INDIANAPOLIS — Frank Reich always told his wife that if he ever got the chance to be an NFL head coach, he only wanted one person to be his offensive coordinator.
And sure enough, that man, Nick Sirianni, was formally announced late last week as the Indianapolis Colts new offensive coordinator under Reich, who begins his first season at the helm of the franchise.
It's a reunion of sorts for Reich and Sirianni, who worked together on the San Diego Chargers' offensive staff from 2013 through 2015.
"Even though I'm a little bit older and a little bit further down the road, the three years that we worked together — I've been around some really smart offensive minds, and I'm not ashamed to say that I learned a ton from him in the three years we were together," Reich, 56, said of the 36-year-old Sirianni Tuesday night at the Colts' second annual Town Hall event. "Together I really think we kind of shaped and molded and tried to advance our thinking in how we could attack defenses, and I learned a ton from this guy."
And, yes, Sirianni is a young, first-time NFL offensive coordinator, but some have said this opportunity with the Colts is a long time coming for this Jamestown, N.Y., native, who wasn't even a teenager when Reich gained legend status as an extremely successful backup quarterback for the nearby Buffalo Bills.
A wide receiver at Division III powerhouse Mount Union in Ohio — the same school that produced former Colts and current San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon — Sirianni got his start in coaching at his alma mater as defensive backs coach in 2004. He moved on for a three-year stint as wide receivers coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania before getting his big break into the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009, when he became an offensive quality control coach.
Sirianni — who also was an assistant quarterbacks and wide receiver coach in Kansas City — then got hired by the Chargers in 2013 as an offensive quality control coach, where Reich was in his first season as the team's quarterbacks coach. The next season, Reich became San Diego's offensive coordinator; his replacement as the team's quarterbacks coach? None other than Sirianni.
Sirianni said the two had an obvious connection from the start.
"We started to see, when he became the (offensive) coordinator for the Chargers and I became the quarterback coach, that we had a lot of the same philosophies and how to play the game of football, especially at the skill position at wide receiver and quarterback," Sirianni said Tuesday. "So I knew I was on the right track if I was thinking the same way that Frank thinks."
Reich has promised a more up-tempo, multiple-personnel offense in Indy, utilizing the same principles that earned him a Super Bowl title earlier this month with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he had served as the team's offensive coordinator the past two seasons.
To Sirianni — who brings plenty of fire to the practice field and the meeting room — that approach is right down his alley.
"The way Frank kind of explained his vision as up-tempo, multiple-personnel offense is the same way I think," he said. "And that's what so good and that's what was such a good dynamic with the Chargers is, when you've got two people that are on the same page on your coaching staff and bouncing ideas off of each other, it really makes for dynamic things to happen."
During games for the Colts this fall, Sirianni envisions a "constant conversation" between Reich. who will be making the play calls, and himself, as well as the quarterback, to ensure everybody is on the same page about what might work best in any given situation.
"What that kind of looks like on gamedays is I'm in the press box, most likely, and Frank's on the field talking to the quarterback," Sirianni told Colts.com's Caroline Cann on Wednesday. "We're just talking back and forth — it's just a steady, calm, talk. Frank's calmer than I am at times, but it's a steady, calm talk all game, a constant conversation: 'Hey, I'm thinking about this,' 'Ooh, I like this.' And that's both of us saying that, and obviously we have good quarterbacks here, so it's really like three people when you mix in a quarterback."