The Indianapolis Colts have their new head coach and it’s a name very familiar with Buffalo Bills fans. Frank Reich, who was drafted by Buffalo in the third round of the 1985 draft and played 93 regular season games for the Bills, is the new head coach of the Colts.
Reich was Jim Kelly’s backup from the moment he entered the league, as Kelly returned from a stint in the USFL at the same time. He saw his first real action in 1989, going 3-0 in replacement of Kelly. Overall, he held a 4-4 regular season record as a starter in Buffalo and accumulated 2540 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions on 222-of-377 passing for a 58.9 completion percentage in nine seasons in Buffalo.
That of course diminishes his impact. As the steadying factor on some wild Super Bowl teams, Reich often acted as a compass to immature Bills. He was a calming factor and always ready for a piece of advice or to step in for an injured Kelly. That was on full display when he led the greatest comeback in NFL history against the Houston Oilers during the Wild Card round of the 1992 NFL Playoffs (in January of 1993). Reich and the Bills rallied from 32 points down in the second half to beat Houston and eventually move on to Super Bowl XXVII. Reich was also efficient the next week and when Kelly was knocked from the Super Bowl, Reich was ready to step in again though this time in a losing effort.
Reich finished his playing career as the first starting quarterback of the expansion Carolina Panthers (led by general manager Bills Polian, the same man who drafted him in Buffalo), eventually yielding to their first overall pick, before seasons with the New York Jets and Detroit Lions.
After his playing career, Reich once again got a call from Polian, this time to join him in Indianapolis with the Colts as a coach. He was Peyton Manning’s quarterback coach under Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell, coaching in the team’s Super Bowl loss to the Saints in 2010. When Caldwell was fired following the 2011 season, Reich landed in Arizona with Ken Whisenhunt and followed Whisenhunt to the Chargers a year later. He was promoted to offensive coordinator for the first time in 2014 and 2015 before moving to the Philadelphia Eagles as the OC, steadily rising the ranks. When the Colts were put in a bind by Josh McDaniels walking away, they turned to an old friend and probably came out on the winning end of the situation.
Reich interviewed for the Bills head coaching job in 2015 which ultimately went to Rex Ryan. He also interviewed in 2017 before Buffalo hired Sean McDermott.
The praise this weekend for Reich has been almost universal and we are so excited for him except when he plays Buffalo, which will happen in the 2018 season.