Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Colts' Frank Reich named AFC Coach of the Year after improbable debut season

Six games into his NFL head-coaching debut, Frank Reich’s team was a measly 1-5, good for last place in the AFC South division. It raised speculation that maybe the Indianapolis Colts would’ve been better off hiring someone else.

Twelve games later, Reich is the AFC Coach of the Year.

As The Herald Bulletin reported this week, NFL 101, a contingent of 101 members of the national media, has named Reich the conference’s top head coach for 2018. The honor, which only four other Colts coaches have earned in the history of the team, comes weeks after Reich successfully guided that same 1-5 team to a 10-6 finish, plus Indianapolis’ first playoff appearance since 2014. Entering this year, only two other NFL teams had ever rebounded from a 1-5 start to make the postseason.

Under Reich, the Colts managed a 1-1 playoff record, routing the Houston Texans before falling to the AFC runner-up Kansas City Chiefs. But the former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator has reflected on the season as a whole with gratitude.

“I just couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams how this year was,” Reich said, per the Bulletin. “We talked about climbing the mountain and one of the things that I was reminded of this year — believe me, when you climb the mountain, you are climbing it for one reason, to get to the top, to get to the top of the mountain. But it’s all about the climb, man. It’s all about the climb.”

Those sentiments mirror Reich’s journey of faith, which he’s shared publicly ever since transitioning from pastor to football coach. A devout Christian, he has called God his “top priority” and attributed his humble coaching style to a life — or a “climb” — guided by his relationship with Jesus.

“I often use the analogy of a car,” Reich once told CBN. “I tell people that football is the vehicle, the car, if you will, that God placed me in to take me through a season of my life. Just like a car, God used sports, football, to take me to certain cities to meet certain people to learn certain things to do certain works, I believe.”

A former NFL quarterback best known for playing with the Buffalo Bills, Reich began his pro coaching career with the Colts in 2008, first serving as an offensive assistant. After four years in Indy, he moved on to jobs with the Arizona Cardinals and San Diego Chargers, then won a Super Bowl as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator in 2017. A former Tony Dungy assistant, he’s now preparing to enter his second season running the Colts.

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