INDIANAPOLIS -- Everybody gets to eat.
That's been a common saying coming from many of the Indianapolis Colts players when asked about the offense under new coach Frank Reich. It was difficult to get an indication of that during the preseason, because quarterback Andrew Luck and the rest of the key starters didn't display much when they were on the field.
The Colts finally put the offense on display against Cincinnati on Sunday, and there wasn't much disappointment in how it was run despite Indianapolis' loss. It was quickly evident that this wasn't the same offense Luck ran under previous offensive coordinators Bruce Arians, Pep Hamilton or Rob Chudzinski. The deep throws everybody was accustomed to seeing Luck make early in his career have been replaced with quicker throws to avoid getting hit and trusting in pass-catchers to make defenders miss the first tackle.
"I think it was fun getting to see how Frank calls a whole game," Luck said. "I really feel there were some times when we got into a really good rhythm and everybody is catching the ball and running the ball and we were moving the ball. We'll work to capture that feeling for 60 minutes, and we knew it wasn't going to be perfect."
The offense, just like the entire roster, isn't about one player. That means it’s not all about receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight end Jack Doyle, two of Luck's primary targets. Those two are an intricate part of the offense, but Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Siriani want every skill player on the field to feel like they're an intricate part of the unit.
All nine players who Luck attempted a pass to had at least one reception, led by Doyle's seven receptions for a team-high 60 yards. The Colts had 380 yards of total offense and Luck completed a career-high 39 passes against the Bengals.
"Not predictable is exactly what it is," receiver Chester Rogers said. "Everybody eats. Everybody has a chance to make plays. We're just going to spread the ball around. It can't get stuck on one side. [We're] going to pick the best side and the best matchup."
The Colts didn't spend the entire game lining up the same formation over and over again throughout the game. There was a lot of pre-snap motion to try to create mismatches and spread the defense out. The Colts rarely looked to the running backs running routes out of the backfield. But rookie running backs Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins were more than just safety valves out of the backfield for Luck. They combined for 10 receptions and 54 yards.
"Everyone touched the ball," Hilton said. "It was unbelievable. (The Bengals) were getting frustrated because they didn't know where the ball was coming from. We look forward to all the things Frank is doing, and Nick. Going great."
The offense should only get better as the weeks go by. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo (hamstring) and running back Marlon Mack (groin) will be back at some point from injuries. Reich will get more comfortable with his play calling. He was second-guessing himself for not being aggressive after the Colts had the ball first-and-goal from Cincinnati's 7 after an interception on the first series of the game.
"You know, for it to be successful throughout the season, we've got to have seven, eight, nine, 10, 11 guys that can go out and make plays," Luck said. "It can't all be T.Y. Hilton. It can't all be Jack Doyle. And I think we have the guys to do that. I really liked how Frank and Nick (Sirianni) structure the gameplan to get everybody the ball."