In news that is not surprising but still puzzling, the Colts have officially listed undrafted rookie Jonotthan Harrison as their starting center for today's game instead of A.Q. Shipley.
This is a move that we wondered about all week, and it's one that we still don't quite understand. It has nothing to do with Harrison, who played well in the preseason as the starting center and who has a lot of potential out of Florida. But to bench Shipley, who had been playing well in the first four games, for Harrison? It doesn't make a ton of sense, but it was something that we expected would happen after listening to Chuck Pagano this week. Here's what I wrote on Friday about the possibility of this move happening:
If I had to make an educated guess, I think that Jonotthan Harrison will be starting at center on Sunday instead of A.Q. Shipley. Let's be sure to note that nothing is official yet, but the sense I get is that a change is coming.
If that really does happen, the question must be asked, "why?" And that's a question I really don't have an answer for. Many have suggested and even reported that it might have something to do with the matchup against the Ravens, but that just seems like an excuse, not a reason. I get that line of thinking, but you don't just bench your center for that reason alone unless you were already considering the move. So why would you bench A.Q. Shipley? He has played well this season in the first four games and has played every single one of the 307 offensive snaps for the Colts so far. Both Chuck Pagano and Andrew Luck have talked extensively about the importance of continuity along the offensive line. While injuries have ruined that the past two weeks a bit, that doesn't mean that keeping Shipley in there would have no effect on the continuity.
Harrison played well in the preseason. But that's much different than thrusting the undrafted rookie into starting a regular season game against the Baltimore Ravens. Much different. I love Harrison's potential, but that doesn't mean they have to start him yet. And what happened to Khaled Holmes? I mean, if they're going to make a change, why not put Holmes in there? I'm not convinced on Khaled Holmes at all yet, as we still haven't gotten to see him really play. So I'm not about to sit here and clamor for him to replace Shipley because, well, Shipley has been good and Holmes is a question mark. But if the team is going to bench Shipley anyway, why would it be for Harrison and not Holmes? On this point, I'm not questioning as much as I'm interested in hearing the reasoning.
But in benching A.Q. Shipley (if that move were to happen)? That's a move I really would question. I find it hard to justify not putting him out there as the starting center when he's healthy, considering how well he has played and the fact that he has been out there for every snap.
In case you're wondering, I still don't get the move. Maybe Harrison will play well and we'll all talk about what a great move it was by Chuck Pagano inserting him into the starting lineup today. But if he doesn't play well, then the questioning that will happen would be justified. What was the Colts' reasoning in starting Harrison today over Shipley? What's going on? Obviously, the Colts feel like Harrison gives them the better chance to win today, and understand this - I really, really like Harrison. But I don't see why benching A.Q. Shipley for him at this point makes sense. Maybe Harrison will play better than Shipley, but it's a big risk.
Ultimately, we'll have to determine by the way Shipley plays today whether it was a good move or not. But right now, there are plenty of questions that fans are asking, and we're asking the same things too. Regardless of the questions, however, undrafted rookie Jonotthan Harrison will start today for the Indianapolis Colts at center.