The Colts were primed for another great season. Last season, they finished with a great 11-5 record and just barely losing the division title to the Tennessee Titans. Phillip Rivers and company did as much as they could to bring exciting football back to an already numb team, who still tried to get a grip after losing Andrew Luck to retirement. After a disappointing loss to the Bills in the Wild Card round, the Colts yet again had another QB issue as retirement took another player, this time the 17-year vet Phillip Rivers.
Indiana was left with sticking by 2020 fourth rounder Jacob Eason, or pursuing a QB in the market via trade or free agency. In April of 2021, the Colts made a move for Eagles QB and former 2nd overall pick Carson Wentz. Indy sent a 3rd rounder and conditional second round pick in exchange for Wentz and were immediately met with mixed reactions. Wentz had been benched in place of rookie QB Jalen Hurts in week 13 of the 2020 season, drawing an end to his season and also the end of his Philly career. Wentz went from the QB who torched the league before injury during the Eagles 2017-18 title run to the most intercepted QB (15) and most sacked (50) with a 3-8-1 record in 2020. If that wasn’t alarming enough, then the injuries Carson sustained were a bigger risk.
Wentz has suffered a slew of injuries ranging from a hairline fracture in his rib (2016), ACL and LCL tears in his left knee (2017), to a stress fracture in his back (2018). It should’ve come to no surprise to the Colts organization that their fanbase were a bit hesitant on Wentz, since building around an injury-plagued player is a huge leap of faith. Late July saw that leap of faith go south as Wentz suffered yet another injury, this time injuring his foot during practice. After undergoing foot surgery, it was revealed that the new Colts starting QB would be out at least 5-12 weeks, meaning he’d miss preseason, practice, and at minimum 5-7 season games. The biggest issue for the Colts aside from the injury, is that Wentz is on contract till 2024 and this isn’t the way they thought he’d spend his first season. With the season still weeks away, the Colts shouldn’t panic in the games without Wentz, rather they should find means to keep their team afloat if they have any hope to snap their division title drought, the longest drought in nearly 30 years for the franchise. So what exactly does Indy do to cope with the Wentz injury?
Trust the Guys They Drafted
The easiest answer is Jacob Eason. Eason is the longest tenured QB on the Colts roster, which is insane given he’s been in the league for just about a year. He has been praised for having tremendous arm strength (perhaps the best in his 2020 class) and for also having a solid 6’6 231 pound build. No one knows the playbook and style of the team more than Eason because no other QB was on the team last season. HC Frank Reich has gone ahead and said Eason is “in the driver seat” for the Colts as of now and he’s atop the depth chart with Wentz out.
Another guy the Colts can go with is 2021 6th rounder and former Texas Longhorn Sam Ehlinger. Apparently Sam has made a great impression on the coaches and media alike given how sharp he looks in practice. When Reich was approached about maybe turning to Ehlinger at QB1 he said, “Fair question, because [Ehlinger] has looked good. But, right now, our plan is to put Jacob in the driver’s seat. Sam is getting a lot of reps. They’ll keep competing. This is a competition.” With Sam on Reich’s radar, who knows how the QB competition will shape out. All Eason and Ehlinger can do is continue to progress and gain the trust of the team and coaches.
Trade for a Proven QB
The last option and easily the most drastic is trading for another quarterback. The player mostly linked with the Colts is former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles.
The Foles-Reich connection goes back to the days where they, along with Wentz, won the Super Bowl. Reich served as the offensive coordinator that year and the love and respect is mutual between Foles and his former OC. When Reich was asked about Foles he opened up saying, “I love Nick Foles. He plays for the Chicago Bears. I haven’t talked to him, but I think he’s a great player. I think he’s proven that. I think he’s a great teammate — there’s nothing about Nick Foles that I don’t like. I think he’s a winner. He’s certainly a guy that fits our kind of culture, but he plays for the Chicago Bears. We’re glad we got the guys we’ve got, and we’re focusing on getting our team better, and I’m excited about that and the players that we have.” Although Reich sort of shrugged off the rumors, Foles also went on the record claiming Reich is one of, if not his favorite coaches ever. Shortly after that claim, Foles also mentioned he’d like to play with a great coaching staff and with coaches he’s familiar with. Although it’s not looking like the Colts will make a move based on Reich’s words, it’s definitely a situation to monitor.
The bottom line is that although Wentz had a history of injuries, no one expected him to be out before the season. Going to the Colts under a coach who he was familiar with and shared a lot of success with seemed to be the change of scenery Carson Wentz desperately needed. No team likes to be in QB limbo where they have to evaluate the worth of a player in such little time. For a team like Indy who has players who are young and entering their prime as well as the contract and money part of football on their side, they need to build a team to win. It’s easy to understand the stress and panic within the organization as they bet on Wentz being that guy to build around after the departure of Luck and Rivers. Although Wentz has time on his contract, he needs to come back healthy and play great football to compensate and prove he’s the guy moving forward.