INDIANAPOLIS — Things have certainly changed in the Indianapolis Colts quarterback room over the past year.
The quarterback questions flowed like a river downstream after acquiring Carson Wentz from the Philadelphia Eagles last offseason.
Can Wentz stay healthy?
Can Wentz overcome the mental hurdle of being benched in his final season with Philadelphia?
Why are the Colts leaving with an unproven replacement Jacob Eason — a 2020 fourth-rounder who had never taken a professional shot — instead of acquiring a veteran behind Wentz?
Now in 2022?
The Colts have a new starter in Matt Ryan — acquired from the Atlanta Falcons in March — who missed just three of 225 games during his 14-year NFL career and was the league’s MVP in 2016. .
And the backup quarterback?
The Colts are not playing this time around. They enlisted veteran – and familiar face of coach Frank Reich – Nick Foles to support Ryan.
“What [general manager] Chris [Ballard] and I said it’s in a perfect world, you get proven backup, but if it doesn’t happen, we’re not going to chase it,” Reich said. “We are not going to overpay. We’re not going to do anything crazy that could hurt the team in the long run.
“Since I’ve been here I’ve wanted Nick on this team because I think he’s such a good player. I think he’s the perfect quarterback. He literally fell in our laps. We didn’t chase him. it wouldn’t have worked, we would have been happy with Sam [Ehlinger]but we’re really happy to have Nick.
Having stability at quarterback is one less concern for the Colts, who have legitimate expectations to win the AFC South this season.
Last season, there were times when they had more to worry about the quarterback than Wentz’s inconsistency. Wentz missed a significant amount of time in training camp with a left foot injury that required surgery. Then he sprained his left ankle in a Week 2 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
And you can’t forget the unvaccinated Wentz who contracted COVID-19 late in the season when the Colts were in the hunt for the playoffs. Although he played in Week 17, he didn’t practice all week and the Colts lost 23-20 to the Arizona Cardinals.
It got to the point that Reich even phoned former starter Philip Rivers to see if he had any interest in coming out of retirement to play for them.
Foles, if he’s in a rush to play, knows about Reich’s offense after they and Wentz met up in Philadelphia, where Reich was the offensive coordinator. After Wentz suffered a torn left ACL at the end of the 2017 season, Foles stepped in and led the Eagles to a Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots. Foles was on the receiving end of tight end Trey Burton’s touchdown pass on the legendary “Philly Special” trick play in that game.
“You’ve got a guy in Nick Foles who’s proven he can do it at the highest level and on the biggest stage, in any weather, any time,” Reich said. “I like to think that sometimes there are backups that can come in and run a game and get a win or two, and there are some that can throw 500 yards and win a game. That’s what Nick has proven he can do. He can win a shootout. He can win the shootout, and he can win a close game, make key plays in a close game.
Foles hasn’t been as effective since Reich left the Eagles to coach the Colts after that Super Bowl. He is 7-10 combined as a starter in his final season with the Eagles (2018) and stops with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears. The Bears released Foles earlier this offseason, which got him thinking hard about where his next stop was going to be. He had no interest in just jumping ship to his sixth different team during his NFL career, which began in 2012.
“I was going to be picky and smart because I have two little kids and one on the way, and I’m not going to move my family just to go to work,” Foles told reporters this week. “Like, I want to enjoy the grind.”
Foles knows his role in Indianapolis: supporting Ryan, helping provide insight into the quarterback room, and stepping in and playing when needed.
It is not a complex situation.
“It’s Matt’s team,” Foles said. “He’s the leader, and he’s steering the ship. … I think any time you have a QB room like this, you’re excited to go to work every day. You are excited to work alongside an MVP. »
The Colts’ mantra has always been that it’s not just about the quarterback, but they’ve realized it’s hard to win when they don’t have the stability and confidence in that position.
They have it now in Ryan and Foles.