The Colts are starting a fresh in 2018.
After a disastrous season in 2017 that saw franchise cornerstone Andrew Luck miss all 16 games, the changes have been widespread.
They’ve got a new coaching staff, a new defensive scheme, and are in the process of installing a new offense.
First year head coach Frank Reich will call the plays, but it’s been OC Nick Sirriani that’s been tasked with getting the players on board with the x’s and o’s.
And, Sirianni has been putting his players knowledge of the new scheme to the test in a refreshingly old school manner.
The former Chargers and Chiefs assistant is giving the players written tests to gauge how they’re quickly they’re learning the system he and Reich will be running in 2018.
It seems to be going down well too.
“I’m buying into what these coaches are bringing to the table,” wide receiver Ryan Grant said. “In college, I had a couple of football tests, but with the Redskins we didn’t really do paper tests. It was totally different and I like it. I like change. Whatever they need to do to help learn the offense I’m willing to do.”
Grant signed as a free agent to bolster Indy’s depleted receiving corps this offseason after spending his first four seasons as a pro in Washington, and said that the competitiveness of the tests amongst the players means he won’t be ‘flunking’ any of them.
Third-year pro Chester Rodgers echoed Grant’s feeling on the tests and also revealed that the new offense is getting the best out of the players.
“We’re not handicapped in this offense,” Rogers said, “and I feel like it’s going to bring the best out of all our potential … It’s putting players in positions and groups that they’re good at.
“[I got a] 96 and the craziest thing is, I missed the easiest one on the test,” he said. “They post [the scores]. Everything is competitive. Behind the scenes [we joke about the scores]. We don’t do it in front of everybody.”
The coaches themselves see the tests as a way to promote learning as a competitive task.
“What I feel like it does, it forces them to study,” Sirianni said. “[It] forces them to study even a little bit more than they would. They’re prideful guys that want to be right. They want to look good in front of their peers. That’s why they’re in the positions that they’re in. I’ve done that for a little [while] and always felt like it worked pretty well, so continued it here.”
Reich also said that Sirianni has always been inclined to do things a little differently and that it really does get the best out of the players.
“I think every coach is a little bit like that, but Nick is probably to the extreme on that.” the former Eagles OC said. “When we worked together in San Diego, he was the same way. I really like that about [Sirianni] because you’re just being held accountable every day — to your peers and to the coaching staff. And really, the whole goal of it is never to embarrass anyone, it’s to create competition.”
Everything seems to be on the up in Indy with the new regime, all they’re waiting for now is the return of a healthy Andrew Luck to complete the transition.