Frank Reich smiled a lot when he was hired, and has smiled less and less as the years went by. Now, in the almost certain final stage of his time as Colts head coach, the smile is entirely gone – replaced with a bizarre message of false hope.
There are moments when you suspect the team you cheer for sucks, and then the moment comes when it is confirmed.
Yesterday, both came for Colts fans. The 24-0 shellacking at the hands of a bad team got fans angry as they pondered the likelihood of another disappointing season. Then coach Frank Reich put the cherry on top of the crap sundae, “…as pathetic as that was today, where that is and where we need to be, the distance is not that far. It’s not that far because we’ve got the guys, the players, and coaches to do it.”
There it is. The last resort of all hot seated coaches – the hopeful reach that defies all reason, logic, and reality. Reich tried to talk himself into believing four consecutive dreary and noncompetitive performances was not evidence of an arhythmic chorus of fatal flaws.
Reich will continue to sound like a lunatic as he espouses unreasonable optimism during multiple media avails this week prior to facing the Kansas City Chiefs in a home opener that appears on paper to have the potential to be the final act of a wretched drama. Reich will talk about looking at the film and seeing how the loss to the Jags pivoted on five or six plays – where if a single player had executed better, they would have been right there.
There is another option available to Reich. Honesty – unvarnished, ill-tempered honesty! He could go off like Mount Mora, spewing expletives and venting anger all over the place. If the Colts lose Sunday, he could put the fans on blast as Lee Elia did in 1983 during he very short era as Cubs manager. Of course, that isn’t the way Reich is wired, so he will stay positive and classy as the wind from the ax tingles his neck.
Two games in, no one expected this debacle. We discussed the possibility of yet another slow start, but failing to beat either the Texans or Jaguars on the road – or anywhere in the known universe – was unthinkable. How would the Colts not dig deep and be emotionally ready after so experiencing the season ending thud in January when a win could have flung the Colts into the playoffs?
So we await the inevitable as Reich flails against the rip current of passive mediocrity. It could come today, tomorrow, next week, or in January, but rest assured the end will come. Once feckless football starts, there is almost nothing that can stop it. Losing continues to happen for the same reason it happened to begin with – until finally that reason is corrected. It could be the entire roster, a position group or two, or the coach and his staff, but the easiest to isolate and correct is the coach, and so it is his head offered to appease the football gods and rabid fans.
That is as it has been and shall always be. Regardless of reality, hope must be preserved and sold to the ticket buying public. The guy currently in charge of force-feeding it to us sounds more deranged with every utterance, so he must be replaced by a new voice – one fans trust.
It’s nice when an NFL franchise’s chief salesman can make his case without sounding ridiculous. The mood of the building is better – and so is the mood of the city. The football might not improve, but the messaging will.
There is, of course, the unlikely scenario that the roster starts to ball out and saves Reich’s job. If that was going to happen, his Colts would have shown out before now. And I’ve never heard a coach talk about distance from grotesque to great who then turned it around and survived. A successful eleventh hour appeal would require a total pivot of reality, and those don’t come along very often.
At the end of his damning answer about the distance not being too far, he said, “I know that doesn’t play in the outside world, and I’m fine with that. We’ll take our medicine. I’ll take my medicine, and we’ll just keep doing what we do.”
What Reich is going to learn is that it is the outside world that matters.