Frank Reich 'took to heart' long conversation with Colts owner Jim Irsay after Jaguars loss
INDIANAPOLIS — Jim Irsay had a long talk with Frank Reich after the Colts opened this season with a loss in Jacksonville.
The loss was startling.
A Colts team that has believed throughout this offseason that it belongs in the playoffs had lost to a clearly inferior Jacksonville team. Irsay wanted to talk with his head coach, a conversation he revealed in an impromptu interview after Indianapolis’ 34-31 overtime win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, the first time Irsay has spoken to the local media this season.
Neither Irsay nor Reich revealed the details of the conversation.
“It was a good conversation, I’ll leave it at that,” Irsay said.
But it was a conversation that the third-year coach deeply respected.
“We had a real long conversation,” Reich said. “I’m really so thankful to work for the owner that I work for. This guy, he knows football through and through. There were several things that I’ll keep to myself that he said to me, and I’m not afraid to say this, they were educating me.”
Irsay typically says that his job isn’t to meddle, but to work with Reich and general manager Chris Ballard on the franchise’s biggest decisions.
In that conversation after the Jacksonville game, though, the Colts owner got into a little bit of the nitty-gritty.
“It was at that level, and really freeing me up as a coach,” Reich said. “He had some insightful things about how the play of the game goes. He had some insightful things to say about how to manage the team. He’s seen a lot over the course of his career as the owner of this team.
"I took it to heart.”
One of Reich’s defining characteristics in his two and a half seasons in Indianapolis so far is the way he reacts to adversity, the calm he displays when his back’s against the wall.
Reich’s resolve was apparent again Sunday, in a game the Colts trailed by two touchdowns to a future Hall of Fame quarterback at the half.
As always, Reich remained calm, focused on the process.
“Fourteen points isn’t really that much, to be honest with you,” Reich said. Since Reich took over the Colts, NFL teams were 3-43-1 when trailing by 14 points at halftime prior to Sunday.
An NFL team takes on the personality of its head coach.
Reich’s nerves in the face of a deficit had a calming effect on the locker room.
“I think it starts with Frank and filters down to us,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “There was no panic.”
Irsay emerged from Sunday’s win over the Packers confident in the leadership he’s assembled in Reich and Ballard, the “circle of three” — Irsay being the third — that leads this Colts team.
And he found himself thinking back to that conversation in September.
“Frank is outstanding,” Irsay said. “He’s just a great coach, and obviously a great man. We’re happy to have him. The Horseshoe’s happy to have him, and so is the city, the (state) of Indiana.”