When the Chicago Bears decided to part ways with quarterback Nick Foles on May 1, the speculation began to swirl around where he would play next.
Coming as a shock to no one, the Indianapolis Colts were at the top of that list. The connection was obvious, as Colts head coach Frank Reich was the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles when Foles was there in 2017. Foles stepped in for an injured Carson Wentz and won the Eagles a Super Bowl championship that year.
The Colts’ starter at quarterback has been set for a while now. After parting ways with Wentz at the start of the league year, the Colts made the move to bring in former NFL MVP Matt Ryan from the Atlanta Falcons.
But questions remained about whether or not the Colts would add a veteran to back up Ryan. The Colts like Sam Ehlinger, who they took in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft and won the backup job as a rookie. But Ehlinger has yet to take a snap in the NFL, and there are questions about his physical limitations.
When asked about potentially adding Foles, Reich did not reveal whether the team was considering him specifically. He also didn’t rule it out.
“We’re always looking at who makes this team better at every position,” Reich said at the time. “Who are the available veterans? Who can we still sign? We’ve talked about this a lot, Chris (Ballard) is very methodical about that process. We’re not in a rush. There is a timing to the way things go and the way the roster is put together that is very intentional.”
The speculation came to an end on Monday when the Colts announced that they had signed Foles to a contract. It is reportedly a two-year deal for the former Super Bowl MVP as he reunites with his old offensive coordinator. He will be the backup to Ryan for the foreseeable future.
The Colts went through 2021 without a proven backup at the quarterback position. While Wentz was the unquestioned starter, Ehlinger and Jacob Eason battled for the backup spot with journeyman Brett Hundley on the practice squad. Ehlinger ultimately won the job, and the Colts cut Eason.
However, the Colts showed with their actions that they held little faith in their backup options. Wentz played with two sprained ankles during Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans instead of the Colts turning to Eason or Hundley (Ehlinger was injured at the time.) Wentz also played Week 17 against the Las Vegas Raiders despite the fact he was only a day removed from coming off the COVID-19 list and clearly not himself.
Both of these games were two of the worst games Wentz played last season. Even with Wentz not 100%, the Colts felt like he gave them a better chance to win than the other healthy options. It was a mistake by the front office and general manager Chris Ballard not to address the issue before the season.
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The move to sign Foles means the Colts will not have to worry about that this season. While Ryan has been incredibly durable throughout his career – he has only missed three games in his 14-year career and only one since 2010 – injuries can happen at any time. The Colts want to be prepared in the unlikely event that Ryan does go down.
Foles is certainly not the quarterback he used to be. As a backup with the Bears last season, he only saw action in one game, going 24-of-35 (68.6%) for 250 yards and a touchdown. But as he did in that game, Foles is still capable of starting in a pinch and winning a game when called upon.
The signing is more proof that the Colts are all-in on winning in 2022. For a team that has deep playoff aspirations, they are not leaving anything to chance and know that each game counts. Adding Foles behind Ryan gives the team insurance and stabilizes the quarterback room for the rest of the season.
With all due respect to Foles, the Colts hope that he does not see the field at all this season. But if he does, Reich and company have confidence that he can come in and give them a fighting chance to win.
The move to sign Foles could have zero impact on what happens this season. On the other hand, it may end up being the difference in whether or not the Colts can capture their first AFC South title in nearly eight years.
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