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Switch To 4-3 Base Defense 'Really Going To Fit Well' For Reich, Colts

Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich already had his defensive coordinator — and the team’s new base defense — in place upon his hiring.


INDIANAPOLIS —Frank Reich called it a "unique dynamic."

When he was contacted by Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard last week to come in to interview to be their next head coach, Reich did a little bit of homework on his end and learned that, if eventually offered the job, three of the members of his coaching staff — including one of his coordinators — were already accounted for.

See, the Colts had already hired Matt Eberflus (defensive coordinator), Mike Phair (defensive line) and Dave DeGuglielmo (offensive line) to be on Josh McDaniels' staff, but when McDaniels, who had agreed to terms to become the team's new head coach, backed out on that deal Feb. 6, Ballard promised to honor their coaching contracts regardless.

Reich did some quick vetting of those three coaches after his interview, and when he was offered — and accepted — the Colts job on Sunday, he said he was more than ready to hit the ground running.

"I did a lot of homework very quickly, and everything just turned up positive," Reich said. "So it was all-in. You can't explain and understand sometimes the way things happen. Sometimes you've just gotta embrace it and trust — I had to trust Chris and what Chris was saying about the situation, I trusted the people who I talked to just to give me a level of confidence and assurance walking in, and I'm just looking forward to going to work with those guys."

Reich, who comes to the Colts a reigning Super Bowl champion with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he served as offensive coordinator the past two seasons, said he'll handle the playcalling duties for the Indy offense, which leaves the defensive calls in Eberflus' hands.

Eberflus, 47, had spent the last seven seasons as the linebackers coach for the Dallas Cowboys, and in 2016, he added on defensive passing game coordinator duties.

One of the major projects Eberflus immediately takes on is switching the Colts’ base defense from a 3-4 to a 4-3; the major difference between the two being that two outside linebackers in the 3-4 now become defensive ends in the 4-3, much like the Indianapolis defense utilized with the likes of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis up until the 2012 season and the arrival of then-head coach Chuck Pagano.

In the secondary, the Colts will also employ more of a Tampa 2 coverage — again, a throwback to the team's defensive strategies under former head coach Tony Dungy.

Ballard said he feels "very lucky to have Matt Eberflus in the building running a scheme that I think fits our team that we can scout for and that fits our building."

"We're playing on an indoor surface," Ballard continued. "We're going to be playing in ideal weather 8-12 games a year that's going to be based on athletic ability and speed. That's how this defense is built."

Reich, who said he'll employ an "aggressive"-styled offense in Indy, said he thinks the 4-3 defensive scheme under Eberflus will "complement what we do offensively."

"First of all, I like his defensive philosophy and scheme — you know, in the 4-3 scheme that they'll bring there," Reich said Tuesday in an appearance on 1070 The Fan's "The Ride With JMV." "I know I've been playing against it for the last two years when he was in Dallas; I know the problems that it presents offenses. I like the speed of it, I like how it will be built."

"I just think the overall scheme that Matt is going to bring in the 4-3 front and Tampa 2 scheme and everything that that stands for is really going to fit well with what we're going to do," Reich said.

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