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WESTFIELD Cody Eakin Jersey , Ind. (AP) Frank Reich might not have been the Indianapolis Colts‘ first choice as head coach.
Turns out, he might be the better fit anyway.
Just three days into training camp, the 56-year-old former quarterback has injected energy, enthusiasm and excitement into a team desperately needing to change directions after three straight seasons of missing the playoffs.
”I think he brings a really neat perspective,” Andrew Luck said this week. ”He’s certainly had an amazing career as a player and has done an amazing job as a coach. I’ve really enjoyed talking to him, learning from him, talking with him and figuring out what the best course of action is in many different arenas.”
The new tandem is just getting started.
Throughout the first two public workouts in suburban Indianapolis, Luck and Reich have been conversing regularly as Luck learns his fourth offense in seven pro seasons.
But Reich does more than just talk.
He’s innovative, passionate and personable, and players seem to respect the unique journey Reich took to his first head coaching gig.
After graduating from Maryland, he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills and joined a cast of future Hall of Famers while playing for the only team to appear in four straight Super Bowls.
His coaching career began when another Hall of Famer, Tony Dungy, hired Reich as an intern with the Colts in 2006. Peyton Manning earned his first championship ring that season, though Reich did not receive one.
In 2009, Reich was promoted to quarterbacks coach as Manning captured his fourth MVP Award, led the Colts to a 14-0 start and another AFC title.
Then after stints in Arizona and San Diego where he worked directly with Larry Fitzgerald and Philip Rivers, Reich was named the Philadelphia Eagles‘ offensive coordinator in 2016 and finally picked up the elusive ring when Nick Foles beat New England in February.
Even before he replaced injured Bills quarterback Jim Kelly in the 1992 playoffs and overcame a 32-point deficit to complete the largest comeback in NFL history Sam Gagner Jersey , Reich threw three second-half TD passes in relief of Stan Gelbaugh and led the Terrapins back from a 31-poinnt deficit to beat highly-ranked Miami in 1984. At the time, it was the largest comeback in major college football history and still ranks No. 3.
”The backup role has suited me well in my career,” Reich joked at his introductory news conference in February.
The Colts are counting on him to do it again, this time in the family tradition.
His father was a football coach, his mother coached sports and his brother, Joe, is entering his 18th season as head coach at Division II Wingate University in North Carolina.
And Reich may need all of his expertise to turn things around in Indy.
He inherits a young roster that has more questions than answers, a team the outside world believes will be among the worst in the league and one that was spurned by its top coaching choice, New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, shortly after the Patriots season-ending loss.
So instead of McDaniels, general manager Chris Ballard brought in a reigning champion who understood the organization, who helped Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz put himself in the MVP conversation in just his second NFL season and who refused to take a single interview until Philadelphia’s season was over.
He didn’t care what the critics said then about the Colts, and he doesn’t care now.
”I see and hear the chatter, but we don’t focus too much on that,” he said, referring to one projection of a two-win season. ”That is, I guess Tyler Johnson Jersey , a little bulletin board material, but for the most part, it’s about believing in one another. I’ve seen what we’ve done. I’ve seen the kind of players we have. I just have a lot of confidence in who we have here.”
The players like what they have in this coach, too.
Reich, for instance, remembers what it’s like to play the game and can provide perspective and stories about his own NFL experiences including a surgical procedure he had on his shoulder following his retirement in 1998 that was similar to what Luck endured in January 2017.
”He certainly is a sounding board for all of us quarterbacks,” Luck said. ”I think he’s also a great teacher. The best coaches have always been the best teachers. He does a fantastic job of that.”
Reich’s frank, succinct assessments have been a big hit, too.
He’s made no secret of his personal expectations: The Colts must work hard, be prepared, play with discipline and finish games. He also encourages players to be themselves, a combination that led free agent tight end Eric Ebron to Indianapolis and could bring more help to Indy in the future.
”Frank is just Frank, he always just keeps it real,” Ebron said. ”That’s what I like about him.”
Brian Dawkins transformed from a calm, soft-spoken man into an action hero on game days for 16 seasons in the NFL.
Following what seemed like an out-of-body experience during pregame introductions, ”Weapon X” terrorized opponents with ferocious hits all over the field. Dawkins redefined the safety position by providing excellent pass coverage, strong run support Womens Connor Hellebuyck Jersey , and the ability to blitz quarterbacks.
A fan of the ”Wolverine” Marvel comic, Dawkins played like a safety, cornerback, linebacker and defensive lineman in one package. No. 20 was the heart and soul on defense for the Philadelphia Eagles during the team’s impressive run of success in the 2000s. His unique skills helped Dawkins become the first defensive back in franchise history elected into the Hall of Fame.
Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact no football player who passed through a city known for its passion and toughness was more revered than Dawkins. He has a special bond with the fans.
”They’re crazy. They’re twisted in some ways. But I love them, because there are a lot of parts of me that are twisted in a lot of different ways,” Dawkins said. ”That’s why I did some of the crazy stuff on the field that I did. So we fit like hand in glove.
”I believe if a Philadelphia Eagles fan had a chance to play, I believe the majority of them, if not all of them, would play the game the way that I played it. They would dance, they would be having a good time, and they would go out and enjoy the opportunity to be on the football field and show it and not be afraid to show their emotions, to play with passion and give everything that they have, because that would be the only chance that they would ever get to play the game of football, and that’s how I played. I played with a chip on my shoulder. I wanted to have a good time. I danced. I celebrated after plays. I celebrated with my teammates, and they saw that.”
Dawkins was a four-time All-Pro and went to the Pro Bowl seven times in 13 seasons with the Eagles. He made two more Pro Bowl rosters in three seasons for the Denver Broncos.
Dawkins played in five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl, a 24-21 loss to the New England Patriots following the 2004 season. He had 37 interceptions, 36 forced fumbles and 26 sacks in 224 regular-season games.
His crushing hit on Atlanta’s Alge Crumpler was the defining moment in Philadelphia’s 27-10 victory over the Falcons that sent the team to its second Super Bowl appearance.
”That was kind of a tone setter for what the game was going to be about Womens Jake Gardiner Jersey ,” Dawkins said. ”It was going to be a physical contest. We knew that going into it. We talked about it all week long. It just so happened that Alge got the brunt of that blow when it comes to the frustration and anger I felt.”
A second-round pick from Clemson in 1996, Dawkins moved into the starting lineup as a rookie under coach Ray Rhodes. He thrived after Andy Reid replaced Rhodes in 1999 and brought defensive coordinator Jim Johnson to Philly.
Dawkins credits Johnson for finding different ways to use his talents.
”With Jim and his imagination and his willingness to go away from some traditional thinking when it comes to the safety position, he allowed me and my gifts (to shine),” Dawkins said. ”Jim just opened the floodgates. He would draw up different blitzes. We worked together when it came to those things. Without him using me the way he used me, I still would have had a good career. But if you look at my ability to affect the game in pretty much every statistical category, that had a lot to do with Jim running the defense through me a lot of times. That’s unheard of for a defensive coordinator to run a defense through a safety.”
Former teammate Troy Vincent, a five-time Pro Bowl cornerback, will present Dawkins for induction on stage at the Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday night. Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, called it a ”great honor” to present his good friend.
”There are so many factors that go into B-Dawk the man that complemented his football instincts and athleticism,” Vincent said. ”His non-negotiables of faith, family and football made him one of the fiercest competitors in the history of the game. His dedication to his wife and children, his non-wavering love for Jesus Christ, and his all-out commitment to excellence served as an inspiring example to our teammates and to those watching.”
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