Weeks before the 2021 season kicked off, Frank Reich leaned back in his chair and glanced at a printout behind his desk with the Colts' 2021 schedule on it.
"Nobody knows how the season's going to unfold, how good each team is going to be, what injuries they're going to have or not have, what ups and downs and breaks go this way or that way," Reich said in a Q&A with Colts.com. "Every team is good in my mind. I look at our schedule right there and say we can beat every one of those teams and every one of those teams is capable of beating us. We're going to do what we do. We're going to practice hard, we're going to prepare hard and we're going to play them one at a time and then see what happens."
Reich has consistently delivered that message in his four years as the Colts' head coach: Every team is good, and every team can win in a given week.
So as the Colts re-convened at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on Monday after a "mini bye" following Thursday night's 45-30 win over the New York Jets, a volatile Sunday provided an opportunity for Reich to reinforce that message.
"When you're in the position we're in, you love weekends like this," Reich said. "It does prove the point. It also proves the point why 1-0 is the only mentality that we can have. It's the mentality that works, it's the mentality that is the most productive – it just makes the most sense. You can't get into, you just can't get into trying to figure out what's going to happen.
"Focus – one of the things that we say a lot about focus is it's staying in the present. Not getting too far out ahead, not getting a play ahead or not getting a play behind but always staying in the moment. That includes your schedule. That includes your schedule first and foremost. It definitely helps the argument when you see a weekend like we just saw."
On Sunday, the (before kickoff) 4-4 Denver Broncos beat the 6-1 Dallas Cowboys, 30-16. While that game was happening, the 1-6 Jacksonville Jaguars toppled the 5-2 Buffalo Bills, 9-6.
The Colts, of course, play the Jaguars and Bills the next two weeks.
So the mantra for the Colts as they dive deeper and deeper into the second half of the season is to stick to their week-to-week process and not look any farther ahead than the opponent ahead of them on Sunday. This week, that's the Jaguars.
"That's what the league is striving for, right? The parity. Love it," Reich said. "What it comes down to, it's a game of execution. Then, a long season. It continues to prove the point that the teams that can continue to get better and learn to be more consistent, it's like – it's maybe the analogy is the player who flashes early in training camp but then doesn't play as much. It's the same thing as far as a team. A team can flash early, but it's a long season.
"We talk about this all the time. It's the teams that can consistently – it's why you have to get grounded in your process, to be able to consistently get better and you have to believe that that's going to be enough."