The Indianapolis Colts are 3-5-1, have benched quarterback Matt Ryan and just fired head coach Frank Reich and replaced him with franchise legend and ESPN NFL analyst Jeff Saturday.
Given all of those factors, some fans and pundits have made claims Indianapolis is actively tanking the remainder of the 2022 season. But don’t tell Jim Irsay that.
The Colts owner, who made the call to name Saturday the interim head coach Monday despite having no collegiate or professional coaching experience, told Bob Kravitz of The Athletic that allegations the team is tanking are “bulls—.”
“That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard, that we’re tanking,” Irsay said Tuesday, via Pro Football Talk. “That’s bulls—. We’re in this thing; 9-7-1 get us in, no question about it… We’re not tanking the season. Whoever says these things, that we’re not playing Matt [Ryan] because [of an effort to tank], that’s all bullshit. That’s not true… We’re going to do what it takes to win. I don’t know who people think we are, they don’t know us. We don’t tank in Indianapolis.”
To finish 9-7-1 as Irsay said, the Colts will have to go 6-2 down the stretch. That would appear to be a daunting task, as Sam Ehlinger, the 2021 sixth-round pick out of Texas, has struggled since taking the starting reigns from Ryan. The Colts’ schedule is no cake walk, as games against the Philadelphia Eagles (8-0), Dallas Cowboys (6-2), Minnesota Vikings (7-1), Los Angeles Chargers (5-3) and New York Giants (6-2) still await.
Colts’ Offense Undergoing Significant Change
The Colts’ offense, which averages a league-low 14.7 points per game, will have to navigate through that with not only an inexperienced quarterback, but a rookie play caller. Pass game specialist/assistant quarterbacks coach Parks Frazier is set to serve as the offensive play caller in the Week 10 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders (2-6) Sunday. The 30-year-old has never called plays or been in a role higher than an assistant.
For now, Frazier will be dialing up plays for Ehlinger. Irsay, however, didn’t close the door on Ryan regaining his starting position at some point this season.
“When [general manager] Chris [Ballard], Frank [Reich] and I decided to go with Sam, Frank wanted to name him quarterback for the year, but I told them, ‘Look, we have three quarterbacks; we need to use them all to win this year,” Irsay said. “If we decide to make a change, we’ll make a change. It’s not something we’re locked into. We’re going with Sam with his mobility and his playmaking ability since we’re struggling in [pass] protection and moving the ball, that’s what we all decided to do.”