Colts aim to build on historic turnaround
QB Luck, head coach Reich foster optimism
A healthy quarterback and an opportunistic first-year coach led the Colts on a historic midseason turnaround, ending with a playoff run and a glimpse into a potentially promising future.
“We left our hearts on the field every game,” quarterback Andrew Luck said Sunday, a day after a 31-13 elimination loss at Kansas City. “I know we all wished we played better yesterday. It’s sad. We wanted this somewhat magical season to continue and we’ll use that to motivate us.”
Most figured the Colts hit rock bottom when Josh Mcdaniels backed out of a deal to become the Colts’ new coach while Luck continued to rehab his throwing shoulder in early February. General manager Chris Ballard wasted no time in making Frank Reich, the offensive coordinator for the Super Bowl champion Eagles, his second choice.
The odd sequence included Reich inheriting a defensive coordinator in Matt Eberflus, who he didn’t know much about and was already plotting a conversion from a 3-4 front to a 4-3. Reich followed the advice of Ballard by keeping him in the same role and adding two more first-year coordinators to his staff.
To outsiders, it looked like a complete rebuild.
But the Colts never bought into the perception and delivered the kind of season nobody thought possible when they lost their fourth in a row in midoctober.
That’s when things changed. Luck rounded into form, the Colts developed a balanced attack, their revamped offensive line became a virtual fortress and the oft-criticized defense suddenly emerged as one of the league’s stingiest units.
The Colts (11-7) won nine of their last 10 regular-season games to become the third team in league history to make the postseason after starting 1-5, followed by a wild-card win at Houston.
Luck threw for nearly 4,600 yards and 39 touchdowns while setting career highs in completions, attempts and percentage. He was sacked a league-low 18 times, one season after the Colts allowed a league-high 56 sacks. Officiating history: Sarah thomas is the first woman to work an nfl playoff game as an on-field official. thomas was the down judge in Sunday’s divisional round game between new england and the Los Angeles Chargers. that’s a first, according to the league’s twitter account. thomas was hired in 2015 and was already the league’s first female full-time official. terri Valenti was the replay official in Saturday’s playoff game between the Chiefs and Colts, also a first.
Obituary: miami dolphins guard Bob Kuechenberg, a six-time Pro Bowl selection and member of the only team to achieve a perfect season, has died at age 71. the former notre dame standout spent his entire nfl career with the dolphins from 1970 to 1983. He started every game for the team that went 17-0 in 1972, and started 16 games for the team that repeated as Super Bowl champions in 1973.