Colts must ‘look at everything’ after opening blowout loss, including Scott Tolzien
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Two questions begged answers following one of the worst season-opening acts in franchise history:
What happened to the Indianapolis Colts, who traveled some 1,800 miles only to be laid to waste by the Rams 46-9 Sunday afternoon in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum?
And, who’ll be under center in Sunday’s home opener at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Arizona Cardinals?
Second things first.
The only thing that should keep Chuck Pagano from pulling the plug on the Scott Tolzien era and turning to Jacoby Brissett is Brissett’s unfamiliarity with the Colts’ offensive playbook. And that shouldn’t be enough, not after Sunday.
A change at QB wouldn’t be a matter of Brissett dazzling anyone during the fourth quarter, although he showed plenty of arm strength on his 50-yard completion to Donte Moncrief.
A change would be because Tolzien did nothing to keep the starting job and everything to lose it before being yanked at the end of the third quarter. Somewhere, Stephen Morris must be shaking his head.
When asked about Tolzien and the Colts’ quarterback situation, Pagano was terse. And non-committal.
“I’m sure we’ll look at the tape and see he did some good things, but until I look at everything and look at the tape, I’m not going to be able to give you a definite answer right now,’’ he said.
“We’ve got to look at everything.’’
Tolzien became the first undrafted quarterback to start a season opener in Colts’ history, and looked the part. His first pass of the game – an underthrow to T.Y. Hilton along the left sideline – was intercepted by Trumaine Johnson and returned 39 yards for a touchdown. He also tossed a second pick-6 to Lamarcus Joyner in the third quarter.
The last time a quarterback suffered a pair of pick-6s in a game: Dallas’ Tony Romo in week 12 of 2015.
“Two pick-6s, you’re not going to win many games in the NFL doing that,’’ Tolzien said after the game.
His afternoon’s work: 9-of-18, 128 yards, the two pick-6s, a 33.8 passer rating.
“You never want to be taken out of a game,’’ Tolzien said. “But that’s what needed to be done at the time. Chuck’s the head coach. Whatever he does, I’m for it.’’
Aside from delivering two TDs to the Rams, Tolzien was able to get very little accomplished. He directed 12 drives and eight failed to pick up a first down. The third quarter was especially impotent: five possessions, 14 plays, 0 yards, 0 first downs, the second interception.
Enter Brissett, obtained in a trade with New England eight days ago.
With the Colts in a 37-3 hole at the start of the fourth quarter, he immediately drove the offense to its only touchdown. Rookie running back Marlon Mack started the 5-play, 84-yard drive with a 24-yard run and ended it with a 3-yard TD. But the gasher was Brissett’s 50-yard completion to Moncrief that produced a first-and-goal at the 5.
Again, it’s not as if Brissett was off-the-charts good: 2-of-3, 51 yards. It’s that Tolzien was that bad. His passes lacked zip, contributing to the interceptions and allowing Rams’ DBs to close and break up others.
Brissett displayed some nimbleness during his post-game meeting with the media.
How much of the Colts’ playbook has he been able to absorb in one week?
“Enough to know I can’t answer that question because I don’t know how much it is,’’ he said.
If the coaching staff decides to bench Tolzien and give him the start against the Cardinals, could he get enough repetitions in practice next week to feel comfortable?
“You want me to predict the future,’’ he said with a smile. “I can’t predict that.’’
Did he do enough to supplant Tolzien?
“I played not even a quarter,’’ Brissett said. “That’s not my job to tell who’s the starter or not. That’s the coach’s job. It’s my job to just go out there and compete and continue to learn.
I’ve only been here a week. It’s a work in progress.’’
Pagano noted Brissett followed a “small menu’’ against the Rams due to his lack of practice. That could change.
“We’re going to keep burning, keep teaching him and keep bringing him up to speed as best we can,’’ he said. “And we’ll see where we’re at on the deal.’’
Last week, offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski professed confidence in Tolzien, who has handled the No. 1 unit while Andrew Luck has continued his rehab from January surgery on his right shoulder.
“He doesn’t have to be Andrew Luck,’’ he said. “He just has to be Scott Tolzien, and the best Scott Tolzien he can be.’’
Sunday, Tolzien wasn’t nearly good enough.
Maybe he gets a chance to make amends.
Maybe he doesn’t deserve one.