INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich today spoke to local reporters via video conference. What did he have to say about the offense's success going up-tempo in Thursday night's win over the Tennessee Titans, rookie wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.'s best performance so far, the latest on wide receiver Parris Campbell and more?
You can catch that entire session above, but here are some top takeaways:
» The Colts were confident in the no-huddle/quick-paced offensive approach on a short week: Reich not only has plenty of past experience working through a quick-paced offensive attack when needed with quarterback Philip Rivers from their time together with the San Diego Chargers 2013-15, but the third-year Colts head coach also drew upon his experiences with another future Hall of Fame quarterback when putting the plan together for Thursday night's game against the Titans.
Reich said he knew Peyton Manning was very successful when he had less time to prepare for a game — like in a Thursday night setting — because he was so good at running the basic offense, just at a much faster pace.
Reich was a Colts offensive assistant from 2006-08, quarterbacks coach from 2009-10 and wide receivers coach in 2011. During that time, Manning's Colts teams were 5-0 in games played on Thursday night.
This time around, according to Pro Football Focus, the Colts utilized a no-huddle attack on 14 total offensive plays; Rivers was 6-for-8 for 62 yards on those plays, but there were also several other times in which Indy wasn't wasting much time at all between plays. Reich said the faster pace "gave us a spark, good energy," and Indy would ride that energy all the way to a huge 34-17 divisional road win.
"The guys handled it really, really well," Reich said of the fast-paced offensive attack. "Part of that decision was that it was a short week. It was something that Philip and I talked about – that what do you do when you have a short week? Well, one of the answers is – because when you go no-huddle you tend to be a little bit more base core in your play call because you don't have as much shifting and motion and stuff like that. So let's just run our core plays and let's just run them with speed. That's a change-up. So it just made sense to do. I had a lot of experience when I was here before with Peyton. You guys remember how successful Peyton was on Thursday nights. There were a lot of reasons for that but that was one of them."
» Reich was ecstatic to see Michael Pittman Jr. show off his athleticism on Thursday: While some might have labeled Pittman Jr. as more of a "possession"-type receiver coming out of USC this year — and there's nothing wrong with being a possession receiver — the Colts knew Pittman Jr. had the athletic ability to turn in some big performances.
Reich said he had a feeling Thursday night's game against the Titans would be an opportunity for Pittman Jr. to show off those talents, and he ended up being right: the 2020 second-round (34th-overall) pick had his best game to date, with seven receptions for 101 yards (14.4 avg.), and also adding a 21-yard run on a reverse play late in the third quarter.
"There was a conscious effort to get the ball to him in the way that we did," Reich said of Pittman Jr. "We saw this in his college days. I remember Chris (Ballard) and I talking a lot about this, but this guy is fearless, now. He's fearless in every way, but when the ball is in his hands, he wants to hurt somebody. He runs very aggressively. That one shallow route he caught, he turned the corner on 24 and showed speed."
Among Pittman Jr.'s big plays on Thursday night, other than the reverse running play, were receptions of 40 and 30 yards, respectively. The Colts are hoping to see this trend continue for the rest of the season.
"That wasn't possession-type stuff, that was big-play receiver stuff," Reich said. "And we need to see more of that."
» Injury updates: The Colts escaped Thursday night's slugfest with relatively few bumps and bruises, although one key player did exit the game with an injury.
Cornerback Kenny Moore II suffered an injury to his ribs and did not return. Reich said today that Moore II will continue to be evaluated moving forward.
Tight end Jack Doyle, meanwhile, remains in the concussion protocol, according to Reich; Doyle suffered the concussion in Sunday's Week 10 loss to the Ravens, and did not play on Thursday against the Titans.
The good news for both Moore II and Doyle is that the Colts, by virtue of playing on Thursday night, are getting three days of extra rest before they play again; Indy next plays host to the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 22 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
So those are the more immediate injury updates for the Colts; what about the potential return of a key offensive weapon on IR since Week 2?
Second-year wide receiver Parris Campbell went down with a knee injury early in that matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, and would have to eventually undergo surgery. Now that Campbell's on injured reserve, Reich previously has been hesitant to fully rule him out for the rest of the year.
Reich was asked Friday if anything has changed with Campbell's status as it pertains to a possible return later this season.
"At this point, I think it's too early to tell that," Reich said. "I know he's working really hard. So if there is a chance, I know that Parris is the kind of guy that will do everything possible to give himself that chance. But I think it's still too early to tell that."