INDIANAPOLIS — It's been a good five years since Philip Rivers last played in Frank Reich's offensive system, and yet, two weeks into their reunion with the Indianapolis Colts, it's almost as if the two had never gone their separate ways.
That's how Reich this week described the start of the Colts' offseason program, as Rivers begins the process of re-acclimating himself to a system in which he excelled playing under Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni for a three-year period with the San Diego Chargers.
"Philip, just because of our existing relationship with Nick and I — it's literally like riding a bike," Reich said Monday in a video conference call with local reporters. "We're laughing and joking about how it's just like we've not been together the whole time. A very quick re-acclimation to that."
Rivers had already established himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL when Reich, first as quarterbacks coach, and Sirianni, an offensive quality control coach, joined the Chargers' staff in 2013. But together, the trio was able to help Rivers take his game to new heights.
The 2013 season was one of Rivers' very best. He completed 378-of-544 pass attempts for 4,478 yards with 32 touchdowns to 11 interceptions; he led the NFL in completion percentage (69.5), was fifth in the league yards per pass attempt (8.2) and fourth in passer rating (105.5), and was named the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year.
Both Reich and Sirianni moved up the ladder in 2014, with Reich becoming the Chargers' offensive coordinator and Sirianni being promoted to quarterbacks coach. By the time Reich left to become the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive coordinator in 2016, Rivers would rank, on average, second in the NFL in completion percentage, fifth in passing yards, fifth in touchdown passes, sixth in passer rating, seventh in fewest interceptions and ninth in yards per pass attempt in his three total seasons with Reich/Sirianni duo.
In fact, it was that prior relationship with Reich and Sirianni — as well as Colts tight ends coach Jason Michael, who served in that same role with the Chargers from 2011-13 — that made the decision to sign a free agent deal with the Colts this offseason an easy one for Rivers.
"There is a good dynamic there from the way we communicate," Rivers told reporters March 21. "I think that that is a positive and I do think there was a trust factor that was built in our time here in San Diego. I think that's important as a playcaller and as Nick as the coordinator ... to have that trust – that Frank has called the plays before and we've made it work. I've communicated this to him, we've had a lot of those experiences together – those trust-building experiences and I think that that certainly lends to the confidence that this is going to be a successful opportunity."
That prior experience has certainly paid off through the first 2 1/2 weeks of the team's offseason workout program, which has consisted of two-hour virtual meetings, four days a week, to get everybody caught back up to speed, and even add some new wrinkles learned from the past five years apart.
"We know what Philip likes. Philip kind of knows how we think, but at the same time we've brought some new things. He's brought some new things," Reich said. "That's been fun. It's been exciting to hear some of the things that he's learned over the last few years and he's been equally as eager to hear kind of what we've learned over the last few years as well."