INDIANAPOLIS — Like just about everyone across the league, Frank Reich has admired the way Andrew Luck has handled his business as the quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts from a distance.
And now, after working with some of the best quarterbacks the game has to offer over the past decade, Reich is more than ready to get an up-close-and-personal look into what makes Luck tick.
Reich, hired to be the Colts' new head coach on Sunday, told Colts.com's Matt Taylor this week that he's "excited about what's ahead" for Luck once he is able to fully recover from his shoulder surgery that forced him to miss the entire 2017 season.
"And once he gets over this injury," Reich said, "the best is ahead."
Reich brings to the Colts the rare perspective of a guy who has performed on the highest of stages as an NFL quarterback, but also someone who has had success working and shaping quarterbacks as a coach at the professional level.
A third-round pick of the Buffalo Bills back in 1985, Reich would go on to have a 14-year NFL career, most of which was spent as the popular backup to future Hall of Famer Jim Kelly in Buffalo.
But don't let the "backup" moniker fool you — Reich could play. He appeared in 118 games with 20 starts from 1985 through 1998 and completed 508 of 932 career passes for 6,075 yards with 40 touchdowns to 36 interceptions.
He was even better when pressed into duty in the playoffs, participating in 14 postseason games in all with two starts (winning both of those games) and completing 67-of-104 passes for 783 yards with seven touchdowns to three picks. Included in that group of games was his performance in the greatest comeback in NFL history, as his Bills recovered from a 32-point third quarter deficit to defeat the Houston Oilers, 41-38, in the Wild Card Round of the 1992 NFL playoffs.
Only one playoff game has even come close to that level since: a 28-point turnaround by the Colts to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs, 45-44, in their 2013 AFC Wild Card Round matchup.
The quarterback of that Colts team? Andrew Luck.
"I've always incredibly respected and admired his career," Reich said of Luck. "Obviously watching him come out of college, watching him come out of Stanford — he was incredible — but then watching him play here, just the toughness, the competitiveness of it."
Since starting his coaching career as an intern with the Colts in 2006, Reich has been able to rise through the ranks while working the best of the best. He was promoted to be Indy's quarterbacks coach in 2009-10, when he worked with Peyton Manning in arguably two of his best overall seasons with the Colts. A couple years later, he was hired on to be quarterbacks coach, and later offensive coordinator, with the San Diego Chargers, and he was able to take Philip Rivers to new heights as he got into the 10th year of his career.
Reich then became head coach Doug Pederson's offensive coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he spent the last two seasons. In 2016, the team took quarterback Carson Wentz with the No. 2-overall pick, and he worked with Reich to morph into a legit MVP candidate by late into his second season before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
Despite the fact the Eagles wouldn't have their franchise quarterback the rest of the way, their offense didn't fold. In fact, once the postseason came, Reich was instrumental in the rise of backup quarterback Nick Foles, who would ultimately claim game MVP honors in the Eagles' 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
Now the Reich hopes to take Luck and the rest of the Colts offense to that level.
"I can tell you as a former quarterbacking coach, I've had the greatest admiration for him as a player," Reich said Tuesday in his introductory press conference. "I think to have such a supremely talented player with such strong character and such great humility and such a team-first guy is rare and I couldn't be more happy about working with the prospect."