If there’s intrigue and maybe a little excitement about Sam Ehlinger becoming the latest Indianapolis Colts quarterback assigned to lift this franchise to postseason heights, then that is wrong. Those feelings are wrong.
The correct feeling that should surround this franchise is fear.
And maybe a little dread.
Because if the Hail Mary that is benching Matt Ryan in favor of a former sixth-round draft pick who has zero career regular-season pass attempts doesn’t work, there’s going to be heads rolling after this season in Indianapolis.
None of this, of course, is Ehlinger’s doing.
Colts QB Sam Ehlinger Passes First Test
On Wednesday he met reporters as the latest great Colts quarterback hope. And he was convincing in his role in front of the microphones.
“Obviously there’s a lot of excitement for the opportunity,” Ehlinger said. “I’m just going to take it one day at a time.
“I’ve learned a ton. I’ve told you guys this is an education I can’t pay for in the way to prepare like a pro. Obviously Matt has done it for so long and I’ve been able to see his preparation and then obviously Nick [Foles] has done it as well. And he’s prepared as a backup, what it’s like to have those emotions and be called up.
“So to have those two guys in my corner as they have been and supportive of me, it’s been unbelievable.”
Ehlinger gave erstwhile starter Ryan his props. He showed Foles love. He showed enthusiasm for the opportunity. And he used the trusty one-day-at-a-time cliché.
Starting quarterback 101.
But if Ehlinger doesn’t play like a quarterback upon whose shoulders the franchise can rest, there’s going to be trouble for general manager Chris Ballard and coach Frank Reich.
Colts GM Chris Ballard Has Had Time To Find A QB
Ballard had the great fortune of being hired in 2017 by a franchise that had Andrew Luck at quarterback. And he had the great misfortune of being the GM when Luck surprisingly retired before the 2019 season.
Ballard has been trying to replace Luck ever since. And he’s failed.
Philip Rivers was a one-year patch to a seismic void.
Carson Wentz was a misstep after both Ballard and Reich assured owner Jim Irsay the former Philadelphia Eagle starter was the right guy.
And when Irsay wanted someone else after missing the playoffs last year, Ryan was acquired for a third-round draft pick from the Atlanta Falcons.
Well, Ryan’s 9 touchdowns passes and 9 interceptions and unremarkable 3-3-1 record later, the Colts are resting their hopes on Ehlinger.
If the sixth starting quarterback the general manager picked since Luck retired isn’t the right guy, Irsay is likely to stop thinking about removing Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder and realize his GM has failed at his job.
Because of all the duties a GM must fulfill, finding a starting quarterback is priority No. 1. And it’s now four seasons since Luck left so there’s been plenty of time to find that one guy.
Reich obviously is also swinging for the fences with Ehlinger. Maybe he knows something amazing is going to happen and everyone else just needs time to get clued in.
But that swing-and-a-miss with Wentz gives everyone pause.
So it’s all on Sam Ehlinger now. All he has to do is save the franchise and the head coach and general manager’s job.
Tua Lowering Shoulder Just Dumb
Unless you missed the nationally streamed injury that began a national conversation about NFL concussions, the controversy that led to an NFL and NFLPA investigation, and the league’s changing of its concussion protocols, then perhaps you’re not aware Tua Tagovailoa had a head injury a few weeks ago.
So let’s catch you up: The Miami Dolphins quarterback suffered a concussion against the Cincinnati Bengals.
And that led to or was a leading cause of all those things mentioned two paragraphs ago. Tagovailoa missed two games because of his concussion. The Dolphins lost both.
So, it makes perfect sense, that the Dolphins really want Tagovailoa to avoid potential hits that could lead to another concussion. Because another concussion might put Tagovailoa on the shelf the entire rest of the season and perhaps put him at risk of bigger health problems.
But if you watched Sunday night’s game between the Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers, you saw Tagovailoa scramble out of the pocket, and when defenders closed in he lowered his head and shoulders to try to bully his way for an extra yard or two.
Very courageous and all footbally of him.
But also really dumb because the risk of getting knocked out again versus the reward of gaining an extra yard simply doesn’t weigh in Tagovailoa’s favor.
“I looked at it,” Tagovailoa said Wednesday. “Obviously, I had my coaches telling me, ‘We don’t ever want you to do this.’ Obviously, I get that, coming off of the injury and what had happened prior with the concussion.
“But to me, it’s football. You go out there and for me, I can see the first down in instances, and want to do all that I can to go and get it. I don’t know. It’s football.
“I want to be able to continue making plays that I feel can contribute to moving the chains and helping our team. So whatever it takes for me, but then again, I’m going to tell you I’ve got to slide, I’ve got to do all of that. But instinctively, it’s just – I don’t know, it’s weird. It’s like a weird competitive thing.”
Competitors compete. Agreed.
But competitors must be available for the competition to compete. And Tagovailoa has a dubious durability history.
It would be smarter for him, the Dolphins, everyone, if he would just slide.
Ryan Tannehill Trying To Avoid Sitting
Ryan Tannehill is facing the toughest injury obstacle he’s had to overcome since joining the Tennessee Titans in 2019.
The Titans quarterback has started 50 consecutive games. But Tannehill sprained his ankle against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
Tannehill initially wore a walking boot and has so far not taken his usual practice repetitions. And a source said a sprain of this nature would normally keep a player out of the lineup at least two weeks.
Despite that timeline and some obvious concerns about stability in his plant foot, Tannehill is trying to do everything he can to play Sunday at the Houston Texans.
“I am headed in the right direction,” Tannehill told reporters Wednesday. “I have got a little ways to go but I have been better and I have been worse. Headed in the right direction.”
Tannehill got rid of his boot before Wednesday’s press conference and was not noticeably limping, which could be a testament to the non-stop treatment he’s been getting.
“It is a process for sure,” Tannehill said. “I am just doing everything I can in the training room here, at home, all types of treatments. I am just trying to stay on top of it as much as I can and give my body the best chance to heal.”
Rookie Malik Willis will start if Tannehill cannot play against the Texans.
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