Reich has to be among the top two candidates for this honour following the job he has done in his first head coaching position in the NFL.
This is despite not being the first choice for the job, which controversially became available again after New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels accepted, then backed out of, the position. Reich wasn’t even on the first list of candidates interviewed by new Colts general manager Chris Ballard.
Despite this, Reich had the Colts 7th in the league in total offense (yards per game) this season, compared to 31st out of 32 teams in the 2017 regular season. Now as a qualifying point, the Colts were without franchise quarterback Andrew Luck for all of last season due to shoulder surgery.
However, that might also add to Reich’s claim for Coach of the Year. All last season and during the offseason there was a lot of concern about how well Luck would recover from his operation.
The offensive line, a continuing problem during the previous regime of Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano, has given up the least amount of sacks in the league; whilst the run game has helped take some of the pressure off Luck. This is without any highly expensive additions on the offensive-line or at any of the offensive skill positions.
In fact, the most notable addition on offense was Eric Ebron who many considered a first round bust following his release from the Lions. Ebron became a dangerous red zone weapon for the Colts catching 13 touchdowns and being voted to the Pro Bowl.
The defence has finally improved as well, previously doing little to ease the burden on Luck, though much of that success has been credited to McDaniels holdover Matt Eberflus as defensive coordinator. Nonetheless, Reich is the leader of the whole team, and deserves credit for its successes in the same way as he would be criticised for its failures.
More than all of these significant improvements, Reich deserves consideration for Coach of the Year for leading the Colts to the playoffs despite starting the season 1-5.
Given the fairly unusual way in which he was appointed as head coach and the low expectations of his team, given the weaknesses on the roster, it wouldn’t have been surprising to many if the Colts had ended the season with one of the top overall picks in the draft. To turn the franchise around after that inauspicious start, is a truly remarkable achievement.