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Colts' Coach of the Year candidate Frank Reich says God is his 'top priority'

If you’re looking for an example of a successful head coaching hire in the NFL, look no further than Frank Reich.

The Indianapolis Colts were once perennial contenders out of the AFC, an annual powerhouse in the Peyton Manning years and then a conference championship hopeful with Andrew Luck as recently as 2014. For the three long seasons before 2018, however, they missed the postseason in back-to-back-to-back years while struggling to ensure Luck’s long-term health.

Under Reich, everything has reverted back to normal in a hurry.

He may not have been the Colts’ original target, seeing as though Indianapolis even had a press conference scheduled for New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in February. But if his first 15 weeks on the sidelines are any indication, Reich has proven to be the right choice for Luck, for the team and for the franchise’s foreseeable future.

A year after Indy finished 4-12, Reich has guided the Colts to an 8-6 mark and the brink of the AFC playoff picture. And that record is even more impressive considering how it’s been accomplished. With Luck back on the field and in Pro Bowl form under Reich’s tutelage, the team opened 1-5 in feisty fashion, losing three of those contests in just one-score fashion. Since then, however, the Colts have rattled off a 7-1 stretch that included Sunday’s 23-0 shutout of the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys — a streak that has Indy in contention for its first playoff game in years.

Along the way, the 57-year-old Reich has drawn praise for his “calm, cool” leadership in a once-embattled organization, and some think he is a legitimate favorite for Coach of the Year honors. A trip to the postseason would almost ensure his candidacy, if not solidify Indianapolis’ embrace of him atop the team’s coaching staff.

Reich himself has attributed his humble coaching style to the Christian faith he repeatedly proclaimed while serving as the Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive coordinator in 2017. A former Buffalo Bills quarterback who began his coaching career with the Colts back in 2008, he found a relationship with Jesus during college and has praised its impact on his life and career ever since. At one point, he even pastored a church in Charlotte, S.C.

“It was just a life-changing moment for me when I realized that I needed to make (serving the Lord) the top priority in my life and to understand that I can still excel at football,” Reich told Sports Spectrum before Super Bowl LII. “I can still excel at whatever it was that I wanted to do but also understand how it integrates to every point of your life.”

Reich and the Colts will return to the field on Sunday to take on the New York Giants, then finish the 2018 regular season with a Dec. 30 matchup against the Tennessee Titans.

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