INDIANAPOLIS – Nick Foles has done this before during his 11-year career – many times, in fact – and the Indianapolis Colts are hoping that helps mitigate the problematic situation they’ve put him in.
The veteran quarterback will replace an ineffective Matt Ryan and start his first game of the season Monday night against the Los Angeles Chargers, and do so after only three full practices with the starting offense.
Ryan, who’s now been benched twice in two months, will be the third quarterback and inactive Monday night. Sam Ehlinger has been elevated to the No. 2 slot.
The focus, though, is on Foles. He’ll make his 57th career regular-season start and the first since leading the Chicago Bears to a 25-24 win at Seattle in week 16 of 2021.
It’s worth noting that was the only time Foles stepped on the field for the Bears last season. He was the backup and did not play in eight games, and the No. 3 and inactive in eight others.
When finally called upon, Foles responded to the challenge. He passed for 250 yards and one touchdown, and engineered the game-winning fourth-quarter drive against the Seahawks.
“This is what he’s done for the majority of his career, right?’’ interim head coach Jeff Saturday said Friday. “So, he knows how to handle it. He knows how to get in and make adjustments and make himself feel at home with guys. He hasn’t done much with the 1s, but worked well this week.
“From his perspective, this is old hat for him. Hopefully he’ll have as much success with us as he has in other places and lead these guys to a win.’’
In 11 seasons, he’s 29-27 as a starter.
Foles admitted this week was going to be a “crash course’’ because of how the coaching staff has handled him this season. Whether he’s been No. 2 or No. 3 behind Ryan and Ehlinger, he took zero snaps with the starters until Wednesday.
“Like this is my first time to really be with the guys,’’ he said. “We’ll see what it’s like throwing to the guys.’’
One area the Colts anticipate Foles making a difference is pushing the football down the field. Ryan averaged 6.6 yards per attempt and 9.9 yards per completion. The Colts have only three completions of at least 40 yards, tied for second-fewest in the NFL. All have gone to rookie wideout Alec Pierce.
The Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints each have 12. The Justin Herbert-led Chargers have seven.
“You’ve got to make plays in the NFL and we’re not making nearly enough explosive plays and not making plays in the red zone,’’ Saturday said earlier this week.
For his career, Foles has averaged 6.8 yards per attempt and 10.96 yards per completion. He’s passed for 14,003 yards with 82 touchdowns, 43 interceptions and an 87.3 rating.
The end officially came Thursday night with Jacksonville’s win over the New York Jets. The 4-9-1 Colts had a .2% of reaching the playoffs before that game, and 0% afterwards.
Saturday didn’t bother addressing the situation with his team.
“We understood by what we did the last three weeks or four weeks that we did not control our own destiny and you’re having to hope for a lot of things,’’ he said. “No extra meetings needed.
“Fairly obvious by the way that we played.’’
The Colts have missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons and in six of the last eight years. The last time they endured a worse streak: 1988-94 (zero playoff appearances).
More from Moore?
Cornerback Kenny Moore II has missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain, and won’t play against the Chargers. But it’s possible he returns to the field before the end of the season.
“We’re hoping to get him back and he’s trending well,’’ Saturday said. “He’s working hard, trying to get back out there.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.