INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – This much we know about the Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback situation, which was abysmal in Sunday’s season-opening debacle against the Los Angeles Rams: Andrew Luck isn’t coming to the rescue.
Not this week. Not Sunday when the Arizona Cardinals visit Lucas Oil Stadium.
Although the team’s $140 million QB hasn’t officially been ruled out of being on the practice field Wednesday, Chuck Pagano ruled Luck out of the home opener.
That brings us to the only questions that matter following Sunday’s 37-point beatdown:
Or Jacoby Brissett?
Chuck Pagano acknowledged further evaluation is required before that – benching Tolzien, turning to Brissett – can be answered.
“It’s something that we’ll discuss later tonight and into tomorrow as we game plan,’’ he said. “We’ve got to do what’s best for the football team, what gives us the best chance to move the ball and put points on the board.’’
Sunday, that wasn’t Tolzien. And he was the first to admit it.
“It’s a team effort,’’ he said after the game, “but I certainly want to own this one and put it on me. You always feel guilty when you let your team down, and we’ve got a lot to improve on.
“Starting with me.’’
Pagano, offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and general manager Chris Ballard must determine if Tolzien warrants another start after faltering so badly against the Rams. He passed for only 128 yards, and twice had interceptions returned for touchdowns. The first, by Trumaine Johnson, came on his first attempt.
Tolzien’s 33.8 passer rating was the worst by a Colts’ starting QB since Luck’s 23.0 in the 45-7 loss to the New England Patriots in the 2014 AFC Championship game.
And then there’s this: Tolzien’s passer rating when “throwing’’ to the Rams was 79.9 (2-for-18, 68 yards, two TDs).
All kidding aside, as difficult as it will be to get Brissett up to speed – he was acquired in a trade with New England nine days ago – it might be a tougher sell to send Tolzien back out there.
Another question that must be asked during the internal debate: Which QB gives the team the best chance to win?
Every phase shared the blame for what was the third-worst opening-day loss in Colts’ history. The pass defense yielded seven completions of at least 21 yards and Adam Vinatieri missed a 38-yard field goal and just the 14th PAT of his 22-year, 323-game career.
But the offense’s impotency magnified every shortcoming. Excluding a kneel-down at the end of the half, 13 of 14 possessions lasted less than 2 minutes, 42 seconds. Eight failed to pick up a first down.
And then there’s the third-down futility: 0-for-10. The last time the Colts failed to convert at least one third-down situation was against Buffalo (also 0-for-10) in week 14 of the 1987 season.
“Oh-for-10 on third down,’’ Pagano said with a shrug, “you’re not going to win football games playing situational football like that.’’
Yes, it’s a team game, but offense revolves around the quarterback. On third down against the Rams, Tolzien was 1-for-8 for a minus-4 yards and one of the pick-6s. That’s a rating of 0.0.
The argument to stick with Tolzien seems to focus on whether Brissett would be adequately prepared. He most certainly would attack the Cardinals with an abridged playbook.
“There’s nobody that can come in and digest and learn a playbook in that period of time,’’ Pagano said. “There’s challenges that would be with any quarterback, any system, any NFL building.’’
Veteran tight end Jack Doyle insisted the entire team was embarrassed by Sunday’s performance, but added there’s no time to dwell on it.
“We’re trying to figure it out,’’ he said. “We’ve got a game in a week.
“We’ve got to figure out a way to bounce back, respond. No one feels worry for us. No one cares that we just got our butts kicked.’’
- Medical update: Pagano said center Ryan Kelly (foot) and cornerback Vontae Davis (groin) remain “week-to-week,’’ which means they won’t play against Arizona. There’s a chance wideout Chester Rogers (hamstring) returns to the practice field Wednesday.
Rookie linebacker Anthony Walker left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury. As of Monday evening, the Colts didn’t know the severity of the injury.
“Hopefully it’s not a long-term deal,’’ Pagano said.