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Making Sense out of the Indianapolis Colts

With a quarterback carousel and an inexperienced head coach, there’s nowhere to go but up for the Indianapolis Colts.

The Indianapolis Colts are a mess every which way, and there’s no sugarcoating it.

Since Andrew Luck retired in 2019, the team has started six different quarterbacks and dished out $145 million to 12 total QBs — starters and backups included. After a 9-8 campaign with Carson Wentz under center in 2021, they acquired veteran QB Matt Ryan. It was another short-term bandaid, doomed from the start.

Amid the QB carousel that included Jacoby Brissett, Brian Hoyer, Philip Rivers, Ryan, and Sam Ehlinger, they figured coach Frank Reich was the problem. They axed him even though he went 30-27-1 while shuffling quarterbacks since 2018, and his hand was seemingly forced to replace Ryan with the inexperienced Ehlinger. Not even second-stringer Nick Foles!

This is all amid a playoff race where they were once 3-3-1 and one game out of first. Now, they’ve lost three straight with little hope of getting back on track.

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Like any business, a culture and its success starts at the top. Owner Jim Irsay hasn’t addressed the QB situation, and instead of naming an assistant as the interim head coach, they turned to former-Colt-turned-analyst Jeff Saturday to right the ship… or lose games on purpose in hopes they can draft a good quarterback.

The optics are terrible. Ryan might have to retire because of his injury guarantee, and now they have a bunch of inexperienced folks running the organization — from the coaching staff down to the quarterback. They can start to fix it by hiring experienced coaches and drafting or signing a competent quarterback.

Let’s look at how things went down the past few weeks.

Matt Ryan’s Quasi-Retirement…Maybe

First thing’s first. Nobody here is saying Ryan is perfect — or even good — but he IS the Colts’ best option at quarterback. He DID win enough games to put the Colts in playoff contention despite poor numbers. Instead, they benched him after he suffered a Grade 2 shoulder separation — not because he was a mediocre quarterback.

Because they wanted to save $17.2 million for 2023.

For that reason, it’d make sense to assume we won’t see Ryan again this season. But will we?

And how about Foles? He wasn’t very good with Chicago last year, but he’s a second-string QB for this exact reason. Perhaps the Colts figured they could give Ehlinger a chance, but he’s 0-2 with zero touchdowns and one interception, throwing for only 152 yards/game.

Interim Head Coach Jeff Saturday

Why would Saturday even want to be involved in this mess? He was great as an NFL analyst on ESPN and he doesn’t have a single ounce of coaching experience. Irsay tapped his former center before he even fired Reich, which is already nasty business. So, why a coach with no experience? It’s clear they’re fully embracing the tank, but it’s shameful for several reasons that go beyond the on-field product.

The NFL’s Rooney Rule requires teams to interview at least two minority candidates, including at least one in-person interview before making a hire. They could’ve looked within their own organization — Colts’ great Reggie Wayne is the wide receiver’s coach — but they decided against it.

According to the IndyStar, the Rooney Rule didn’t apply to the Colts because:

“The rule does not apply to an interim head coach during the season. It does apply after the conclusion of the team’s season.”

So, technically they didn’t do anything wrong by the rule, but again, the optics are just awful all-around. We’ll come back to this after the season if they’re still even looking for a head coach. It’s Saturday’s job to lose at this point, and things probably can’t get much worse than they already are.

Meanwhile Saturday has promoted pass game specialist/assistant quarterbacks coach Parks Frazier to offensive play-caller, starting with Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

There’s an argument to be made here. Frazier does have the most experience of the remaining offensive coaches after Reich was fired along with offensive coordinator Marcus Brady. But that’s also a hole that they dug. The team handed the keys to a 30-year-old kid who has never called plays or been in a role higher than an assistant.

Perspective

How are we supposed to take this organization seriously? Sure, they can tank out and nab a good prospect to end their quarterback debacle, but the damage is done. This is all a mess that the Colts created, little by little, as an organization. Now, they’re dealing with repercussions that run the risk of stretching beyond the current season.

Not only do they have an inexperienced coach, offensive coordinator, AND quarterback, but the current trajectory of the team runs the risk of ruining what might be an otherwise positive rapport with this offseason’s free agent crop.

Don’t forget: This is the same team that went 11-5 with Rivers at quarterback only two years ago. If they were so concerned about Ryan’s contract or the future of the team, they shouldn’t have acquired him nor made Frank Reich the scapegoat.

But this who they are — an absolute mess.

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About The Author
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio is a Staff Writer at Boardroom. Puccio has 10 years of experience in journalism and content creation, previously working for SB Nation, The Associated Press, New York Daily News, SNY, and Front Office Sports. In 2016, he received New York University's CCTOP scholarship and earned a bachelor's degree in Communications from St. John's University. He can be spotted a mile away thanks to his plaid suits and thick New York accent. Don't believe us? Check his Twitter @APooch.