Colts QB-Philip Rivers throws a pass in a game.
CLEVELAND, OHIO - OCTOBER 11: Philip Rivers #17 of the Indianapolis Colts throws a pass in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 11, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Colts Monday Notebook: Frank Reich Not Wavering On Philip Rivers As Starting Quarterback

INDIANAPOLIS – Frank Reich would like a mulligan on his post-game comments following Sunday’s loss to the Browns.

In the immediate aftermath of the 32-23 road defeat in Week Five, Reich labeled the play of Philip Rivers against the Browns as “really good football” and that his performance was the “least of (his) worries.”

On Monday, after reviewing the film, the head coach took a step back on those comments.

“My statement (Sunday), and this is not indicative of how I think Philip played, but I’ll just admit to you that the statement I made was probably dramatic and overdone. So, my apologies for that statement, not the best statement,” Reich clarified.

Many believed Reich’s comments were too reminiscent of what the head coach said about Adam Vinatieri this time last year.

Reich is never going to be a public ripper of his players. That’s not his personality.

Of course, the comments on Sunday weren’t anywhere close to even that. They sounded more like a guy who had just thrown 300 yards and 3 touchdowns, instead of a guy who had several back-breaking turnovers in the second half, and led one TD drive against a struggling defense.

“First of all, you know how we roll around here, we win and lose as a team,” Reich said on Monday. “There is no finger pointing, not to individuals, not to a unit. You know how we roll as far as the individual grades of players, right? Those aren’t for public discussion. Part of what is great about this game is you guys get to give us grades, and we embrace that. Coaches and players, that is part of the greatness of this game is the fan interaction, the media interaction and the respect that the media has and has earned in this realm. We live with that. But I also understand even though I’m not going to give out grades.”

When asked on Monday if Reich has given any thought to benching Rivers at this point of the season, the head coach was direct.

“No, no consideration for that,” Reich said. “Philip is our quarterback.”

As Reich’s Monday presser came to a close, the head coach expanded more on his confidence in Rivers after 5 weeks of the season:

“My trust at the end of the day is who he is, this guy is a Hall of Fame quarterback and I have the utmost confidence and belief in him,” Reich said. “Our team has the utmost confidence and belief in him, and you have to live with some mistakes. The good is going to far outweigh the one or two bad things that happen, and we have to be a good enough team to overcome the one or two bad moments that we all have. We have to overcome a bad coaching moment. If I make a bad call, if the defense makes a mental error on a play and they score a touchdown, we have to overcome it as an offense. If the special teams makes a mistake, a costly mistake that results in a score, then as a team we have to overcome it.”

Here are a few other notes from Monday:

  • Frank Reich doesn’t sound like a fan of the decision by Nyheim Hines to field a 4th quarter punt at the 4-yard line, and fair catch it. “Then had the one punt that we had to fair catch inside the five, which is something that we normally don’t do,” Reich said in his game recap on Monday. Hines is the new full-time punt returner in 2020. He’s been solid but this was a huge mistake, as the Colts then were whistled for a safety on the very next snap when Philip Rivers was called for intentional grounding.
  • Jonathan Taylor finished Sunday with 57 rushing yards on 12 carries (4.8 YPC) against the Browns. That was Taylor’s highest yards per carry number of his 5-game NFL career. “I thought (Sunday) was Jonathan’s best game,” Reich said on Monday. “I felt like he really ran the ball well. I thought he saw it well. I wish we could’ve had more opportunities to get the run game going. I really think Jonathan was seeing it well.”
  • Here were Reich’s breakdowns on the two challenges he didn’t win on Sunday. The first one appeared to show Grover Stewart forcing a Kareem Hunt fumble before the whistle blew. But the call of Hunt being down on the field stood. “They basically told us that when they reviewed the call, there was not clear and compelling evidence that he wasn’t down,” Reich said. “We thought there was clear and compelling evidence that he never touched the ground and that the whistle was not blown for forward progress. The officials saw it differently than us…They basically said it was inconclusive so they weren’t going to overturn it.” In the second quarter, Reich used his final challenge on a 27-yard first-down completion to Odell Beckham Jr. With the Browns offense hurrying up a bit after the OBJ grab, Reich decided to use his final challenge in the middle of the second quarter. “It wasn’t clear,” Reich said of the impressive catch. “Then they came out to the ball, and I called upstairs real quick. ‘Do you have a view of it?’ And they hadn’t shown it yet, so we have basically a three-second discussion on it. Sometimes you figure they are hurrying because their bench had a good view of it and sometimes you just take that chance if you haven’t had a clear view of it. Then you see a replay and it’s just a stroke of luck for them that the ball comes down on his arm and doesn’t hit the ground. Even at that, it’s a chance that you took, and you win some and lose some of those. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for us.”
  • The Colts will have several injuries to monitor this week. From the Browns game, the Colts are watching these injuries: DL-Denico Autry (ankle), DE-Justin Houston (hip), S-Julian Blackmon (groin). All of those players finished the Browns game. Reich said it’s too early to tell on the statuses of LT-Anthony Castonzo (ribs) and LB-Darius Leonard (groin) returning this week. Remember, the Colts have a bye waiting after this Sunday’s meeting with the Bengals.

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