Colts haven’t made a QB decision, or aren’t sharing if they have
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – If a decision has been made on which quarterback gets to direct Sunday’s bounce-back effort, the Indianapolis Colts aren’t in a sharing mood.
Three days after the 46-9 whipping at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams and two days after Chuck Pagano insisted he and his staff would evaluate whether to stick with Scott Tolzien or turn to Jacoby Brissett, Pagano offered no clarity.
Have the Colts made a decision?
“No, we have not,’’ Pagano said Wednesday. “Both guys will get reps (in practice), just like they did last week.’’
Reps with the first unit?
“We’ll work both guys in,’’ he said.
Before we go any further, let’s point out it’s entirely possible – maybe even likely – the Colts have settled on their starting QB for Sunday’s meeting with Bruce Arians and the Arizona Cardinals at Lucas Oil Stadium, and are keeping it to themselves for competitive purposes. It’s also reasonable to assume whichever QB is slated to start will get the bulk of the repetitions with the starting unit.
Why make the Cardinals’ preparation any easier?
That seemed to be Pagano’s inference when he offered, “Bear with me. You understand why.’’
That might have been another way of saying: You’ll find out Sunday, a few hours before kickoff.
We might be on the verge of rarity a Colts’ rarity. The last time they opened a season with different starting quarterbacks in the first two games: 1992. Mark Herrmann won the opener against Cleveland, then was released. Jack Trudeau started game 1 against Houston.
Tolzien would like nothing more than to have an opportunity for atonement after contributing to the Rams’ blowout with a pair of interceptions returned for touchdowns. He passed for just 1128 yards before being replaced by Brissett in the fourth quarter.
“I think there’s a little extra motivation, just the competitor inside of you is not pleased with how things went,’’ he said. “You want it that much more.’’
Tolzien was asked if he’s been told who’ll be under center against the Cardinals.
“I don’t know yet,’’ he said.
Does he expect to start?
“It’s coach’s decision,’’ Tolzien said. “I’d love to, but that’s his decision. I’m a team guy, so whatever he decides I’ll roll with it.’’
Brissett, acquired in a Sept. 2 trade with New England, was just as evasive.
“Just go out there, compete, be ready to go,’’ he said when informed of Pagano’s no-decision comment. “Whatever coach’s decision, just gotta live with it.’’
Would Brissett like to start?
“That’s coach’s decision,’’ he said. “Everybody wants to play, but at the end of the day, it’s coach’s decision.’’
Could he be up to speed with such limited practice time and after having less than two weeks to digest the playbook?
“He would (go with) the player that would put us in the best position to win,’’ Brissett said.
And that what this keeps coming back to: until Andrew Luck returns – he didn’t practice Wednesday – which QB offers the Colts the best opportunity to be at least reasonably effective on offense?
Against the Rams, Tolzien led 11 drives, excluding a first-half kneel-down. Seven failed to generate a first down. Five ended with punts and three with turnovers.
Brissett offered an immediate spark on the first drive of the fourth quarter with a 50-yard hookup with Donte Moncrief. But his Colts’ experience consists of nine snaps and three pass attempts against the Rams. In three games as a rookie with the Patriots in 2016, Brissett was 1-1 as a starter while Tom Brady was serving his suspension and backup Jimmy Garoppolo was sidelined with an injury.
It’s easy to jump to the conclusion Brissett will get his third career Sunday start simply based on how poorly Tolzien played at Los Angeles. If Tolzien starts, imagine the crowd reaction at the first incompletion, stalled drive or interception.
But it’s not a leap to consider Brissett gets the nod based on a few of Pagano’s comments.
Monday, he mentioned “we’ve got to do what’s best for the football team and what gives us the best chance to move the ball and put points on the board.’’
Wednesday, he reiterated “we’ve got to find a way to move the chains and we’ve gotta hang in the there. Get in a third-and-manageable and make some first downs. A punt is OK. That’s what I told the football team: a punt is OK, then play defense.’’
Against the Rams, the Colts were 0-for-10 on third down. It was the first time in three decades they failed to convert at least one third down.
After a few other topics were broached, Pagano said, “It’s all about production at the end of the day.’’
Not surprisingly, players offered no insight into the Tolzien/Brissett discussion.
“That’s not my call,’’ said running back Frank Gore. “That’s coach Chuck’s to make the decision. I just roll up with what I can do. Whenever my number gets called, whenever I’m out there with my teammates, go out there and try to give it my all.’’
T.Y. Hilton might benefit from the insertion of the stronger-armed Brissett into the lineup. Chunk plays are a big part of the Colts’ offense, and his long reception with Tolzien was a 32-yarder.
“I don’t know,’’ Hilton said of a possible QB shuffle. “Guess we’ll find out. I don’t know. I like ‘em both. It is what it is.
“Whoever’s back there, we’re going to roll with.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.