INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich on Wednesday met up on stage with general manager Chris Ballard at the annual Colts Kickoff Luncheon for a Q&A session about a variety of topics.
Here's that conversation with FOX59's Chris Hagan (check out Ballard's Q&A by clicking here):
On what's different this time around for him as the head coach as opposed to his last stop as an intern and assistant coach with the Colts:
"Nothing new, except for this — it's all about the same thing: it's all about the people, it's all about the process. And in this business, in the coaching profession, it's about being around players, and players who want to get better, players who know how to grind, players who want to form that bond, want to form around a common vision, and that just creates a unique dynamic when you are around guys like that."
On what he's learned now as a head coach as opposed to being a coordinator or assistant:
"It's fun. I mean, as a head coach you don't want to micromanage, so it's not like I'm going in there with Matt (Eberflus) and the defensive coaches and trying to rediagram what we're doing defensively. But what you want to know as a head coach is — because it's all about the players — what are they being asked to do? You know: what are they being asked to do? And then, really, the fun part of it is getting to know the players. Typically as an offensive coach, (you're) hanging out with the quarterbacks a lot of the time, the receivers; that's the normal thing. But now as a head coach, really being able to get involved in every aspect of it is pretty exciting."
On what he's learned about how to dial up the right plays:
"You know as a playcaller that, sure, you work hard to design good plays, you gameplan, you do all that stuff. But at the end of the day there's an adage: it's about players, it's not about plays. And so as you get into a game, you just can't ever lose sight of that. When you're calling plays, you're not seeing some diagram that's in the playbook; you're seeing your players' faces. And so as the game goes on, what you have to learn to do as a playcaller is continually see that. Because it's putting them in position — at the right time, at the right place — to do what they do best. That's why they're out there. And the other thing that you really have to be good at — and this takes everybody; that's why I'm really excited about our staff — you're the playcaller, but on offense, Nick Sirianni as the coordinator, the whole offensive staff, there's a lot of discussion that goes on on the sideline. You know, you talk between series, with the coaches, what's happening — you know, you don't wait until halftime to make adjustments. You're making adjustments play-by-play, series-by-series, and that has to be reflected in the playcalling. You've gotta be able to adapt to help the players out (and) put them in position to make winning plays."
On how not every play he calls will be a dramatic touchdown:
"Unfortunately no, right? But you do think of it — I do think of it — like terms of boxing. You are looking for that knockout punch, so you're thinking two, three, four plays ahead. You're thinking series ahead. You've talked about this, you've planned about it, you think about it like a boxing match. What are you gonna do when you get knocked to the canvas, and you've got in 2nd and 20? How do you respond? How do you get back in phase? Those are all things that what you find as a playcaller you try to play those scenarios out in your mind before they happen, so that when they do happen you're really quick to respond."
On if he ever thought of becoming a head coach, or if he just believed the opportunity would present itself whenever it did:
"I think there was a little bit of both. Even from my rookie year in 1985, Bill Polian talked to me about this kind of a vision. And it was something growing up in a family, my dad was a head football coach of a high school, my brother's a Division II head coach — been for a long time — so I think it was always out there, but then there's always that part of the daily grind, and learning along the way to just invest yourself completely in what you're in. You don't ever think, 'Yeah, I'm gonna climb my way to the top;' you work your way to the top. You do things the right way, you treat people the right way — not because it can advance you, but it's just the right way to do it. And then you make the most of the opportunities. And if it comes your way and you get the opportunity, then you seize it."
On returning his family to the Indianapolis area:
"It's been incredible. My wife and I have three daughters, and two of them graduated high school here in Indianapolis. My daughter just graduated from IU. And I was always proud of having three daughters that whenever I'd go to football camp and take them, they'd always impress the boys, 'cause … they could all three throw a football about as far as any boy could. I made sure I taught them how to do that. And so even now when still get together with them, every now and then I ask them, 'Have you been taking snaps?' I think it was last summer I had my youngest daughter, we were out in the back yard, I was checking out her five-step drop. It's just fun stuff. And this community means a lot to all of us. In this business you travel around; I've been in multiple NFL teams as a player and as a coach, but for some reason when we were here — probably because of winning so many games when we were here, being part of that time when we had seven years of 12 wins or more; I only caught the tail end of that — but this community was so fun to be in, and my kids and my wife and I just so connected the first time we were here that, to get an opportunity to be the head coach here, are you kidding me? I mean, as a family, it couldn't have been any better."
On if he ever gets tired of fans trying to talk to him about completing the largest comeback win in NFL playoff history as quarterback of the Buffalo Bills:
"I'm happy to discuss it because of like what Peyton (Manning) said earlier, because this is the ultimate team game. And something like that really epitomizes it. I mean, you can't be down by that many points — you know it's not one guy just taking over a game; he just turned on a switch and all of a sudden started cranking out points, and then turned around and stopped their offense and special teams and the whole deal. So you like talking about it, because there's so many life lessons you learn, team lessons that you learn, it's one play at a time, and if there's one thing I learned through those games, that anytime you're taking on a challenge, that's really what you need: you need to surround yourself with people who believe, and you really need to take that mentality of, 'Hey, it's one day at a time.' And one of the things I've just always loved being around players now — been around a lot of different areas in life, a lot of different business interests, but players are the smartest people I've ever been around, because there's something really unique about players that everybody needs to know in here is that they spent their whole life getting critiqued, getting told how to get better. It's not like sometimes in the business world — I've been part of some businesses and we have quarterly reviews and annual reviews — no; in football, it's daily reviews. And you're getting told every day how to get better, and so what that does is it just creates a toughness and a drive that's just fun and exciting to be around, and when you're around that every day, that's when that thrill of spontaneity, if you will, that's when that kind of thing happens, when you get a bunch of guys who can fight like that and who believe like that, it's amazing what can happen."
On if he drew from also being the quarterback of the largest come-from-behind victory in college football history at Maryland when he helped lead the Bills to that comeback victory later down the road:
"Without question. I mean, I think you call upon everything you've experienced. And when you get knocked down to the canvas, and you have to decide what are you gonna do? And it really, literally, I know it sounds boring, but there's nothing else other than, 'Hey, we're doing this one play at a time, and I'm doin' it with the guy next to me. I mean, we're fightin' through it together.' And, you know, it's funny: we learn in this business not to be ashamed of that — it sounds corny — but you embrace that, you live for that, and you live for the guys who believe and drink and eat and sleep that kind of mentality."