If you are expecting a well-played game this Sunday, I would advise you to not watch the regular season finale between the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans. The Titans will be starting Zach Mettenberger at quarterback, but they have the advantage: we still have no idea who will start for the Colts, but it will almost certainly be a player who wasn't even on the roster two weeks ago.
Andrew Luck has already been ruled out, while Matt Hasselbeck is very unlikely to play either. Charlie Whitehurst, who backed up Hasselbeck for the past six weeks, was placed on injured reserve on Monday. That left only Stephen Morris, but the Colts then signed free agents Josh Freeman and Ryan Lindley on Tuesday. So now the decision is between Morris, Freeman, and Lindley. Yeah, that's really where we're at right now.
According to CBS4's Mike Chappell, Josh Freeman and Ryan Lindley "shared the majority of reps with the No. 1 offense Wednesday."
Head coach Chuck Pagano acknowledged as much in his press conference on Wednesday, noting that the Colts need to get their new quarterbacks up to speed as quickly as possible. The decision on who to start, he said, might not come until Sunday morning. At this point, the Colts are evaluating what their quarterbacks do in practice and are trying to help acclimate them to the offense.
"I don't think they left the building," Pagano said of the new quarterbacks upon their arrival. "I don't think the coaches did either. They did a great job prepping these guys and getting them ready to go. It brought a ton of energy and it was great for the entire team to see two guys like that come in here, two pros, two competitors come in and cram session and learn the offense in a short period of time. It wasn't obviously the whole thing, but to be able to run it at practice like that and not have quarterback-center exchange issues, balls on the ground, this, that and the other, false starts. I mean, it was pretty clean. It was a great job."
Pagano praised the job of his coaching staff - he said the Colts have "great coaches" and the "best quarterback coach in the history of the National Football League" in Clyde Christensen - and also the fact that the two quarterbacks brought in are smart guys in saying that he's not surprised that the players are picking things up so quickly.
The other man in the mix at the position is Stephen Morris, who in fact is the longest-tenured of the healthy quarterbacks with the Colts - he's been on the roster for one game. Last week, when the Colts signed Morris off of the Eagles' practice squad, Pagano noted that it was primarily with the future in mind, but might he need to start this week, Pagano sounds confident.
"He's a smart guy," Pagano told Tennessee media, "he's an athletic guy, he can extend plays, he's got a strong arm, good command of the huddle, he's got confidence, good decision maker. Again, he's an athletic guy, so if things break down, you know he can extend some plays. Like I said, he's got arm talent and he knows where to go with the football. He can make all the throws."
The bottom line: the Colts don't know who will start at quarterback on Sunday yet, but they're evaluating their (healthy) options. The biggest thing that is clear, however, is that Chuck Pagano can't remember experiencing this situation at the quarterback position before.
"Some of the guys thought it was training camp," Pagano joked on Wednesday. "I think Frank (Gore) asked me, ‘Looks like we should be in Anderson. It looks like training camp. We've got six red jerseys out there.'"
With practice looking like training camp for the Colts, Sunday's game might look like a preseason game - at least at the quarterback position.