The lesson all teams should learn from the Colts hiring of Frank Reich

Getty Images

While some of the euphoria emanating from Indiana may be a product of convincing fans that chicken salad has become the ultimate product of the events of the past 10 days, the hiring of Frank Reich following the jilting of the team by Josh McDaniels should be regarded as a lesson to every NFL team. And the lesson is clear: Don’t decide who you want to hire before interviewing candidates.

Typically, owners who make a coaching change decide at some point between Halloween and Thanksgiving that a coaching change is needed. And the owners don’t wait until firing the current coach to contemplate a potential replacement. Many owners know who they want before the process of interviewing candidates even begins, with a few others thrown in to the mix to create the impression that the process was somewhat open and inclusive.

For the Colts, Reich was on the preliminary list of potential candidates, but the Colts decided not to interview him. He moved quickly to the top of the list after McDaniels decided not to take the job, thanks in part to Philadelphia’s win over New England in Super Bowl, and owner Jim Irsay and G.M. Chris Ballard spent time publicly chastising themselves on Tuesday for not realizing that Reich was a viable candidate for the job.

While they didn’t admit this specific aspect of the thought process, they didn’t take Reich seriously because they were locked onto getting someone with a connection to the “Patriot Way” (they wanted McDaniels or Mike Vrabel). While there’s no guarantee that interviewing Reich would have made them decide not to offer the job to McDaniels (again, this all could be chicken salad), the reality is that owners should be willing to take the time to cast the broadest net possible, interviewing as many of the coordinators as they can from the teams with playoffs byes in the first week after the regular season ends before shifting the following week to other candidates.

Apart from the potential value of picking brains (the way Al Davis used to do it), taking the time to interview as many people as possible ensures that every team will be looking under every stone, and not simply claiming that no stone has been left unturned. The decision is too significant and the stakes are too high to simply say, “I know who I want, and I’ll interview 2-3 more just to make it look like I did my homework.”

But that’s still what plenty of owners do. Maybe it’s a stubborn insistence on trusting their own instincts. Maybe there’s a certain end-of-season malaise or laziness that keeps the owner from deciding to fly from city to city to city in a compressed time frame to talk to as many candidates as possible.

Whatever the reason(s), the Colts situation underscores the value of ditching the wish list and broadening the search to include candidates whom ownership may regard as potentially viable but not really all that desirable. Even if taking the time to interview these other candidates doesn’t result in one of them bubbling toward the top of the list, it will make the owner feel better about the candidate who entered the process as the predetermined pick.

23 responses to “The lesson all teams should learn from the Colts hiring of Frank Reich

  1. Why were they so hooked on the Patriot way? The only way the Patriot way works is if Belichick is involved.

  2. May be they didn’t take him seriously because Foles’ first couple of games as starters weren’t very impressive after they lost Carson Wentz for the season.

  3. He’s been like a TE or QB coach then OC for one year at each of his stops. Now he’s a darling because McDaniels and Vrabel opted not to work for a flaky owner?

  4. Ahh yes. The new American way. It’s so easy to tell a former lawyer wrote this. Blame everyone else but the clown who actually agreed in principle to take the job, then back out. Talk about a gutless and spineless decision….. much like the actions of lawyers.

    So let me get this straight, it’s ok for josh McCliwn to be a wanted commodity, but the minute a team makes a bee line to hire him and it backfires, that’s not ok?

    Maybe the lesson here should also be to pay attention to ones past. He clowned it up in Denver and one must wonder if he actually changed, clearly he didn’t

  5. Not to get on a social or political rant, but here goes: This lesson is the REASON for the Rooney Rule. Sometimes a candidate just needs an opportunity to talk to decision makers and present themselves. There are plenty of candidates out there who could be very successful, but just need the chance.

  6. Reich has held most positions for several years, receiving promotions when he’s proven himself.

    2006 Indianapolis Colts Intern
    2007 Indianapolis Colts Intern
    2008 Indianapolis Colts Offensive Asst.
    2009 Indianapolis Colts Offensive Asst.
    2010 Indianapolis Colts Offensive Asst.
    2011 Indianapolis Colts Offensive Asst.
    2012 Arizona Cardinals Wide Receivers
    2013 San Diego Chargers Quarterbacks
    2014 San Diego Chargers Offensive Coordinator
    2015 San Diego Chargers Offensive Coordinator
    2016 Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Coordinator
    2017 Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Coordinator

  7. Question: How many disciples from the Belichek (“The Patriot Way”) coaching tree has really bared successful Head coaching fruit after they had left the bosom of Boston?????

  8. But then again, this should always be the thought, if you are serious about winning and NOT solely propagating the old boys’ club of hiring retreads who have failed everywhere they’ve been.

    The truly cutting edge coaches down through the years were almost all unheralded and were “unexpected” hires, because they were the departure from the existing norm.

    What a novel concept /sarcasm.

  9. And that kind of thinking would ALSO negate the necessity for the Rooney Rule and all the buck dancing that teams do by doling out token interviews in the process.

  10. It is how the Steelers ended up with Tomlin…like him or not, he’s won a superbowl…I happen to like him…

  11. laxman1944 says:
    February 15, 2018 at 8:57 am
    Question: How many disciples from the Belichek (“The Patriot Way”) coaching tree has really bared successful Head coaching fruit after they had left the bosom of Boston?????

    Bill O’Brien is a good coach. The Texans fell apart last year, but he is a good coach. He does seem like a pain in the rear end to keep happy though.

    That’s about it as far as HCs go directly from the Bellichick Tree. Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis are terrific assistant coaches, but a very mixed bag as HCs. And Romeo is truly one of the Good Guys in Pro Football.

    McDaniels – he is not strong enough of Charecter to ever be a good HC.

    I think Patircia could do a good job. He has the smarts and really seems to relate to players. I am rooting for him.

    But yes, O’Brien is really the only one that I would say is a good HC.

    It’s not really the Patriot way, it’s the Bellichick Way.

  12. Let’s face it. The colts want winners and the Patriots consistently win. But they lost the super bowl, and their opponents offense chewed up the Patriots defense all game long. So the OC who lost the Super Bowl backed out and they got one of the new winners, the man with his hand in the offense that just beat up the Patriots. I don’t see why this is a big deal at all. They backed into a great hire.

  13. If they wanted a candidate to instill the Patriot way why would they turn the Patriots in for supposedly deflating footballs, wouldn’t be wanting to do that also?

  14. The farther we get away from 2007, the more that 10-6 season that Romeo Crennel forged with the Browns looks like an all-time feat when compared to the coaches before and since with that franchise.

  15. I believe that in fairness to all, no interviews should be allowed until AFTER the Super Bowl. I think it puts both the teams who have interest in candidates that are still coaching and the team those coaches are still part of at a disadvantage. Look how poorly Matt Patricia’s defense played in the SB, not anything like they played in the regular season.

  16. I agree they should do their homework and thoroughly research prospective head coaches, however “casting the broadest net possible” could easily backfire. Other teams could come in and sweep the #1 HC candidate away while Team A is off interviewing the other candidates. Plus it sends a message to the candidates that Team A may not really value me as a candidate because they keep on interviewing numerous other prospects. Face it, by the time Team A has sat down to interview candidates they probably have well vetted these individuals based on their past successes/failure, evaluations by insiders connected to the candidate and the GM’s comfort level with the prospective HC.

  17. Florio missed a couple other lessons for NFL teams. Fiirst, Josh McDaniels is still not mature enough to run a fantasy league team, let alone an NFL franchise. Second you don’t sign assistant coaches to contracts until the head coach who wants those assistants has signed his. This may still come back to bite the Colts. Where was the Colts’ legal counsel in all this?

  18. It’ll all come down to whether Luck is healthy. Brissett did a nice job filling in – but it’s Luck. That, and getting an actual offensive line. Instead of one that’s just plain offensive.

  19. omeimontis says:
    February 15, 2018 at 7:39 am
    May be they didn’t take him seriously because Foles’ first couple of games as starters weren’t very impressive after they lost Carson Wentz for the season.
    I love this narrative put out by people who don’t actually watch games and look at box scores only.

    Foles came into the LA game with the Eagles behind. He brought the team back for a big W.

    Start 1- Giants. 4 TDs 1INT. Eagles D was terrible and he basically carried the O.
    Start 2- Raiders. He didn’t play very well but no one remembers that it was about 15 degrees with heavy winds. As bad as he played he still outplayed Derek Carr
    Start 3- Dallas. He opened the game with a great drive that ended on a drop which may have gone for a score. He played another series and was pulled.

    Playoffs- ATL- terrible weather again. Outplayed the opposing QB again (Matt Ryan)
    Minn- outstanding game. Completely outplayed Keenum
    SB- outplayed Brady. I’m sure stats boy will disagree but Foles was throwing guys open and fitting throws into tight windows. Brady was throwing to wide open receivers all game. He missed several easy throws.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.