After Andrew Luck's abrupt retirement in 2019, the Indianapolis Colts went into panic mode to replace the quarterback with anyone who could run the offense under Frank Reich.
General manager Chris Ballard had to look into many different avenues for the right quarterback. But what ensued were nine total names that have started at least one game over the last five years.
It's time to rank them from worst to first.
Nick Foles was acquired to be a stable backup to Matt Ryan in 2022. However, even his familiarity with Reich's offense with the Philadelphia Eagles couldn't help him. The former Super Bowl LII MVP and Pro Bowler was atrocious, losing both starts and scoring no touchdowns.
What he did accomplish was 25/42 completions for 224 passing yards and four interceptions. He also took eight sacks and looked completely over the hill.
Foles' brief time as a Colts quarterback is likely something all fans and front-office members want to forget. Even though the team wasn't good, Foles was arguably worse.
Similar to Foles, veteran backup passer Brian Hoyer was to be a stable mentor to Jacoby Brissett in 2019. However, Brissett had to sit out games due to injury, and Hoyer was thrust into the starting role.
Hoyer, like Foles, struggled, albeit not as badly. The former Michigan State Spartan completed 35/65 passes for 372 passing yards, four touchdowns to as many interceptions.
Needless to say, Hoyer won no games with Indianapolis and was immediately back on the New England Patriots the following year.
Sam Ehlinger was selected in the sixth round (218th overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft by the out of the University of Texas.
The draft position alone warranted him to be a lifetime backup, but in 2022 amidst the awful season he was trusted to make his first start against the Washington Commanders. Through 2022, he'd play again against the Patriots and Houston Texans but lost all three starts.
Ehlinger fought hard but played rough. He'd complete 64/101 passes for only 573 passing yards, three touchdowns to as many interceptions. He also tacked on 87 rushing yards, but it hardly made a difference in games. His most notable moment is getting destroyed by Bill Belichick in his second career start, which led to the midseason firing of Reich.
Ehlinger is a great piece to have on the roster. But he's nothing more than a backup quarterback.
At the time Ryan was acquired by trade from the Atlanta Falcons, he had done it all in the NFL. The former league MVP, four-time Pro Bowler, and All-Pro just needed a Super Bowl to tie up an already legendary career. A championship would also firmly set him in the Hall of Fame discussion.
The Colts were to be the team to help get him that elusive Lombardi trophy with players like running back Jonathan Taylor, wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., and a strong offensive line. However, Ryan was lost with Indy and posted some of the worst numbers of his 15-year career.
Ryan went 4-7-1 as a starter and completed 309/461 passes for 3,057 passing yards, 15 touchdowns (one rushing), and 13 interceptions. Along with his interceptions, Ryan fumbled an insane 15 times, which showed that his NFL career was likely at the conclusion.
Jacoby Brissett was on the Patriots for his rookie season (2016) but was Luck's backup in 2017. He would start 15 games that year and was okay given the lack of stability on the team. This led to the Colts selecting left guard Quenton Nelson the following season in 2018.
Brissett was ultimately the passer tasked with replacing Luck, and he did well to start things off in 2019. The Colts started at 5-2 and had a massive victory against the Patrick Mahomes-led Kansas City Chiefs.
Brissett had some injuries and a downhill fall later in that year. He'd finish at 7-8 (Colts finished 7-9) and completed 272/447 passes for 2,942 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. Brissett also rushed for 228 yards and four additional scores, totaling 22 touchdowns for the 2019 season.
Given the job that he had to fill after Luck's departure, Brissett did pretty well and is still one of the top backups in the league to this day.
The No.4 selection in the 2023 NFL Draft played only four games in his rookie season for the Colts due to several injuries, as an AC joint sprain in Week 5 ended his campaign early. The lack of games puts Anthony Richardson farther back on this list.
However, what the former Florida Gator showed in his limited action was extraordinary. Current coach Shane Steichen had the perfect offense for Richardson, and it showed against the Texans and Los Angeles Rams.
Richardson finished with a 2-2 record and was 50/84 passing for 577 yards, three touchdowns to one interception. Along with the passing metrics, Richardson ran 25 times for 136 rushing yards and four more scores with his feet.
Richardson needs more snaps and must avoid injuries. If this all happens, he could be the franchise quarterback that Indianapolis has been desperate to land. Indy would also be wise to grab another offensive playmaker for Richardson to throw to, making his life easier as he develops.
Gardner Minshew played with Steichen as the Eagles backup QB in 2021 and 2022. Once Steichen was hired to coach Indianapolis, it made sense to put him behind Richardson since he knew the offensive scheme better than anyone in the building.
But Minshew saw far more of the field than anticipated with Richardson's injury struggles. Minshew played better than all expectations warranted.
Minshew was a true leader, getting the Colts to a win-and-in game against the Texans in Week 18. Minshew lost the rivalry matchup with C.J. Stroud, barely missing the postseason and an AFC South crown.
The silver lining was that Minshew's 305/490 completions, 3,305 passing yards, and 18 total touchdowns (15 passing, three rushing) were good enough to earn him his first career Pro Bowl nomination.
We'll see if Indy decides to retain the services of arguably the NFL's best backup passer since he's a free agent.
The former No.2 pick from the 2016 NFL Draft, Carson Wentz was acquired by the Colts in a 2021 trade with the Eagles. Initially, many trusted that Reich could get Wentz back to his MVP-caliber play from 2017 where he threw 33 touchdowns and ran for 299 yards. Sadly, Wentz fell to an ACL injury in 2017 and was one of the most turnover-prone quarterbacks in 2020.
Wentz's numbers are solid from 2021. He put up 322/516 completions for 3,563 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions. Wentz also added 215 rushing yards and another score on the ground (28 total).
Where Wentz couldn't put it together was in the final two weeks of the 2021 regular season against the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars. Either win would have notched the Colts a playoff spot and a chance to make a Super Bowl run.
However, Wentz folded in dramatic fashion and looked shaken by the pressure, losing both games. The Colts finished 9-8 and had to sit from home to watch the postseason. The Colts dished Wentz off to the Commanders in 2022 after realizing most of their success came from Pittman, Taylor, and a dominant defense.
When the Los Angeles Chargers chose to not re-sign long-time starting quarterback Philip Rivers in 2020, rumors swirled where he would land. There were also talks of a potential retirement since he was almost 40 years old and had an old-school pocket-passer style.
Despite this, the Colts paired him with Reich and did what they could to push for a Super Bowl. While Indy didn't win the championship, they did make the playoffs, losing to the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card round.
Even though he was aged, Rivers looked smooth, precise, and comfortable with limited weapons and two rookies in Taylor and Pittman. Neither of them were the stars they are today.
The NFL legend posted an 11-5 record and was incredibly accurate. He completed 369/543 passes for 4,169 yards, 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Rivers retired following 2020 and is the last Colts quarterback to make the playoffs.
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