For the Indianapolis Colts, the 2021 offseason began as one that looked promising. The team traded for former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz to have him reunite with his old offensive coordinator, and now current head coach, Frank Reich. However, just this week, things have gone from bad to worse in Indianapolis. The newly acquired Wentz and their three-time All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson both suffered the same foot injuries that require surgery, which will cause them to miss anywhere from 5-12 weeks.
With the regular season just a little over a month away (starting in early September), the Colts are now going to be without both their starting QB and one of the best guards in the NFL for an extended period of time. This means both will miss several games, but it’s possible one may be back sooner than the other depending on how each of them recovers from their respective injuries.
Either way, this is a massive blow for an Indianapolis team that has high hopes of winning the AFC South this year while also competing for a Super Bowl. Not to say that still can’t happen for them but, with these particular injuries to two key players, it may hurt their chances.
In Carson Wentz’s brief five-year NFL career, injuries have plagued him. He has played a full season only twice since being drafted. In 2017, he suffered a torn ACL in a Week 14 game against the LA Rams, which caused him to miss the rest of the regular season and playoffs. We all know what happened next: backup quarterback Nick Foles led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl win in Wentz’s absence. Then, in the following year (2018), he missed the first two regular-season games while continuing to rehab his torn ACL injury which sidelined him the previous year. He went on to start 11 games that season before the team shut him down with a back injury, and was replaced by Foles at quarterback once again. After that, in 2019, he played all 16 regular-season games but was knocked out of the Eagles’ Wild Card game due to a concussion. Finally, in 2020 (his last year in Philly), Wentz played in 12 games for the Eagles and was then benched in favor of Jalen Hurts because of his poor play on the field. He threw a league-high 15 interceptions and suffered an NFL-worst 50 sacks.
On the other hand, Quenton Nelson’s injury could be even more damaging than Wentz’s, as he could’ve at least made things a little bit easier for a group of inexperienced backup quarterbacks if healthy. This group consists of 2020 fourth-round pick Jacob Eason, rookie fifth-round pick Sam Ehlinger, 2020 UDFA Jalen Morton, and newly signed veteran Brett Hundley. Nelson, a former No. 6 overall pick out of Notre Dame, has earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in each of his first three seasons since starting at left guard for the Colts and hasn’t missed a single game since joining the team in 2018. As Indy tries to figure out how to replace Nelson on their offensive line, they’ll have to do so with backup linemen Chris Reed and Will Holden in the mix while deciding whether or not to rotate backup right guards Danny Pinter and rookie seventh-round pick Will Fries to left guard or center for help at those positions. As if that weren’t enough, they’ll also have to wait on free agent signing LT Eric Fisher to recover from his torn Achilles tendon, which has a typical recovery time of about eight months. In the meantime, they’ll have to rely on another free agent signing, Sam Tevi, filling in for him, with the possibility of also getting help from Julie’n Davenport (another free agent signing) once he gets back from the reserve/COVID-19 list.
In addition to the names already mentioned before as possible quarterback replacements for Carson Wentz, the Colts may also choose to try and add a veteran quarterback who will be able to quickly learn the offense and play right away. Possible names out there being rumored are guys like Philip Rivers (who recently said that he could make a comeback midseason if necessary), Nick Foles, Marcus Mariota, Gardner Minshew, and Jimmy Garoppolo. All of them, except for Rivers (who retired after playing for Indy last year), would have to be acquired via trade from their respective teams. As of now, though, it doesn’t look like the team will pursue a trade at the position. That doesn’t mean that signings are out of the question, as indicated by the recent Hundley signing.
Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see how this Indianapolis Colts team looks once the regular season starts. They don’t have much time to figure things out with these two holes in their offense, so they must act fast and make the necessary moves sooner rather than later to remain a playoff contender in the AFC this year.
Edited By: Rupayan “Abs” Samanta.