The NFL world is quite small.
No truer example of that may be this Sunday when the Indianapolis Colts come to town to take on the Los Angeles Chargers as there is a familiarity between the two franchises.
Colts Head Coach Frank Reich was the Bolts’ quarterbacks coach in 2013 and offensive coordinator from 2014-2015. Colts OC Nick Sirianni was on the Chargers coaching staff for five seasons as the team’s offensive quality control coach (2013), quarterbacks coach (2014-2015) and wide receivers coach (2016-2017).
But talking to Reich on a conference call with local reporters, that familiarity isn’t really something the Colts are banking on this Sunday when they take the field at ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park. They’re approaching this game the same way they’d prep for any other.
“I tend to think some of that gets overplayed as far as knowing what’s going to happen,” Reich said. “It’s not that we’ve spent a ton of time in our defensive coordinator’s room trying to tell him what Whiz (Ken Whisenhunt) and Philip (Rivers) and the crew are going to try to do to us… As far as personnel, yeah you know these guys a little bit and you factor that in. But overall, we’re looking at what we’ve got on film. We’re developing our game plans to attack schemes and players like we do every week.”
Though there have certainly been changes since he was last with the Chargers, Reich knows his Colts team is in for a test on Sunday.
“It’s obviously a very well-coached team,” he said. “I have the utmost respect for Coach (Anthony) Lynn. I’ve gotten a chance to know him a little bit and I think he’s a class act and a strong leader. Looking at them defensively, they have some marquee players, obviously in (Joey) Bosa and (Melvin) Ingram, Thomas Davis and Casey (Hayward). (It’s) a really top-notch defense. They really can get after the passer and are good against the run. I think Gus (Bradley) does a great job with that defense. That scheme of defense has really taken hold of in the league and I think Gus has been at the forefront of that. Offensively, they’ve got weapons and this is a dangerous team, obviously led by Philip Rivers, who I think is among the most elite quarterbacks to have ever played this game and (is) at the top of his game.”
In regard to Rivers, Reich calls him the “consummate pro.” He added that it’s no surprise that No. 17 continues to play at a high level even as he gets ready to enter season 16.
“His mental preparation for the game and his love for the game is second to none,” Reich said. “I just know, the three years I was there, I learned so much from him. I learned X’s and O’s stuff from him. I learned a lot. A lot about how he prepares…about how he handles protections that has really influenced me in a lot of ways.”
But the feelings are mutual. Rivers spoke with the media ahead of Sunday’s game and said he looks back on those years fondly. As unsurprising as it has been to see Rivers’ success from afar these last few years, the QB feels the same about Reich.
“Frank as a football coach was awesome to be around,” Rivers mentioned. “Frank as a man was even better. I enjoyed the time spent in the meeting room. The first year here, with Whiz was my first year in a new offense in my whole career. We had so much fun and there were so many discussions on what we were going to call this and what we were going to call that and name this… it was awesome football stuff and life stories… It was a good couple years. We’ve kept in touch over the last couple years. It was awesome to see him do what he did in Philly and I was super fired up for him to get this opportunity in Indy.”