INDIANAPOLIS — If nothing else, Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich was clear about one thing following his team’s 7-9 finish in 2019.
The passing offense must improve.
A franchise that spent nearly two decades trotting out Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck under center finished 30th in the NFL with 3,108 passing yards and 25th with 5,238 yards of total offense.
A day after the regular season ended with a 38-20 loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Reich vowed to examine all elements of the passing game and improve the team’s aerial attack.
The Colts confirmed the initial steps of that process Thursday, naming Mike Groh as the new wide receivers coach and shuffling former wide receivers coach Kevin Patullo into the nearly created role of pass game specialist.
Groh spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles and was the team’s wide receivers coach in 2017 when the franchise won its first Super Bowl championship.
Reich was the offensive coordinator for that Philadelphia team, and he and Groh were key contributors to the collaborative game planning approach that allowed the Eagles to run to the title with backup quarterback Nick Foles at the controls.
It’s still unclear who will be the quarterback for Indianapolis in 2020, but whether Jacoby Brissett returns as the starter or a fresh face is brought in, teaching and development figure to play a prominent role in the offseason.
But Reich was careful in his final analysis not to blame the offensive struggles on the quarterback alone.
“I look at the struggles we’ve had in the passing game as they were team struggles — obviously primarily offense,” Reich said. “That starts with coaching and certainly playing, personnel and all of that. It all gets evaluated. We’ve got to hold ourselves accountable. I mean we know our fans want championship football.
“We are used to, around here in this area of the country, of knowing how to throw the football. So we are going to throw the football, OK? We will figure it out. We didn’t do a good enough job this year. We will do better next year.”
There were several other coaching changes announced Thursday.
Brian Baker was named the defensive line coach, Parks Frazier moves over to offensive quality control and Tyler Boyles was hired as assistant to the head coach.
Baker has 19 years of NFL experience and was the associate head coach/defensive line coach at Alabama last season. He previously coached alongside Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus with the Dallas Cowboys in 2011-12 and was a college teammate of Reich at Maryland in the early 1980s.
Baker replaces Mike Phair, who left earlier this offseason to coach the defensive line for the Carolina Panthers.
Frazier has been the assistant to the head coach in Indianapolis the past two seasons and spent three years as a college assistant prior to that. He was a college quarterback at Murray State and Northeast Mississippi Community College.
Boyles has been a college coach for seven seasons, including the last five at Middle Tennessee State. He played college basketball at Shawnee State.