Colts weigh quarterback options, Frank Gore works toward 1,000-yard season
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 1, 2016) – Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski joked the Indianapolis Colts might resort to the basics when determining whether the Indianapolis Colts settle on Josh Freeman or Ryan Lindley as their starting quarterback in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“Eeny, meeny, miny, moe,’’ he said. “That’s one way to do it.’’
Chudzinski was exaggerating, but it’s entirely possible the Colts won’t reveal their choice until Sunday.
Coach Chuck Pagano insisted Friday no decision has been made.
The coaching staff, he added, will “look at today’s work and the past couple of days and make the decision.”
“We might play ‘em all.’’
Pagano was including Stephen Morris in the mix, but the decision undoubtedly involves Freeman and Lindley. Each was signed earlier this week.
However it falls, the Colts will start three quarterbacks in a season for just the second time since 1998. Also, Freeman would be only the second black quarterback to start for them, the first since George Taliaferro in 1953.
Freeman and Lindley have spent the bulk of their week at the team complex, huddling with Chudzinski and position coach Clyde Christensen.
“They’ve done a great job,’’ Pagano said. “You can imagine coming off the street and they’ve got zero (knowledge of the offense). Not a cadence, not a snap, I mean nothing. Had to teach them how to lift their leg to take a snap from center (out of) the shotgun.”
“Heck of a deal.’’
The difficult part of preparing for the Titans has been balancing the offensive game plan to where it’s simple enough for a novice to execute but still diverse.
“We’re not going to obviously throw everything at them,’’ Pagano said. “We’ve cut it down.’’
Freeman insisted he hasn’t been overwhelmed by the whirlwind week.
“The task is put in front of you and you’ve got to figure out a way to best accomplish that, and that’s learning the system,’’ he said. “It’s being about to go out and spit out the plays and execute them.”
“I have no idea who’s going to be playing or starting, but I’m really excited about going out and representing this team.’’
Gore close, but . . . : The Colts’ prime objective Sunday is to reach the break-even mark while being led by a third starting quarterback who’s been in town less than a week.
Next in line is getting Frank Gore to 1,000 yards. He needs 109.
Problem is, so much is stacked against Gore, beginning with what promises to be a crowded line of scrimmage. His long odds might rival those of the Colts reaching the postseason for a fourth consecutive season. Remember, their fate hinges on every segment of a nine-game parlay falling in their favor.
Pagano is aware a Titans defense that ranks No. 13 overall and No. 8 against the run will force either Freeman or Lindley to beat them with his arm.
“They’re not going to let us run the football,’’ he said, adding he expects Tennessee to crowd the line with “nine, 10 guys on first and second down.
“Once they get us in third down, then they’re going to send the kitchen sink at us.’’
Gore has kept his frustrations pretty much to himself this season despite working behind an offensive line that has been largely ineffective at run blocking. He’s averaging 3.7 yards per attempt. He entered the season with a per-carry average of 4.5 and has never finished below 4.1.
Reaching 1,000 yards for the ninth time in 11 years “would be great,’’ Gore said. “That would be a plus, especially me coming to a new team, a team like this that never had a back get over a thousand since ’07.”
“And especially it’s going to be our fourth quarterback under center. To reach that would be a plus for the whole offense.’’
The Colts haven’t had a player reach 1,000 since Joseph Addai in 2007. That’s the NFL’s longest active drought. Gore would snap two dry spells if he gets his required 109 yards. The Colts haven’t had a player rush for 100 yards in 49 consecutive regular-season games, 55 overall. That, too, is the league’s longest streak.
Medical update: The only players ruled out of Sunday’s game are quarterbacks Andrew Luck (kidney) and Matt Hasselbeck (right shoulder/ribs/back) and linebacker Trent Cole (concussion). Safeties Colt Anderson (ankle) and Winston Guy (shoulder/hamstring) and linebacker Sio Moore (knee) are questionable.
Wide receiver Donte Moncrief (toe) is probable despite not practicing this week.