Colts HC Frank Reich described a COVID-19 loophole that QB Philip Rivers has used to his advantage this season.
For as much criticism as Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers has received this season, he hasn’t gotten nearly enough credit for his solid performances. We get that he’s an eight-time Pro Bowler and he should thereby be expected to play well week in and week out, but Chargers fans will back the notion that you simply never know what version of him you’re going to get.
Outside of two awful games, Rivers has been solid for Indianapolis this season. Over the last four fixtures — in which the Colts are 3-1 — he’s completing 66.6% percent of his passes for 1,168 yards and seven touchdowns compared to just two interceptions.
For a 38-year-old quarterback who’s significantly past his prime, fans should be more than satisfied with that production. So, what exactly is the secret behind Rivers flourishing in a new offense that doesn’t exactly boast a ton of dynamic star-power?
Well, during a recent interview with the Indy Star, head coach Frank Reich revealed that not having stadiums at full capacity in 2020 has helped Rivers dissect “KGB tapes,” which (unlike regular film) include sound and make it easier to interpret opposing team’s audibles and signals.
"“You’re able to hear more this year than you’ve ever heard before,” Reich said. “Philip is really good at that. I can’t give you specific examples, but I can tell you there are many specific examples that I could give you because he’s really good at it.”"
We obviously didn’t expect Reich to provide specific examples, but it’s a testament to Rivers’ intelligence that he was able to pick up on this and seemingly become a master at incorporating this knowledge in less than a full season. These television broadcast tapes are always a resource, but this year, they’ve been more helpful than ever.
From shouting fake audibles to throw opposing defenses off the scent, to something as simple as reading how a defense reacts to a motion or signal and being able to counter with time on the play clock to spare because of the lack of stadium noise, there’s no shortage of ways that Rivers can exploit this loophole.
Having a limited capacity of fans allows Rivers the opportunity to bide time and change a play at the last possible second so the defense can’t make the proper adjustments. That would be virtually impossible with a packed stadium of belligerent fans drowning out his instructions.
With a date against the 7-2 Green Bay Packers on deck for Indianapolis, you’d better believe that Rivers will put this newfound trick to full use. After all, Lucas Oil Stadium is hardly the uproarious fortress it was before COVID-19 forced teams to implement safeguards and protocols to help curb the spread of the virus.