Frank Reich’s coaching career took off with the San Diego Chargers when he was promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator in 2014, holding that position for two years before moving onto the same role with the Philadelphia Eagles, then becoming head coach of the Indianapolis Colts two years ago. As the offensive coordinator for the Chargers, Reich experienced issues with an o-line that didn’t feature many players who would start for other organizations or who could play at an average level in the NFL.
That’s not something that Reich has had to worry about with the Colts, however, and after signing Philip Rivers in the offseason, Reich seems to also acknowledge that the Chargers didn’t get any better in that area after they moved to Los Angeles and he went to the Eagles. Reich told Zak Keefer of The Athletic that Rivers is “really gonna benefit” from playing behind Indy’s o-line and that he won’t have to “throw it 35 times a game” in his new situation.
On Philip Rivers, Frank Reich says "he hasn't fall off physically, and I feel like he's the same guy he was five years ago." Adds that "he's really gonna benefit from playing behind our line, handing the ball off and not having to throw it 35 times a game."— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) May 4, 2020
Rivers has actually only thrown over 600 pass attempts in a season one time, when he led the NFL with 661 attempts during the 2015 season. His offensive coordinator that season: Frank Reich. But Reich isn’t wrong: Last season, Rivers attempted 37 passes per game and the Chargers went 5-11. Though Austin Ekeler was a dangerous threat out of the backfield, LA did lack a threat in the run game.
The Colts had two Pro Bowlers on the offensive line last season, Quenton Nelson (All-Pro) and Ryan Kelly, plus Anthony Castonzo, Mark Glowinski, and Braden Smith rounding out the five. It is arguably the best offensive line in football. Indy featured Marlon Mack at running back, who had 1,091 yards, and then they drafted Jonathan Taylor in round two this year. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett averaged 30 pass attempts per game, and I assume Reich would like to see Rivers be between 25 and 30 with much greater scoring efficiency and yards per attempt than Brissett.
The Chargers are hoping that they’ll get that upgrade along the offensive line with the trade for Trai Turner, the signing of Bryan Bulaga, and perhaps the return of Mike Pouncey.