Former NFL quarterback Frank Reich has found a home with the Philadelphia Eagles. Reich has been the team’s offensive coordinator since 2016 and has helped guide an Eagles offense that ranked seventh in total yards during the 2017 regular season. Prior to coming to Philadelphia, Reich served three seasons in San Diego and was the Quarterbacks Coach for the Chargers in 2013 before being promoted to Offensive Coordinator, a role he filled for two seasons in 2014-15. He also spent one season as the wide receivers coach for the Arizona Cardinals in 2012 after beginning his coaching career in Indianapolis in 2006. Reich spent two years as an intern in 2006 before rising to offensive assistant in 2008, a role he filled until 2011.
Reich also had a long playing career in the NFL, mostly as a backup quarterback. Over the course of his 13-year NFL career, Reich played for four different teams including the Bills, Lions, Panthers and Jets. The quarterback also appeared in 14 playoff games, posting a 9-5 record. Reich spent nine of his 13 NFL seasons with the Bills, making it to the Super Bowl in four straight years with Buffalo from 1989-93, playing in two of the four games. Despite being a career backup, Reich left his mark on NFL history with one unforgettable performance in the 1992 AFC Playoffs.
Super Bowl LII will be Reich’s seventh chance to win a world championship, losing in the big game four times as a player and going 1-1 as a coach.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Reich Helped Orchestrate The Largest Comeback in NFL History
It’s one of the most memorable moments in NFL history. On Jan. 3, 1993, the Bills were trailing the Houston Oilers 35-3 in the third quarter of the AFC Wild Card game. Filling in for injured starting quarterback Jim Kelly, who got hurt in the final game of the 1992 regular season, Reich led the Bills all the way back, beating the Oilers 41-38 in overtime. The victory sparked Buffalo’s through the rest of the AFC playoffs and to the Super Bowl.
With Jim Kelly back under center, the Bills went on the road to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-3 in the divisional round and then again in the AFC Championship Game, Buffalo went on the road to Miami and beat the Dolphins 29-10, advancing to the Super Bowl for the third straight year. In Super Bowl XXVII, Kelly got hurt in the second quarter and Reich again was called on agai to save the Bills season. The backup threw for 194 yards and one touchdown but Buffalo was throttled by the Dallas Cowboys 52-17, marking the third straight Super Bowl loss for the Bills.
The Bills would make one more playoff run during the 1993 season and lost again to the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXVIII however Reich did not appear in any postseason games that year. 1994 was Reich’s final season with the Bills, capping off a nine-year stay in Buffalo where he appeared in 93 games but start only eight of them.
2. After Leaving Buffalo, Reich Played For 3 Different Teams Before Ending His Playing Career
The Carolina Panthers signed Reich as an unrestricted free agent in the 1995 offseason. He competed for the starting quarterback job but eventually lost out to first-round pick Kerry Collins. Reich started the first three games in the history of the Panthers franchise, losing all three. Reich threw for 441 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his only season in Carolina.
In 1996, Reich signed with the New York Jets and backed up starting quarterback Neil O’Donnell. The season was a disaster for the Jets who went just 1-15 under head coach Rich Kotite. Reich would post career highs in yards (2,205) and touchdowns (15) while appearing in 10 games for the Jets, starting in seven for the oft-injured O’Donnell.
After one year with the Jets, Reich finished his career as the backup quarterback for the Lions playing two seasons with Detroit in 1997 and 1998. In two years with the Lions appeared in 12 games, starting two, and threw five touchdowns. Reich appeared in 118 games over his 13-year career, but started only 20 of them. He completed 508 passes for 6,075 yards with 40 touchdowns and 36 interceptions
3. Reich is Still Searching For His First Head Coaching Job
He interviewed with the Jets in 2015 for the vacant head coaching position but the team eventually hired Todd Bowles despite Reich being the “favorite” to land the gig. Reich also interviewed with his former team, the Bills, however Buffalo also decided to go in another direction, hiring Rex Ryan instead. After two successful seasons on the Eagles staff, Reich is again rumored to be in the head coaching mix in 2018. After the 2017 regular season ended, Reich interviewed for the Bears head coaching vacancy, according to the Chicago Tribune. Titans insider Terry McCormick is reporting Reich could be a candidate for the vacancy in Tennessee.
Reich began his coaching career in 2006 as an intern for the Indianapolis Colts. He took eight years off after his career ended to spend time with his family before jumping back into the world of football.
“I took some time off because there is a huge time commitment to being a coach and at the time my children were really young,” Reich told Chargers.com in 2014. “I had just played 14 years and I wanted to take a few years and spend a lot of time with them. But I was always itching to get back.”
Reich was able to get onto the Colts coaching staff thanks to a strong connection with GM Bill Polian, who was formerly with the Bills and Panthers. Indianapolis won the Super Bowl in Reich’s first year on staff in 2006. In 2009, he was promoted to quarterbacks coach by new Colts head coach Jim Caldwell. Under Reich’s guidance, Peyton Manning won his fourth MVP award in 2009 and the Colts offense as the record-setting Colts offense eventually lost to the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV. In 2011, with Manning out for the season with an injury, Reich was demoted to wide receivers coach.
In 2012 Reich was hired by the Arizona Cardinals as the team’s wide receiver coach under head coach Ken Wisenhunt. Reich spent just one season in the desert as the Cardinals struggled to a 5-11 record and a last place finish in the NFC West. Reich was hired by the then San Diego Chargers as the team’s quarterbacks coach for the 2013 season. The Chargers offense thrived under Reich, as quarterback Philip Rivers posted the best numbers of his career, setting the team record for completion percentage (69.5%) and tied the team record with a 105.5 passer rating. In 204, Reich was promoted to offensive coordinator, replacing Wisenhunt, who became head coach of the Tennessee Titans. The Chargers missed the playoffs in 2014 and 2015, Reich’s final two seasons in San Diego. In the 2016 offseason Reich was hired as offensive coordinator by the Philadelphia Eagles and head coach Doug Pederson, a fellow career backup quarterback.
4. Reich is No Stranger to the Keystone State and Played High School Football in Pennsylvania
Prior to arriving in Philadelphia, Reich already had a connection to the state of Pennsylvania. Reich grew up in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Harrisburg, about 90 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Reich played high school football at Cedar Crest High School and is one of five players from the Lancaster-Lebanon League to play in the Super Bowl.
Reich’s Pennsylvania roots go back even further. His father, also named Frank, was drafted by the Eagles in 1956, but decided to not sign a contract with Philadelphia. After serving in Korea with the U.S. Marines Corps, Frank Reich Sr. was a two-way starter at Penn State from 1953-55, anchoring a Nittany Lions offensive line which paved the way for future Hall of Fame running back Lenny Moore. Reich Sr. played in the East-West Shrine game in 1956 and was one of the last players at Penn State to play all 60 minutes in a game, playing both ways at center and linebacker, according to his obituary on PennLive.com.
After graduating Penn State, Reich Sr. became an industrial arts teacher and football coach at Lebanon High School, according to the York Daily Record. When Reich Jr. reached his high school years, Reich Sr. abruptly retired from coaching at Lebanon wanting to not only find time to watch his son play, but to also avoid the awkward situation of coaching against him.
“My dad was a real stoic man,” Reich Jr. told Philly.com. “He’d sit up there in the stands and his facial expression would never change. I could throw four touchdowns or four interceptions and his face was never gonna change.”
Reich Jr. moved on from Pennsylvania to play collegiately at the University of Maryland from 1981-84, serving again as backup to future NFL MVP Boomer Esiason before finally earning a starting role in his senior season. In 1984, his final year in College Park, Reich engineered another historic comeback, rallying the Terrapins from a 31-0 deficit to defeat the Miami Hurricanes, 42-40. At the time, it was the largest comeback in college football history. It was topped in 2006 when Michigan State rallied from 35 points down to defeat Northwestern. Reich was an All-ACC selection in during his senior campaign and graduated from Maryland in 1984 with a business degree.
5. Reich is a Devout Christian and Uses Religion in His Coaching Tactics
According to Penn Live, several Eagles players have bibles in their lockers at the team complex. First-round pick Carson Wentz has a tattoo on the inside of his right wrist that reads “A01” which stands for audience of one. Wentz has also worn an “AO1” t-shirt at the podium during a press conference this season.
After finishing his playing career in 1998, Reich began preaching. He and his wife Linda spent some time on a mission at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“My wife and I have been really diligent in praying about the possibility of pastoring a church and planting a church one day,” Reich said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network.