Colts plan to build off dramatic turnaround
Indianapolis came back from 1-5 start to win wild-card game
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts kept insisting Andrew Luck would play better after shoulder surgery. He did.
Frank Reich acknowledged some his best work came in a backup role. Apparently, It still does.
A healthy Luck 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,” 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.”
That could be bad news for a team that seemed to defy the odds at every turn.
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 Reich, the offensive coordinator for the Super Bowl champion Eagles, his second choice.
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. of
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.
“You wonder as a first time head coach, what is this really going to be like? I just couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams how this year was,” Reich said.
Luck had the best overall season of his career, throwing for nearly 4,600 yards and 39 touchdowns. He was sacked a league-low 18 times, one season after the Colts allowed a leaguehigh 56 sacks.
Reich knows the expectations will increase next season and he promises to be ready.
“We had an opportunity to learn so many lessons this year,” he said. “I think handling success and high expectations is always more difficult but I believe in the guys, the players, the leaders to get that done.”
Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck speaks to the media Sunday. The Colts ended their season with a loss Saturday.