Reich replaces Chuck Pagano as coach after a search that took twists and turns. Indianapolis had announced that Josh McDaniels, New England’s offensive coordinator, had agreed to become coach on Feb. 6 and scheduled an introductory news conference for the next day. McDaniels then called Colts general manager Chris Ballard on the evening of Feb. 6 and reneged on the agreement, saying he decided to stay with New England. Ballard took the blame for the team announcing the agreement with McDaniels before he signed the contract.
Ballard, in a news conference the following day, said he wanted “someone that’s 100 percent committed to partnering with us and getting that work done.”
Ballard moved swiftly to get a hire made after the McDaniels fiasco. He interviewed Reich, New Orleans assistant head coach and tight ends coach Dan Campbell and Buffalo defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier in a three-day span before ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported on Sunday that Reich was the favorite for the job.
Reich’s hiring ends a six-week coaching search in which the Colts went from being the first of six teams to fire their head coach to the last of the six to fill their opening
Reich, 56, spent the past two seasons in Philadelphia helping the Eagles’ offense, which has been led by quarterbacks Carson Wentz and then Nick Foles, improve from 22nd to seventh in the NFL this season.
Reich, who didn’t call plays with the Eagles, began his coaching career as an offensive staff assistant with former Colts coach Jim Caldwell in 2008 after having retired from playing 10 years earlier. Reich was Peyton Manning’s quarterback coach in 2009-10 before coaching Reggie Wayne and the rest of the receivers in 2011. He was also receivers coach in Arizona and offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach with the San Diego Chargers.
The Colts are coming off a 4-12 season and have missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons. The Colts will have about $85 million in salary-cap space and the No. 3 overall pick in the April draft. The key for the Colts, though, will be the health of quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck missed all of last season after having right shoulder surgery in January 2017. Luck, who has not thrown a football since the middle of October, is currently in Southern California working with a throw expert.
“He has not picked up a football, but he is throwing balls, working on arm speed,” Ballard said on Feb. 7. “He’s not going to skip a step. I don’t know if you know Andrew, but Andrew is not going to skip a step. He’s going to do everything right to get himself ready to play and I’m very confident, he’s very confident, that he’s going to come back and prove a lot of people wrong. I’m very proud of the kid — wouldn’t want anybody else on our team. We want our team to match what he has inside.”
The NFL Network first reported the agreement on a five-year deal.