Colts head coach Frank Reich defended quarterback Philip Rivers after his woeful performance against Cleveland.
Remember how jubilant fans in Indianapolis were when the Colts signed Philip Rivers to a one-year contract in free agency this past offseason? Though everybody knew he wasn’t the long-term answer under center, he was largely viewed as a solid veteran stopgap option who could game manage his way into the playoffs behind a potent rushing attack and sound defense.
By no means was Rivers playing great leading up to Week 5, but fans and the media were able to stomach giving him a pass as the Colts were churning out wins in spite of his mediocre performances.
Unfortunately for Indianapolis, however, the 38-year-old’s borderline historic proneness to committing turnovers reared its ugly head in the worst way possible during Sunday’s loss to Cleveland, and we’d be lying if we said we didn’t have concerns about him moving forward.
What was just as unbearable? Watching head coach Frank Reich absolve Rivers of any blame for the defeat during the postgame video conference.
"“You lose a game like this, and we all share in it,” Reich told reporters, “Everyone shares in it. Philip is playing really good football. That is the least of my worries. You are going to have mistakes when you get in situations like that. I know we would want the interception back, but the safety is on me.“You take that away and you get that one mistake, in my mind, that was the big factor. That mistake was not the big factor, the safety, but the one big mistake with Philip was the interception. That is it.”"
We love Reich, but he has lost the plot if he thinks Rivers is playing good football right now. The bottom line is that his turnover issue is squarely responsible for both of Indianapolis’ losses this season. You obviously win and lose as a team in the NFL, but who else are we to blame for the defeat? He has more INTs than TDs!
The defense held up well despite being without All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard and a poor first half showing. Take away Rivers’ pick-six and boneheaded safety and the group only surrendered 24 points to a Browns offense, which currently ranks fourth in the NFL with 31.2 points scored per game.
Instead, they were unable to overcome Rivers’ dismal performance and faltered to the tune of a 32-23 defeat. The veteran gunslinger finished 21-of-33 for 243 yards and ZERO touchdowns compared to two entirely avoidable interceptions.
Rivers looked completely rattled when faced with pressure and took a game-changing safety after throwing the ball away (resulting in an intentional grounding penalty) in his own end zone.
A few minutes later, he threw his second interception that came after he avoided a sack and inexplicably tried to force a pass to tight end Mo Alie-Cox, who was quite literally triple-covered in the middle of the field. In no universe did Rivers have a chance at completing this pass.
We hate to come down on Rivers, but that’s a throw you’d expect from a rookie. It was third-and-six at the time and Trey Burton couldn’t have been more open up the sideline near the 40-yard line. He probably didn’t see him and that’s fine, but why not throw it away and pin the Browns deep in their own territory on a punt with the game still within striking distance?
It’d be an entirely different story if Rivers made one maddening mistake early in the game, but that simply wasn’t the case. He made a handful of back-breaking errors that ultimately cost Indianapolis the chance at pulling off an impressive road victory while being undermanned due to injuries, and Reich deserves to be chastised for defending him.
He needs to hold all of his players accountable, and that includes his experienced signal caller.