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Can you see Frank Reich leading this team for a long time alongside Andrew Luck?
On Sunday the Buffalo Bills travel to Indianapolis to take on the Indianapolis Colts. The Bills are looking to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss last week to the Houston Texans but it will not be easy. With Josh Allen still hurt, the team is turning to Derek Anderson who just signed last week. To get a preview of the Colts we talked to Chris Blystone from Stampede Blue.
Absolutely. What we’ve seen from Frank Reich so far is a guy who is destined for a long career as a head coach with the Colts. He is such a breath of fresh air after the coaching staff that it is hard to totally quantify all the positives, but I’ll try.
First, Reich is calm under pressure, as Bills fans obviously know. Chuck Pagano didn’t often get worked up, but it sometimes appeared to be less as a result of being calm as it was a general confusion about what was going on.
Reich has the feel of a teacher and developer of talent. That’s exactly what this very young Colts team needs. He has changed the vibe and belief in the Colts’ locker room dramatically, from one that uttered cliches and didn’t live up to expectations, to one that is accountable and has shown improvement in a number of areas week to week.
There is also a clear improvement in offensive play calling. That has been harder to see some weeks due to the rash of injuries, but when the Colts get healthy, this team is going to do some damage on offense. A lot of that is due to Reich’s play calling, his willingness to collaborate with all his offensive staff as well as his players, and his whole approach to teaching the offense.
Defensively, Reich has leaned on DC Matt Eberflus, not overreaching his area of expertise. Eberflus has done well and gotten great play out of a young defense with several gaps.
The primary area of Reich’s coaching that needs improvement is his in-game management of situations that might need reviewed or challenged. I largely chalk those up to being a rookie head coach. All in all, I think Colts fans got really lucky to miss out on the visor-wearing punk from New England and are thrilled to have landed Frank Reich.
Speaking of Luck, what is your opinion on people saying Luck has lost arm strength?
My opinion is that those people haven’t watched him play. Those who rely on stats instead of film to gauge a player’s ability are typically wrong, and this is one of those cases.
A combination of a banged up offensive line, a lack of healthy receivers, and Reich introducing more West Coast concepts into the offense has led to a pretty low yards per attempt number for Andrew Luck. Because of that, some have attempted to make the argument that he is not himself anymore. That just doesn’t hold up to even the most basic scrutiny of his game film.
Andrew Luck is playing as well as he was back in 2014 prior to his injury. He hasn’t had a lot to work with in terms of quality receivers, but if they can get their entire offense healthy coming out of their bye week, I believe you’ll hear that noise get very quiet.
Luck is already looking like an elite quarterback surrounded by a cast of misfits. When he gets T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle back, I anticipate we will see him looking like one of the best quarterbacks in football, which he is.
What has been the biggest weakness on this team?
Honestly, the biggest weakness on the team is inconsistency. As a very young team, you just can’t tell what you’re going to get week-to-week. The defense has had games where you think they could grow to be one of the best in the league. Then they’ll follow it up by laying down and letting an offense run them over.
On the offensive side of the ball, the receivers cannot consistently bring in catches, and they can’t put together a good rushing attack with regularity. The constants have been the offensive line play which has kept Luck upright, and Andrew Luck’s play.
Inconsistency is pretty understandable given this team’s general youth and lack of experience. What we hope is that as the season progresses, it becomes less and less of an issue.
If you had to come up with one trade to help this team win now what would it be?
Unfortunately the Colts aren’t just one player away from being in “win now” mode. I am hopeful that backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett gets traded in the offseason for either some draft capital or a top quality player. He is good enough to be worth a good bit in trade.
If I had to make a move to improve this unit right now, I’d stick with trading away Brissett. I am terrible at working these out, but I’d propose trading Brissett to the Giants for Landon Collins and a conditional 6th round pick.
The Colts secondary is young and inexperienced, but pairing Collins with Malik Hooker would give the Colts very possibly the best safety tandem in the NFL for a long time into the future. He would immediately give them an excellent playmaker and presence on defense and solidify a position of relative weakness on the roster.
What is your prediction for Sunday?
T.Y. Hilton has been at both practices this week, leading me to believe he will likely play Sunday. When asked if he felt like he would be 100%, he said this:
Hilton isn’t really a trash talker and doesn’t have a lot to say usually. When he has talked himself up in the past, he usually backs it up. Leading up to a game against the Chargers during 2016 (his last season where Luck was under center) Hilton had been a nonfactor. He told the media he needed to step up and all he did was have 8 catches for 174 yards and a touchdown.
I say all that to say that the Colts right now often go as T.Y. Hilton goes. I don’t expect those kinds of yards from him, but Luck has been getting better and better each week, and I expect this week will continue that process.
The Bills defense is too good to be abused, but I think the Colts will find some success moving the ball and the defense will be able to cause Derek Anderson some problems. I expect a Colts win, 24-17 at home in a game they really need.