinch a postseason berth. The 2021 finale, a 26-11 loss to the 3-14 Jacksonville Jaguars, was a particularly unsightly performance that drew the ire of owner Jim Irsay and prompted him to recommit to fixing the problems that led to the poor finish.

Ultimately, 2022 did not bring markedly different results.

Offensively, the Colts (3-5-1) are in the worst shape of Reich’s tenure. After Sunday’s game, the longtime NFL quarterback and Super Bowl-winning offensive coordinator with the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles alluded to that frustration of the Colts being so inept on offense, his area of expertise.

“Offensive performance, that’s why I was brought here. That’s my responsibility. So, we’ve got the players. We’ve got the players that are plenty good enough. I have to do a better job. It starts with me on offense. I need to do a better job getting the guys ready to play, putting guys in a good position to win and having answers when we face problems,” he said.

Lately, there have been no answers.

The Colts on Sunday failed to convert any of their 14 third-down attempts, tied for the worst single-game mark in the NFL in the past 30 years. Indianapolis generated 121 yards of total offense, the team’s lowest output since 1997 and the lowest of Reich’s tenure by 84 yards.

Reich gained a reputation during his time in Indianapolis for being able to bring the team back from the brink. The Colts have been notoriously slow starters, but they have consistently rallied late in seasons. The Colts started 1-5 in 2018 but finished 10-6 and made the playoffs. Last season, they started 1-4 before rallying to 9-6, only to go on to those two fateful season-ending losses.

What remains unclear is the fate general manager Chris Ballard, the man who put the team together and hired Reich.

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