INDIANAPOLIS —Frank Reich is ready to hit the ground running in his first year as the Indianapolis Colts' head coach.
And on Thursday, he learned just how the season will shape up.
The Colts released their 2018 regular season schedule, which opens up Sept. 9 against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium.
While you can see the entire schedule by clicking here, Colts.com's Caroline Cann was able to catch up with Reich to get his reaction to the 16-game slate. Here's the Q&A from that conversation:
On if it was nice to finally know the schedule for the 2018 regular season:
"It is. And everyone gears up for that first opponent. I mean, you're preparing for the whole year, but you start to gear your preparation, your mindset for Week 1. That's really when we kick it all off."
On the fact the Colts take on the NFC East Division this season with new coaches on staff who come from that division:
"Yeah, it'll be fun. There is a familiarity — talking about it with our defensive coordinator, 'Flus (Matt Eberflus), of course, you know, him being in Dallas last year. So there's some good teams there; good challenges. I think it does help, the familiarity with those defenses — he's familiar with the offenses — so it'll be a challenge. Good teams, good coaching staffs. It'll be fun to go back to Philly, right? I'm super close to those guys. You know, you work hard in this business. But I'm happy to be wearing this (Colts hat), and look forward to going back there."
On if he cared when he took on his former team, the Philadelphia Eagles:
"It doesn't really matter. I mean, it really doesn't matter. Every time you go on the road, it's always a challenge. You know, playing in that stadium is always going to be a challenge. But those are the things that give you a good test early — you know, going up against the defending Super Bowl champs early on the road I think will be a good test for our team."
On the prospects of taking on the AFC East Division:
"I mean, that division is strong; obviously, with the Patriots, of course, leading the way, Buffalo being a playoff team last year. There's some good teams right there — Miami being a playoff team the year before. So it'll be a good challenge. You know, our offensive coordinator, Nick Sirianni, being in LA the last few years, played a lot of those teams. So some familiarity there, again. At this point, you're just ready to go. You just want to get your guys in. I mean, we always talk: the schedule's great, but it's really more about our team, and how we're going to play and who we are going to be."
On if he's excited to play the Buffalo Bills, where he spent several seasons as quarterback:
"I am. I mean, it's exciting — as a former player and seeing what they did last year, making it into the playoffs after not being there for a while, I was real happy with them. I think Sean McDermott's doing a great job. But my wife and I have maintained a lot of relationships in that community. I'm just glad we're playing them here — that's a tough place to play, and so to get them here is good, and look forward to playing the Buffalo Bills."
On the fact five of the Colts' six AFC South Division matchups are in the second half of the season:
"It was a little surprising. I mean, honestly the last couple years it's felt to me like, you know, we play the division early, and then you know you're going to play the division late. That's a good thing that they've done with the scheduling; make those division games late. But, really, five of the six coming in the second half of the year is a little bit unique, but it's kind of fun to have that stretch. Those games kind of count 'double,' as we say. So that will be a good stretch for us."
On the importance of getting in a rhythm by the time the second half of the season comes around:
"Well naturally our plan is to come out hummin' right from the very start. But, you know, as we get later into the season, we've really had a chance to solidify our identity, establish who we are in all phases of the game and really get an idea — good scouting — on our opposing teams as well. So it's fun either way whenever you play 'em, but those division games are huge. Everyone in this league knows that it all starts in your division, and you've got to succeed within your division."