Will the Indianapolis Colts ever fix their glaring quarterback crisis?
20 September 2022
In Jonathan Taylor and Matt Ryan, the Indianapolis Colts possess the NFL’s most explosive running back and the former league MVP at quarterback. And yet they still failed to score a single point against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
On Sunday, Ryan threw for just 195 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions. He simply looks a shadow of the player who led the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl back in 2017. But the Colts are likely stuck with him for the next two years as the team are obliged to cough up $18million of his $35m salary next season.
The Indianapolis Colts go through quarterbacks in the same way that Hogwarts goes through Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers - they’re seemingly cursed to require a new one every year, ever since Andrew Luck shockingly announced his retirement in 2019.
Since then, the AFC South side has started a host of unbelievably average players at quarterback. They firstly promoted Jacoby Brissett to the starting job, before supplanting him with Philip Rivers. Rivers retired after just one year and was replaced by Carson Wentz, who was then surprisingly cut after his team’s failure to make the playoffs last season.
Matt Ryan is the next man up but, considering how he and Wentz have started this campaign, it’s possible that the Colts have actually downgraded yet again.
Wentz was hired thanks to his previous relationship with Frank Reich, who was the offensive coordinator when the North Dakota State recruit led the Philadelphia Eagles to the number one seed in the NFC in 2017.
He actually did pretty well for the Colts, throwing 27 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions, as well as recording a quarterback rating of 94.6 over the year - his best since his second and third seasons in Philly.
Nevertheless, Colts owner Jim Irsay was unimpressed with his performance last term and in March this year said: "I think the worst thing you can do is make a mistake and try to keep living with it going forward.”
I wonder how he feels about that statement right now? Wentz has also started off phenomenally well in Washington with seven touchdowns, earning a QBR of over 100 in the process. Don’t forget, if the Colts don’t ‘go forward’ with Ryan next year, they’ll be spending $18 million on nothing.
The team has now found itself in a state of purgatory, stuck with quarterbacks so average that they can’t take the team to the next level, but good enough that the Colts will likely never find themselves with a high enough draft pick to acquire an elite talent such as Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes. They need to pay up. Either they should attempt to lure a leading signal caller, or invest in draft capital so they can move up the board in May and take a C.J. Stroud or Bryce Young.
However, what we will most likely get is a press conference in March where someone like Jimmy Garropolo is announced as their new starting quarterback - their sixth in as many years.
The only saving grace for the Colts is the division they find themselves in. Following Jacksonville’s thumping victory at the weekend, the Jaguars currently lead the AFC South with a single win on the board. Indianapolis and Houston are both off the bottom, courtesy of their miserable week one tie, meaning that last year’s number one seed in the AFC - the Tennessee Titans - are last with an 0-2 start.
The Titans have quarterback problems of their own after Ryan Tannehill was benched towards the end of their 41-7 demolition by the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football.
Rookie Malik Willis finished the game for Tennessee, completing one pass and rushing four times. The young signal-caller will likely prove to be an asset on the ground - he ran for 1,822 yards in his final two years in college, don’t forget. But who knows what he will achieve through the air?
Willis found more success in the run game on Sunday than Titans’ stud running back Derrick Henry, who ran for 25 yards, just 1.9 yards per carry. Henry is feeling the knock-on effect of A.J. Brown’s trade to the Eagles as opposition teams are stuffing the box and asking Tannehill to beat them by himself. If the veteran can’t find answers then perhaps Willis will, otherwise the Titans could enter their own quarterback limbo.
The Colts’ number one receiver, Michael Pittman Jnr, was missing this week due to a minor quadriceps injury. His return will at least give Matt Ryan the kind of relief that Tannehill cannot find and possibly allow him - and Jonathan Taylor - to kickstart the team’s season.
Otherwise, with the Jaguars and Texans currently possessing the division’s two most settled quarterbacks, we may need to prepare for a world where Trevor Lawrence or Davis Mills will soon hold the AFC South title aloft.
20 September 2022