“When it came out that Philip was going to be available, it was an easy discussion to see that it was a fit with us,” Reich said. “[We said], ‘Yes, we think this guy’s elite. Is he the right fit? What does he have left in the tank at 38?' ... All the throws I saw on film, and as I studied them and went back and compared them to previous throws, I really didn’t notice any physical gifts diminishing at all.”
Rivers is 38 years old and coming off a season when he threw 20 interceptions -- third-most in the NFL -- but familiarity with Reich was too much for either party to pass up. Rivers, according to Reich, probably knows more than 85 percent of the team’s offensive system because he spent three seasons coaching Rivers with the Chargers. Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni and tight ends coach Jason Michael also were on the Chargers' staff.
“I’m sure, certainly I’d imagine they’ve tweaked and changed some terminology both from Frank’s time in other places, from Frank’s time in Philadelphia. I’m sure Nick had some different things that he wanted to do different than we did with the Chargers along with the rest of that offensive staff,” Rivers said. “So I’m sure there are certainly some things that have changed. I look forward to learning those and getting a feel for those, but for the most part it is going to be almost the same system that we’ve ran since I’ve been in since ’13. In a lot of ways, you find out over a long career that a lot of us all run the same thing.
“They understand what I think and how I look for things. There is a good dynamic there from the way we communicate. I think that is a positive and I do think there was a trust factor that was built in our time here in San Diego. ... It’s important to have that trust -- that Frank has called the plays before and we’ve made it work. I’ve communicated this to him, we’ve had a lot of those experiences together -- those trust-building experiences -- and I think that certainly lends to the confidence that this is going to be a successful opportunity.”
Reich is about to have a different starting quarterback for the third consecutive season. Rivers' familiarity will help speed the process of getting acclimated to just the second team he has played on in his 16-year career, and it also helps because the Colts -- like every other team in the NFL -- have shut down their facility due to the coronavirus pandemic. It's uncertain when the Colts, who were supposed to start offseason workouts April 20, will be able to get together.
"When we are able to send him stuff and get our materials, he will be able to pick it up quickly and then as soon as we are able to communicate with him and we are able to talk football and really get into a teaching mode, it won’t take long," Reich said.
Rivers said having communication with Reich, Sirianni and quarterbacks coach Marcus Brady through video conferences will be key because he wants to be ready to go when football resumes.
“I want to step in there when we get in there day one and the guys in the huddle feel like I have been there more -- I hope they don’t feel like it’s my first day,” Rivers said. “I know that it will take some time to build some chemistry and all that with receivers, backs and tight ends and how we communicate with the offensive line. I don’t want that to slow us down any and I will make sure that doesn’t happen.”
With Rivers, Reich wants to take more chances downfield to complement Rivers’ ability to make quick and short-rhythm throws. The Chargers had 57 explosive pass plays in 2019. The Colts had 38.
“He has unique ways of making plays down the field,” Reich said. “And he’s done that his whole career. All the stats point to that. I’ve seen it firsthand.”