Colts: Don’t judge Frank Reich on Philip Rivers’ struggles

Colts fans shouldn’t judge head coach Frank Reich on quarterback Philip Rivers’ struggles.

The Indianapolis Colts have been the talk of the NFL in the wake of their Week 5 loss to Cleveland, in which quarterback Philip Rivers reminded everybody why he’s never been named an MVP or made it to a Super Bowl.

Their decision to sign Rivers for $25 million (!) last offseason over other potential stopgap options like Cam Newton or even Andy Dalton, who are making considerably less than him, looks increasingly foolish with each passing week, and you can’t help but question what Indianapolis’ ceiling is in 2020 with him under center. At this rate, an early playoff exit seems like the best-case scenario for this incredibly talented team, and that is the epitome of disheartening.

Through five games, Rivers is one of four quarterbacks in the NFL with more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (four) and he currently ranks 23rd among qualified gunslingers with a 57.6 QBR. One could certainly argue that the Colts would be undefeated if they had a signal caller who didn’t take as many risks as Rivers — he turned the ball over a combined four times in both of their losses.

Rivers’ glaring struggles have seen head coach Frank Reich come under some criticism for defending him after the Week 5 defeat, and understandably so. However, the 58-year-old admirably walked back those comments in his latest presser and it would be wrong for Colts fans to judge him based on his quarterback’s woeful run.

If there’s anyone to blame for the state of this Colts team, it’s general manager Chris Ballard, who ultimately made the decision to sign Rivers back in March. Given their relationship — they spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons together in San Diego — Reich likely had a say in the signing, but let’s reserve judgment until Indianapolis identifies its quarterback of the future.

Rivers wasn’t brought in to be the long-term answer under center, so his struggles should have no bearing on Reich’s outlook as the coach. The former longtime offensive coordinator showed enough last year in the wake of Andrew Luck’s retirement that proved he’s fit to be the leader of the Colts. For those who don’t remember, he had the team in playoff contention for most of the season before a four-game losing streak from Weeks 12 to 15 derailed their compelling underdog story.

Not even an offensive guru like Reich is capable of concealing Rivers debilitating flaws. When you couple the seismic decline of his arm strength and mobility, the latter of which he never really had to begin with, with his historically maddening decision-making, there is simply no fixing him.

We understand that Colts Nation had lofty expectations for this team coming into the year, but they aren’t going anywhere as long as Rivers is under contract, and blaming Reich for this unfortunate reality is delusional.