30-year-old Parks Frazier speaks on being promoted to Colts’ play-caller
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — With respect to Jeff Saturday, the Colts interim head coach won’t have the toughest job Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas against the Raiders.
That honor is bestowed upon Parks Frazier, the 30-year-old former personal assistant of Frank Reich who the last four-plus seasons quietly earned promotions on Reich’s offensive coaching staff.
Sunday marks Frazier’s first crack at play calling in the NFL, directing the league’s lowest scoring offense and a starting quarterback still in search of his first professional win.
The Colts still list Frazier’s title as Pass Game Specialist/Assistant Quarterbacks, although there is zero chance Frazier had time this week to ask what his actual title is at the moment.
“Haven’t seen sunlight – this window right here aside from practices, the first time I’ve seen sunlight,” Frazier said on Thursday. “But that’s what we sign up for. It’s been a busy week. Obviously, a tough week in a lot of ways, mixed emotions. You guys know how I feel about Frank Reich, about Marcus Brady. We’ve been through a lot of things in the last couple weeks, but on the flipside, an opportunity has been presented that I’m ready to take by the horns and go with. Like I said, mixed emotions but I’m ready for the opportunity.”
The opportunity begins Sunday, with a bit of a lucky break from a scheduling standpoint. Through nine weeks, the Raiders possess the worst pass rush in football, recording just nine total sacks.
On the flipside, Ehlinger and the Colts offense come off, statistically, the franchise’s worst performance since 1977. To potentially complicate matters going forward for the Colts brass, Quarterback Matt Ryan (shoulder) returned to practice on Thursday and a bit surprisingly was a full participant. According to one report earlier this week from The Athletic, Irsay isn’t closing the door on any of the Colts quarterbacks seeing the field later this season.
That statement will put more pressure on Frazier and Ehlinger to click soon. Frazier was picked to call plays ahead of Colts Quarterbacks Coach Scott Milanovich and Running Backs Coach Scottie Montgomery, both who have previous play calling experience.
On Thursday, Frazier was asked why Saturday chose him over the rest of the offensive staff.
“I can’t really get into all that,” Frazier said. “I just know how I prepared. I know where my mindset is. I know that we have a staff that I love and appreciate. These guys have stepped up to the plate and they’re already helping me so much. We have so many guys with such good experience. I think a lot of it was those guys have roles. Me stepping into this role allows everybody else to keep their same roles and a lot of those processes stay in place, which I think is a big part of it.”
You won’t see Frazier roaming the Colts sideline Sunday in Las Vegas, instead he is opting to keep his place in the coach’s box above the field, citing a comfort there from his experiences over the past few seasons.
Surely, the National Anthem will spark new emotions in this former quarterback who started his collegiate career at Northeast Mississippi Community College before finishing his playing career at Murray State. As a coach, this journey is even more of an underdog story, with entry-level coaching stops at Samford, Middle Tennessee State, and Arkansas State before landing a gig as Reich’s personal assistant in 2018. All of these coaching stops were preceded by stints sleeping in his truck or crashing on friend’s coaches in order to keep the dream of finding a full-time coaching alive.
Looking back, Reich gave him his big break and that certainly caused a lot of pain this week with the news of his mid-season firing.
“We’ve texted,” Frazier said. “We have not talked yet. My head has been down – you guys know the hours that I’ve put in and this week has been up there with some of the most. Back to the old in a lot of ways, which is great. I embrace that. At the end of the day, we have a job to do and that’s what we’re going to do. We have texted. He’s been extremely supportive as he always has been. I look up to him in so many ways as you guys know. He’s a mentor, a friend, and always will be…He’s given me his support, given me a couple pointers on things that as a first-time play-caller, emotions that you might feel, things to remember – things like that. We have texted but I have not talked on the phone with him.”
It’s an easy story to root for Sunday, but under these circumstances, it is certainty a daunting task to come out of Las Vegas with a victory.