The Journal Gazette
Thursday, September 20, 2018 1:00 am

Colts' coach should know plenty about Eagles

MICHAEL MAROT | Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS – Frank Reich has the inside track on Philadelphia.

He coached the quarterbacks, helped construct one of the league's most innovative offenses and worked closely with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz before leaving for Indianapolis in February.

On Sunday, the Colts are hoping Reich's knowledge could give them a leg up on the defending Super Bowl champs this weekend.

“Nothing too dramatic, a few things here and there,” Reich said when asked about this week's conversations with defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus.

“Not anything that would be over the top. My experience is if you say too much it just confuses the matter. So you give a few personnel things, a few philosophical things, maybe one or two things to look for and then you let our defense play the way we've been playing.”

Of course, Reich downplays the significance of this weekend's reunion. Most coaches do.

But Reich's third game as a head coach will be a big deal.

It was in Philadelphia where Reich went from rising assistant to head coaching candidate after spending two seasons with coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Carson Wentz, who is expected to make his season debut Sunday.

It was in Philadelphia where Reich finally put his fingers on the Super Bowl ring that eluded him so many other places.

It was in Philadelphia where Reich turned down interviews so he could focus solely on winning playoff games with Nick Foles following Wentz's season-ending knee injury.

And it was in Philadelphia where he finally got the Colts' phone call after Josh McDaniels reneged on a commitment to become head coach.

Neither Reich nor his players see much point in making this game bigger than it needs to be.

“I didn't even think about that (Reich's return),” quarterback Andrew Luck said Wednesday. “I don't think anyone in this locker room needs extra motivation to win a game for him. I mean I think our guys are hungry to play. Yeah, that would be special, that would be special, that would be cool.”

Reich already has given the Colts (1-1) a fresh perspective.

They are off to their best start since 2013 and Luck has looked like his old self in an offense that, not so surprisingly, resembles the Eagles'.

Four-time Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton is off to his best start as he lines up in multiple spots. Running backs Marlon Mack and Jordan Wilkins delivered a one-two punch last week that was reminiscent of Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement. Nyheim Hines possesses natural versatility, like Darren Sproles, and the Colts' tight ends are being asked to do more, too.

Eberflus, who faced the Eagles twice a year while coaching previously in Dallas, has the Colts defense clicking, too.

Rookie linebacker Darius Leonard was selected as the AFC's defensive player of the week Wednesday after getting 18 tackles in the 21-9 winy at Washington.

Eberflus can always seek additional advice from linebacker Najee Goode, a free-agent signee who played with the Eagles last season.

The Eagles know all about the potential pitfalls in facing their former offensive coordinator and are planning accordingly.

“He (Reich) knows, obviously, our structure offensively, what we try to do, how we attack things and maybe even some of the terminology and verbiage. So, we have to be careful there,” Pederson said.

“At the same time, we can't change everything. There is some similarity, but at the same time we're aware of it. We are looking forward to seeing him again on Sunday and welcoming him back to Philadelphia.”

Notes: Jonathan DeTommaso from Fort Wayne was the recipient of two tickets to Sunday's game at Lincoln Financial Field, as well as airfare for two to Philadelphia as winner of a contest to promote Fort Wayne Airport's non-stop service to Philadelphia on American Airlines. ... Indianapolis signed running back Jeremy McNichols to the practice squad, released quarterback Phillip Walker from the practice squad and waived running back Josh Ferguson from the injured reserve list. ... Team owner Jim Irsay and his family have donated $100,000 to the Wheeler Mission to help the local charity expand the Center for Women & Children, which provides emergency shelter and long-term programs for homeless women and women with children. 


at Philadelphia

When: 1 p.m. Sunday

Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia

TV: Fox

Radio: 1190 AM

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