INDIANAPOLIS —Frank Reich on Monday morning stood in front of his players and laid down the foundation of what the Indianapolis Colts are expecting — with no exceptions — moving forward.
After failing to reach the playoffs for three straight seasons — something unheard of in Indianapolis as recently as 2014, when the team advanced all the way to the AFC Championship game — the team decided on Feb. 11 that Reich, a successful NFL quarterback and, more recently, assistant coach and coordinator, was the man to lead the franchise back to its winning ways.
Nevermind the fact that Monday's speech to the Colts players, who had reported earlier in the morning for their first day of the team's offseason workout program, was Reich's first as an NFL head coach. After helping guide the Philadelphia Eagles to their first-ever Super Bowl title as the team's offensive coordinator in 2017, Reich knows exactly what it will take to get the Colts where they want to go.
Colts.com cameras were granted exclusive access into Reich's first-ever team address, in which he had a specific message for his players.
"If we're gonna fulfill the vision that we have as an organization, and as a team, of being perennial contenders — perennial contenders; year in and year out — one good season's not enough. I'm just going to tell you that right now. One good season's not going to be enough," Reich said. "Perennial contenders: best in our division; best in our conference; best in the NFL — that's the vision. That's what we as a team are going to do together, we as an organization are going to do together. So if we're going to do that, then what are the key ingredients that are going to build the culture — and what's the culture?"
That culture, Reich said, will be built with three 'T's:' trust, toughness and teamwork.
TrustTrust, Reich said, will certainly have to be earned in many aspects. But he also said Monday's first day of the offseason program featured a bit of trust already being given to the players themselves to do what needs to be done to get things going in the right direction.
"It's the foundation of everything, men," Reich said. "I know you all have been on good teams before, I don't care what level, but it is 100 percent true you can't get there if you don't trust each other. You cannot get there if you don't trust each other, you can't get there if you don't trust the process.
"We're going to start with trust. That's where we have to start to get to where we want to go. We've got to start with trust. You've got to trust each other, you've got to trust us as coaches, trust this organization that it's not just earned, but trust is given."
Reich told his players that "every person in this room … has already been through a stringent, a very stringent, vetting process."
"This room's hard to get into, and I'm sure glad everyone that is in this room is here, because you're for a reason," Reich continued. "You're here because you were personally selected by this organization. Of all the guys out there, you were selected to be on this team for 2018."
While toughness is a quality that just goes along with the game of football, it's tough at times to pinpoint an actual definition for the word — unless you're Reich.
"Here's just a working definition that we can work with; that we together can work with, that toughness is this: it's a relentless drive to get better every day. And it's an obsession to finish," Reich said. "I'm looking for tough players, I'm looking for tough coaches; I just want to see who's trying to get better every day."
Reich added "there is no room for complacency — there is no room for coasting" in his locker room.
"We know that can't happen in this business," he said. "And so that's what we're going to be about."
"It's about us. It's about us. It's gotta be about us."
As Reich and Colts general manager Chris Ballard have sat down in recent weeks to discuss the direction of the franchise, their talks just keep going back to those sentiments.
"We're going to be football players — I'm not worried about time, speed and all that; I mean, I get it, that all has a place," Reich told his team. "I want football players; guys who know how to play the game of football, right? We want guys — Chris and I must've said this a thousand times — guys who love ball. Because I know if you love ball, you'll love coming to work and love getting better."
But, most of all, the players need to "love to play for their teammates."
"And then we make each other better," Reich said. "And I don't know anything else other than that."
Just a couple hours into Day 1 of the offseason program, the Colts players already have a good grasp on what is expected from them moving forward.
Is it too early in the year to get amped up for the season? Perhaps to outsiders, but as Reich stressed to his team on Monday, "every little detail matters."
"I know it's Phase 1; I know it's, 'Don't be too rah-rah, it's Phase 1.' No, but this is when we get paid to be rah-rah, right? We've got to build it now. I've got to build it now," Reich said. "We start today, right? We start today, so every person matters, every detail matters, every rep matters, every meeting — in sum, everything matters, men. Everything that we do matters, it all adds up, it's all going to be put out on the field on Sundays."