Colts Fire Frank Reich: Reaction, Impact, Replacements, and What’s Next for Indianapolis?

The Indianapolis Colts have fired Frank Reich midway through his fifth season as head coach. What's next for the team and who are some potential replacements?

Frank Reich is out as coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Jim Irsay on Monday decided to fire Reich midway through his fifth season, another disappointing year that featured yet another major mistake at quarterback.

Reich won’t get another chance to get it right. He’s out of a job after a 40-33-1 regular season stint in Indianapolis. Irsay announced Jeff Saturday, the former Colts player and current head coach of Hebron Christian Academy, will serve as the team’s interim coach.

Why Did The Colts Fire Frank Reich?

It’s pretty simple: Reich repeatedly bungled the most important decision a head coach makes. Quarterback play has been a disaster in recent years, with the team’s ill-conceived acquisition of Matt Ryan in 2022 the apparent final straw.

Since the start of the 2021 season, the Colts are 24th in dropback EPA (-.01) despite investing a combined first and two third-round picks and nearly $50 million in salary on Ryan and Carson Wentz.

They were both disasters, as evidenced by Reich’s decision to start Sam Ehlinger in the last two weeks. That also was a mistake, but it probably didn’t change much.

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The Colts have a good defense but a completely broken offense. They’re last in scoring (14.7 points per game) and 30th in yards per play (4.8) and per carry (3.7).

Put it all together, and the Colts are 3-5-1, a pipe dream to make the playoffs, and in serious need of a reboot. That process began Tuesday. But won’t end until the Colts finally find their long-term answer at quarterback.

– Adam H. Beasley

Outlook for Remainder of 2022 Season

The Colts don’t have an answer at quarterback and can’t seem to get their offensive line together. Even Quenton Nelson is having a difficult time putting together a good season, much less the less-talented members of that unit.

While we can typically expect a bump in performance when a new coach comes in – in part because of regression and in part because of the new working environment – we shouldn’t see the Colts seriously threaten the teams on their schedule who still have a lot to play for.

Sam Ehlinger can’t dig the team out of their predicament, and any new coach who wants to reverse the decision to Matt Ryan will probably be disappointed in what they get.

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As important as Jeff Saturday has been to the Colts franchise, it’s hard to believe that somebody with virtually zero coaching experience has the capability to isolate all the problems plaguing the Colts and or the means to fix them.

It could be the case that the defense improves, but former defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus really did seem to be the straw that stirred the drink in their defensive setup. It is a talented defense with some good results – they rank seventh in points allowed per drive – but not talented enough to drag an unwilling offense into wins.

They still have the Eagles, Chargers, Cowboys, Vikings, and Giants left to play on their schedule, and it’s tough to see them come out of those games with a win. Instead, their best chances are the games against the Raiders, Steelers, and Texans – and if they win one or two of those games, nothing really changes for the 3-5-1 squad.

Perhaps the season will be more about the development of their most interesting young players, like Alec Pierce, Bernhard Raimann, Kwity Paye, Kylen Granson, and Jelani Woods. If they can get some good performances out of them in the back half of the season, they might be able to salvage something out of this mid-season firing.

– Arif Hasan

Draft Impact for Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts roster construction, aside from the revolving door at quarterback, has always been more a product of Chris Ballard than Frank Reich.

The Colts’ roster has deteriorated over recent seasons, so there is a chance Ballard joins Reich when the season is all said and done.

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However, if he does survive, it will be fascinating to see if he continues to stick with the specific molds of draft prospects he’s drafted during his tenure or if he will work more closely with whoever Indianapolis hires.

One thing is certain; the Colts absolutely must hit on a quarterback soon, or Ballard will be looking for work elsewhere.

– Dalton Miller

Potential Replacements for Frank Reich

By firing Reich now, the Colts can get a headstart on their 2023 head coaching search. Indy will hope to avoid the drama that surrounded their last coaching exploration when Josh McDaniels initially accepted the top job before backing out. Here are the top candidates to replace Reich in Indianapolis.

Sean Payton, Free Agent

If the Colts want to take a big swing, Payton is the most prominent coaching candidate on the market. Indy will presumably need to draft and develop a franchise quarterback, and there’s no better potential teacher than Payton, who consistently schemed effective offenses with the Saints.

However, Payton may have other suitors in 2023. He’s reportedly not interested in the Panthers’ job, but other clubs will have an interest. If Payton has multiple options, he may not want to take over a team that’s facing a rebuild like the Colts.

DeMeco Ryans, San Francisco 49ers DC

After going with an offensive head coach the last time around, the Colts might choose the defensive route in 2023. Ryans took over San Francisco’s defense in 2021 and maintained its elite status. Former 49er DeForest Buckner and linebacker Shaquille Leonard could be given new life in a defense that has Ryans’ fingerprints all over it.

Dan Quinn, Dallas Cowboys DC

Quinn has arguably been the most impressive coordinator in the NFL over the last two seasons. He’s shown scheme flexibility and game-to-game malleability, and he’s helped turned Micah Parsons into a star. Quinn posted a 43-42 record as head coach of the Falcons from 2015-20.

Shane Steichen, Philadelphia Eagles OC

Steichen has led the transformation of the Eagles’ offense over the past two years. Philadelphia turned run-heavy in the back half of 2021, while Jalen Hurts looks like an MVP candidate this season. Steichen is a former Reich underling, so the Colts may want to go in a different direction, but the Eagles’ OC has been outstanding.

Mike Kafka, New York Giants OC

Kafka is in his first season as a play-caller, but he’s already showing results. The Giants are 6-2 and squarely in the playoff hunt, and they keep winning games despite their utter lack of receivers. Kafka has gotten the most out of Daniel Jones, and that’s enough to get him on the head coaching interview circuit.

– Dallas Robinson

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