The Indianapolis Colts signed quarterbacks Josh Freeman and Ryan Lindley on Tuesday. On Sunday, they both played against the Tennessee Titans and helped the Colts to a 30-24 victory over their division rival in their final game of the season.
It was also almost certainly the final game of the Chuck Pagano era, bringing his four-year run with the organization to a close. In his four seasons with the Colts, Pagano's team compiled a 41-23 regular season record (.641) and a 3-3 postseason record while making three playoff berths and winning two AFC South titles. This year, while playing without Andrew Luck for nine games, the Colts still managed an 8-8 record - which, though it falls short of a playoff berth, is not a bad record whatsoever when playing without your franchise quarterback for half of the season. Pagano did a lot of good things with the Colts, and while it's probably the right time to move on he still deserves a nice send-off. He's a great guy who deserves a classy farewell, and the Colts sent him out the right way today with a victory for their head coach. Interestingly, as WGN's Larry Hawley pointed out, Jerrell Freeman scored on a pick-six in both the first and (likely) last games of the Chuck Pagano era in Indy.
Anyway, back to today's game, the Colts actually played an entertaining football game that deserves a ton of credit, especially considering the circumstances. Andrew Luck? Out with a kidney/abdominal issue for the seventh straight week. Matt Hasselbeck? Out with shoulder, rib, back, and jaw injuries. Charlie Whitehurst? Out with a hamstring injury. So this week, the Colts signed Josh Freeman and Ryan Lindley as free agents on Tuesday to join Stephen Morris as the healthy quarterbacks - who was signed a week earlier. Freeman hadn't thrown a pass in an NFL game in two years, but he got the start. Lindley was the team's quarterback in the two-minute situation, and both Freeman and Lindley did a lot of good things. Freeman completed 15 of 28 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown with an interception (that went through Boom Herron's hands) and added 28 yards on five rushes, while Ryan Lindley was 6 of 10 for 58 yards and a touchdown. Those aren't stunning numbers, but considering the fact that they were both signed this week, that is easily good enough. Give offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen a ton of credit for this game - they had the quarterbacks ready enough. It wasn't overly great, but it was more than good enough.
The Colts' defense also did a solid job on the day - particularly inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman. The free agent-to-be had what some call a "pay me" game as he recorded two sacks and a pick-six on the day, coming up huge for the Colts. Kendall Langford and T.Y. McGill both recorded a sack as well. The Titans' offense didn't present a huge test (Alex Tanney, the former Colts' practice squad quarterback, did some good things), but still give credit to the defense.
The Titans will now officially pick first in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Colts will likely move on from head coach Chuck Pagano within the next 24 hours, but they send him out with a victory as they improve to 8-8 on the year with a 30-24 victory over the Titans.