It’s been kind of a hard time around the Indianapolis Colts lately. First, what they did was make a change of quarterback, in which Matt Ryan was put on the shelf in favor of second-year man Sam Ehlinger.
Now, after Sunday’s last-second 17-16 loss to the Washington Commanders, somebody fired offensive coordinator Marcus Brady, to be replaced by, well, nobody in particular that we are aware of.
So now Ehlinger, coming into his second NFL start, has to deal with Bill Belichick, who loves to feast on these young quarterbacks, but didn’t necessarily have a lot of success with second-year man Justin Fields last time out at Gillette Stadium (a 33-14 Patriots loss to the Bears).
Kickoff is 1 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, and end the odds that have been posted at BetOnline, the New England Patriots, at home, are favored by 5.5 points, with a total of 40.5 points.
Fans are unbelievably unhappy with what is going on with the Colts. The offensive line has vastly underperformed, and so a lot of blame has been laid at the feet of Chris Strausser, the assistant who handles that. Scott Milanovich is the quarterback coach, and well, the experiment with Matt Ryan faded badly.
Of course Frank Reich is always going to be in the firing line. So people are wondering why he wasn’t the guy given the ax.
Instead, Indianapolis fired the offensive coordinator and made a trade, sending Nyheim Hines over to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for Zack Moss. This is significant, because Hines is the guy who was a little disgruntled over his lack of playing time, after being promised in the off-season that his role would increase as Ryan took the control of the offense.
And there is considerable question as to who has actually made these moves. It is no secret that owner Jim Irsay like to be hands-on from time to time, and it has been said that he’s the one who preferred to sit Ryan down and elevate Ehlinger. Brady may have been his decision as well; there has really not been a clear explanation put forward on that one.
Perhaps this is a sensitive issue, as Brady was one of two black offensive coordinators in the league, the other being Tampa Bay’s Byron Leftwich. You just like to see that there wasn’t one guy hung out there to dry.
Yes, he was an overall charge of the offense, but there have been so many changes on the offensive line, where there has been five different combinations. And the Colts are 30th in the league in points scored, which is a reflection of a number of things, including a number of times Ryan has turned the ball over.
And Jonathan Taylor has averaged only 4.3 yards a carry. That’s a cruel thing to happen to last year’s NFL rushing leader. Well, that’s moot now, because Taylor’s ankle injury prevents him from playing. And since they are without Hines, that would leave more playing time for Deon Jackson, the second-year man out of Duke.
First, how does all this change affect Ehlinger in his second start. According to the NFL betting props posted at BetOnline, here is the over-under on his passing yards:
Over 198.5 yards +100
Under 198.5 yards -130
First, let’s point out something that Reich himself has pointed out – he is the play-caller, and that’s the way it has been. So that’s the case with or without Brady. Ehlinger says his preparation routine won’t change. That may or may not be true.
Originally, I was figuring that the run-heavy attack the Colts seem to have committed to would bring Ehlinger’s passing yards down as we progressed. But you can’t sustain that without Taylor. Short passing would be a short-term solution, and that means Ehlinger throws it more.That would point us OVER this total. One of the natural outlets would be one of his running backs.
And so, as far as Jackson’s receiving yards are concerned……
Over 21.5 yards -117
Under 21.5 yards -112
Jackson is ideally looked upon as someone who will fill Hines’ role on the team, which is to be a third-down receiver out of the backfield. Hines was targeted 28 times in seven games. Jackson has not played very much. But over a two-game period, when he was needed, he was on the field for 100 snaps, and against Jacksonville he caught ten passes for 79 yards. He has a 100% catch rate.
He fits into this scenario, as Ehlinger looks for low-risk passes. We’re OVER 21.5 on this one.
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