Ahead of their Sunday matchup, the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles share a connected history over the last few years.
Over the past few seasons, the Indianapolis Colts and the Philadelphia Eagles have been connected with coaches and players alike, which has helped shape both franchises, for better or worse. Coaches like Frank Reich and Nick Sirianni, where the former came from Philadelphia, and the latter went to Philadelphia. Players like Rodney McLeod and Zach Pascal, where the former came to Indianapolis, and the latter left Indianapolis this season.
Jeff Saturday recently took over the helm for the Colts but Reich’s fingerprints are still on this offense. Parks Frasier called a fantastic game on Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders en route to Saturday’s first win of his career as a coach. Frasier was a close assistant to Reich and used most of the same ideas and philosophy in his first game calling the plays. Let’s take a look at the history between these two teams.
Coach connections between Colts and Eagles
First, for the Philadelphia Eagles. Nick Sirianni took over the team in 2021 after spending the previous three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. While he was the offensive coordinator in the Hoosier State, his offense ranked in the top 10 in points and yards in two of his three seasons. In his final season in Indianapolis (2020), his offense ranked 10th in yards and ninth in points. He got to utilize Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr. in their rookie seasons.
Now he finds himself in the city of brotherly love, getting to work with Jalen Hurts, AJ Brown, and DeVonta Smith in a high-powered offense. In his first season as head coach, he led this team to a 9-8 finish, resulting in a loss in their first playoff game. This offense ranked first in rushing touchdowns and rushing yards. This season, the Eagles were the last undefeated team and currently ranked fourth in total yards, third in points, and first in rushing touchdowns.
On the other side, Jeff Saturday only has one game on his coaching resume at the professional level. Although he’ll get his chance to cement a coaching history against the Eagles, he does have a playing history against Philadelphia. During his 14-year playing career, 13 with the Indianapolis Colts, Saturday faced the Eagles four times, all while wearing the blue and white. He posted a 3-1 record against Philadelphia, losing his most recent matchup in 2010 24-26.
Parks Frasier is also Eagles adjacent being extremely close to Frank Reich. Frasier shares a lot of the same perspectives and philosophies on offense with Reich and a lot of that stems from his time in Philadelphia. Frasier joined Reich when he came to Indianapolis in 2018. Plus, Reich was just let go two weeks ago. His fingerprints are still largely on this team and offense strengthening the connection between the Colts and Eagles.
Player connections between Colts and Eagles
Looking at this year specifically, both teams have players that have experience on the other sideline. Looking at the Philadelphia Eagles, there are a few players on their roster that used to play in Indianapolis. Defensive back Andre Chachere was on the Colts’ roster briefly before being waived in September 2021. The Eagles picked him up and he has since played 16 games last season and four so far this season.
Another face that Indy fans should recognize is Zach Pascal. After playing a crucial receiving role for the Colts when they were looking for someone to step up, he decided to spread his wings and go to the Eagles. In his last season in Indianapolis, Pascal caught 38 of his 69 targets for 384 yards over the course of 16 games. Since joining Philadelphia, Pascal has only appeared in nine games, starting only one, catching 10 of his 12 targets for 114 yards.
The Indianapolis Colts have two players with connections to the Eagles as well. The obvious connection is Nick Foles who began his career in Philadelphia in 2012. He spent the next two seasons there, making the Pro Bowl in his second season, before being traded to the then-St. Louis Rams. He spent one season with the Rams before being signed by the Kansas City Chiefs in the following season. He then turned his focus back to the Eagles where he spent the next two seasons.
During that time he spelled Carson Wentz, another former Indianapolis Colts quarterback, in 2017, leading the Eagles to a Super Bowl championship and was named the Super Bowl MVP. This was under Frank Reich as well coordinating the offense. Four seasons and three stops later he finds himself with the Colts backing up Matt Ryan and Sam Ehlinger.
The other familiar face for the Philly faithful is safety Rodney McLeod. After playing his first four seasons in St. Louis, he turned to the Eagles in 2016 and remained there until this season. Every season in Philadelphia, he started every game he played in. Now he turns his focus to the Indianapolis Colts defense where he has had an interesting journey. After playing second fiddle to rookie Nick Cross he has since taken over the starting role recording eight starts, one interception, and 51 combined tackles.
How have Colts and Eagles benefited from this relationship?
Both teams have gone through vast changes since they started to develop a history with each other. Looking at the Eagles first, since Nick Sirianni came to town the team has been on the rise. Sirianni took over in 2021 after a disappointing 2020 season under longtime head coach Doug Pederson. The 2020 Eagles finished 4-11-1, 4th place in the NFC East. Sirianni brought Philadelphia to above .500 at 9-8, 2nd place in the NFC East. His rushing offense ranked first in yards and touchdowns as well as second in attempts.
Jalen Hurts did ok during this season but has exploded this season under Sirianni’s tutelage. Hurts led the offense to an 8-1 record this season, the last undefeated team in the league. This high-flying offense has not scored less than 20 points in a game this season and ranks third in points scored with 246. He has a large hand in that throwing for over 2,000 yards, 14 passing touchdowns, and only three interceptions in nine games. His running ability has shown out as well rushing for over 350 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Eagles have a direction and are all in on Hurts. They surrounded him with weapons this offseason giving him DeVonta Smith, AJ Brown, and Dallas Goedert to throw to. On the ground, they have Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell to create a play-action threat. Philadelphia has a veteran offensive line and defense that can contain the opponent and give their offense a chance to succeed.
The Indianapolis Colts have been worse for wear after getting Frank Reich. First off, he was the second choice to Josh McDaniel, which may have been the better move in that scenario. Reich was heralded as the quarterback whisperer but that is arguably the single position the Colts have struggled with the most during his tenure. They started out with Andrew Luck, then Jacoby Brissett, then Philip Rivers, then Reich’s personal project Carson Wentz, and now Matt Ryan/Sam Ehlinger.
This offense has also struggled to utilize its resources in Jonathan Taylor and has let the offensive line slip to where now it can’t protect the quarterback. Jeff Saturday seemed to command the team better in his first game, but the team still lacks direction. Without a franchise quarterback, the team will continue to lack direction. Currently, there is nothing to build around, and by the time they get there, their talent on defense will begin to age off. The Eagles definitely come out ahead in the connected history between these two franchises.