INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich on Wednesday sat down with Colts.com's Matt Taylor to recap the 2018 season, as well as discuss a multitude of other topics, including Andrew Luck's Pro Bowl selection, changes to the coaching staff and what he hopes to accomplish this offseason.
Here's a transcript of that conversation, which you can listen to in its entirety below:
On Andrew Luck being named to the Pro Bowl, and his season overall:
"Man, what an incredible season, right? I mean, it's almost hard to remember the whole shoulder incident, you know, and just what a big ordeal that was in the whole offseason, the beginning of training camp. But he just handled himself like a pro, and then just came out on fire in many ways, playing great football, but then just got better and better as the year went on. And when we won those 10 of 11 games, he was just doing it week in and week out, playing at the highest level you can play."
On Luck going into a “normal” offseason for the first time in three years:
"It's hard to even put myself in his shoes on that one. But I'm happy for him, you know? I got to see first-hand how much effort he put into that last year, and I got a little bit of taste of the trauma, you know, that he had been through, just listening to him talk through it. But, man, he finally can have a normal offseason; I'm sure it'll be fun for him."
On what this last year has been like for him personally:
"Yeah, it's been a whirlwind. You know, coming right off the Super Bowl last year, and then the doors opening up here in an incredible way — just a dream come true to be able to come back here, and then have the season we did. It's been non-stop for two straight years. So, speaking of normal (offseasons) and a little time off, I think I might be looking forward to a little bit of that myself."
On what led him to pen a personal letter to Colts fans:
"Well, you know what? After that loss in Kansas City, man, it was just hurt. We were all so excited; we just thought we were going all the way to the top of this mountain, you know? We're going all the way to the top. I really believe everyone on the team and in this building believed that. And then, you know, just flying home on the plane, (I) was just reflecting on the year. And even though it was disappointing, I was just flooded with all these positive thoughts, you know, of us climbing this mountain, just the way the city got all fired up about everything and then the '1-0' mantra. And I just got really started thinking how we did it; how we accomplished it, to get into the playoffs after that poor start, and it just hit me that personally, right, we're all kind of living a 1-0 mantra. So, really, the letter was to serve two purposes. No. 1, it was to encourage our fans; to say thank you for your support, we couldn't have done it without you in this climb. You know, playing at Lucas Oil (Stadium) during that stretch was so much fun, so much excitement, so thank you to the fans. We should be encouraged about this team. Although we didn't make it all the way to the top, man, we got close, and it's gonna help us for next year. But not just an encouragement; really, as I was thinking about it, it was an inspiration. I really wanted to kind of share for maybe a couple people, a few people, the inspiration of, 'Hey, just like when you're 1-5, sometimes in life, we're at 1-5 in life; we all face challenges.' And, for me personally, I've experienced that same 'Get better every day,' 1-0 mentality to help me get through things that aren't just football-related, but in life as well, and wanted to share that with the fans."
On recent changes to the coaching staff, including assistant offensive line coach Bobby Johnson being named the Buffalo Bills' offensive line coach, and deciding to part ways with offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo:
"Obviously in Bobby's case, it was a tremendous opportunity for him. You know, right after the season, I got a call right after the season — in fact, I got a call from those guys noting there could be some interest. And so it's a great opportunity for Bobby to go there and be the offensive line coach. And then, of course, after the season, you know, just decided to part ways with Guge. And that was really hard, because I so much respect Guge as a person and as a coach. You know, he played a significant role in us coming in here and the success we had. And it's hard — it's hard to explain. It was really odd dynamics the way that he and I got connected, and it's no reflection on him or anything; it's just when I had envisioned getting this position, you know, there's certain things that you just are looking for, in ways that you just want to have 'my guy,' for lack of a better way to say. You always envision bringing in the guy that you had envisioned bringing in. But certainly appreciate the contribution Guge made, and I told him that, and love and respect him."
On the focus of the coaching staff this offseason now with a year under its belt:
"Well, now it's, OK, we start that cycle. So we come in, we evaluate, we do our own player evaluations, and then we do our self-scout and evaluate everything we did, how can we get it better in all phases of the game? And then we get right into free agent evaluations, and then we get into draft evaluations, and then right after that, then the players get back in in April, and then it's here all again very quicky."
On the success of the Colts' 2018 rookie class:
"Wow — what a draft class, right? What a draft class; we had a young team (and) Chris and his staff did a phenomenal job. You know, you think of the impact that Quenton Nelson made. We knew he was going to make an impact, and man, he just exceeded expectations and was just All-Pro — that thing is legendary, right? Him and Darius. I mean, Darius, that was such a great story for all of us, you know? There's this guy, obviously Chris and his staff and all of us were very high on, but he comes in here and does what he did, and he Quenton being named First-Team All-Pro as rookies — first time since forever — is incredible, right? And then just going down the line: Braden Smtih, (Kemoko) Turay, Tyquan Lewis, (Nyheim Hines), Daurice Fountain, Jordan Wilkins, Deon Cain, Matt Adams, Zaire Franklin. Those guys all contributed — Deon, obviously, was hurt — but other than that, all these guys contributed to playing winning football, and what a great foundation for us going ahead."
On kicker Adam Vinatieri and his pending free agency:
"He's the 'G.O.A.T' for a reason, right? And, I mean, just the week before the season ends, he's out there kicking 63, 64 yarders on the practice field. I don't know how he does it. The guy's incredible. So he's still kicking at a very high level. I know he's working through that decision (and) has expressed some desire of, 'Hey, probably want to (return),' but I can certainly understand and respect him to take a minute to think that through. But I'll have to keep sending him texts, 'Come on, now. Let's go. Get back here. We've got a few more years left in you.'"
On if he'll watch the playoffs the rest of the way:
"That's a really good question. I'll probably watch on and off a little bit. I probably won't sit down and grind it out through every one, but try to get away a little bit and rest. But I'll probably want to peek, particularly at the AFC."
On the fact the last four teams left in the two conference championship games are Nos. 1-4 in total offense, and if having a dynamic offensive attack is simply what's needed to be successful in today's NFL:
"You've gotta score points. I mean, the league average in points keeps going up and up. I mean, the rules are a little bit tailored that way, so thankfully we've got the quarterback we do and the weapons that we've got, the guys like T.Y. Hilton and (Eric) Ebron and the rest of the guys that we can score some points. And we did — we really made some strides there this year, and I just think that will be a good foundation going forward. But, really, you do have to be a good offense, but still, the best team, you know, you've gotta play good defense. I mean, you think about the stretch that we put together, and our defense was playing good during that stretch. Yeah, we were putting up some points and some numbers, but you've gotta be good in all three phases to be a championship team."