ORLANDO, Fla. —Throughout his entire NFL career — as a player and as a coach — Frank Reich has gained a crystal-clear view of the importance of quality quarterback play, especially in today's oftentimes pass-heavy playbooks.
Reich has learned that if you have a quarterback that can do it all — if your signal caller can not only make all the throws, but can run the offense with efficiency and be the leader not only of his unit, but of the entire locker room — then you've really got something special.
And Reich knows he can count on all of those qualities when it comes to Andrew Luck.
The first-year Indianapolis Colts head coach discussed his new quarterback this week when he joined the "Around The NFL" podcast with NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal, Dan Hanzus, Marc Sessler and Chris Wesseling.
Luck, who continues rehab work after missing the entire 2017 after undergoing shoulder surgery, is set to return to the Colts' facility with the rest of his teammates April 9, when the team begins its offseason workout program.
Asked if he was expecting that Luck — who continues a stringent rehab regimen on his own — will be good to go by the start of the 2018 season, Reich said he's "confident" in that scenario. But Reich also said worrying about Luck's availability — or any other player on the roster, for that matter — so far down the road goes against his typical line of thinking.
"In this business you learn that you just grind it out each day, and you coach the guys that are there," Reich said. "You're hopeful that he's going to be there, you plan that he's going to be there, all the rehab is checking off all the boxes — 'Yep, we hit that stage; stage one, stage two, stage three.' It's all been good, but we'll just have to keep progressing down that road."
Still, if you're Reich, it's tough not to imagine what a healthy Andrew Luck could do in his fast-paced, attacking style of offense.
As the offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles, Reich last year saw second-year quarterback Carson Wentz develop into a Most Valuable Player candidate within his system last year, and when Wentz went down with a season-ending knee injury late in the season, backup quarterback Nick Foles stepped in and led the franchise to its first-ever Super Bowl victory.
Now in charge of Luck and the Colts' offense, Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni have devised — and will continue to devise — a system that takes advantages of the weapons within it.
And that all starts with Luck.
"I can barely contain the excitement. I'm not gonna lie," Reich said when asked about Luck's potential in his offense. "Because, you know, a couple years ago, just watching him play, coming out, you just know this guy is elite in every sense of the word. In every aspect — all the skills and talent and mental capabilities — that you need, and the physical traits that you need, he's got them all.
"And then he's got this team-first spirit, and I always think that the guys, when you get an elite player who's really a team-first player, that can take your organization, your team, to another level, and I think he has all of those."