» Reich opened up with a statement addressing his thoughts on the racial injustices and protests happening across the country:
“Injustice — few things stir the human heart and soul like injustice,” Reich said. “When we see it, feel it, experience it, it is heart-wrenching. It is not enough for a person who looks like me to say, ‘I’m not racist.’ This kind of talk and thinking typically lends itself to a posture of neutrality, indifference and passivity. It is easy to be silent and do nothing when it doesn’t directly impact you. This attitude simply doesn’t evoke any conviction about doing what is right and standing up for the inherent dignity and rights of all people no matter the color of their skin.
“I stand firmly behind the Colts’ statement and in particular, the phrase that says, ‘We abhor racism,'” Reich continued. “Racism is vile, deplorable, detestable. There is no form of it that is acceptable and in no way can it be justified. Our black community has bore the brunt of this injustice far too long. I believe that I, we, all have a personal responsibility to speak up and to act in ways that build each other up, not tear each other down. I believe each one of us can make a difference if we are willing to grow personally, and display the courage necessary for us to take steps of progress in this most important of issues.
“I just felt compelled to make a statement. I spent some time writing and just wanted to share personally,” Reich concluded. “I know we issued an organizational statement, but I spent some time thinking and writing a statement that would reflect my own personal views, and I just cannot be silent. I want to be proactive and so, I want to do my part and feel responsible.”
Reich said general manager Chris Ballard and himself spoke to the team on Thursday, but with all the raw emotions involved, that the line of communication will continue to be open with his players and staff.
“That is part of for me to have a growth mindset, for me to help understand the issue better, for me to know what to say and how to act I just think requires being uncomfortable, making phone calls and asking people how they are feeling,” Reich said.
» Reich doesn’t see the Colts’ coaching staff returning to the team facility anytime soon: The COVID-19 pandemic created the need for everybody who normally works at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center — and at NFL facilities across the league — to work from home until various health restrictions could be lifted.
And even though the Colts have taken a deliberate approach to the re-opening of their facility to non-football staffers the past couple weeks, Reich said that members of his coaching staff will likely remain at their respective homes until players are allowed to return; the directive involving when players can return hasn’t been communicated by the league as of yet.
“At this point right now I’m not thinking the coaches are coming back,” Reich said. “Without the players there, we’re in a rhythm and a mode where we don’t think we need to disrupt that. There are other limitations on being in the building and the number of people that can be in the building. So it has a domino effect and I feel like right now we are in a pretty good rhythm. So until we get other information or other instructions – right now I think we are in a good rhythm.”
Only a couple weeks remain in the Colts’ virtual offseason workout program; beyond that, the team usually takes about a six-week break between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp. Stay tuned for any possible developments regarding this year’s training camp.
» Reich believes 2020 is “a huge year” for tight end Mo Alie-Cox: The Colts this offseason replaced tight end Eric Ebron, who signed a free-agent deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers, with a free agent in their own in Trey Burton, who has plenty of experience working within Reich’s system from their days together with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Burton’s signing could very well help offset some of the production the team will be losing at the position with Ebron’s departure, but not to be lost in that equation is Alie-Cox, the team’s third tight end.
Alie-Cox, who is entering really just his fourth year in football in 2020 after playing basketball at VCU, has developed into a trusted blocker in the run game the last two seasons for the Colts, but Reich sees even more of a role being carved out for the 6-foot-5, 267-pound Alie-Cox moving forward.
“He brings an element of what a ‘Y’ tight end brings – strength at the point of attack,” Reich said. ?For us to run the ball like we want to run the ball this year, I envision Mo is going to play a big role in that. He’s going to get more playing time than he got last year. He’s continued to develop and get better.”
Reich said Alie-Cox’s biggest jump in 2019 was his work as a route runner. He had just eight total receptions for 93 yards, but those strides could pay dividends in a more wide-open offense in 2020.
“When Mo catches a crossing route, no one wants to catch him or if he catches a check down, he’s such a big man,” Reich said. “He has his own way of being effective as a pass receiver.
“I think his footwork and his routes developed significantly in the past year so I’m excited for what Mo can do this year.”
» The addition of Mike Groh as wide receivers coach is already paying dividends: Reich made a couple key changes and additions to the Colts’ coaching staff this offseason to help get more production out of the passing game; among them, he hired Groh, formerly the wide receivers coach with the Eagles, Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears, to that position in Indy, and created a position for former wide receivers coach Kevin Patullo as pass game specialist.
While there’s always the caveat of “we really have to wait and see until we can work with the players on the field,” Reich is certainly encouraged by the Groh and Patullo roles to this point of the offseason program — and what they add on top of offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni’s expertise.
“I think it’s worked even faster and better than I envisioned it,” Reich said. “It’s just going to help us as an offense because not only do they all three have expert qualities as far as coaching receivers, but they all three have expert minds in the passing game.
“I know we talk a lot about our run game, but I just think our pass game is just going to take another step this year, I really do.”
As for Groh, specifically, Reich said he’s “strong in the classroom, he’s a really good teacher, but I think his strongest point is out on the field with the players.”
Reich is eagerly awaiting the chance for his newest position coach to do what he does best.
“He’s a former quarterback,” Reich said of Groh. “He connects with receivers well on the field. I love his drill work. I love how technical and detailed he is on the field, working with guys and pushing guys. His coaching demeaner on the field is really strong. He really demands a lot of the players, sets the bar very high and tends to coach guys pretty hard but in the appropriate way. I think he’s going to help our players. I think our players will respect him because I know he respects our players. I think it will be a good dynamic.”