More good news for Indianapolis Colts fans. Center Ryan Kelly will miss an undisclosed amount of time, into the regular season for sure, after having to have foot surgery. This obviously poses a major issue with the Colts offense for the season. Not only do we not have a solid idea of when Andrew Luck will return to action, now we don’t have one of the best young centers in the league to protect whoever fills in while Luck is out.
Others along the line, including Joe Haeg, Denzelle Good just to name a couple, have been missing crucial practice time as well. When you add in that Brian Schwenke, who was supposed to be the team’s utility interior lineman, has been on the PUP since camp started, it’s plain to see that things are already getting ugly.
We hear out of the organization that if Luck is out for the beginning of the season it’s likely that Scott Tolzien will be the Colts starter come Week 1, but that seems problematic from everything we’ve seen from him since being signed last season.
Granted, Tolzien had a solid game against the Pittsburgh Steelers when Luck was out for a game but he didn’t offer much in the way of a threat any way you slice it.
This year in training camp we’ve seen this love affair with Phillip Walker and I have to believe that it was pretty obvious that he isn’t NFL caliber, and would be a serious liability if he were to ever see the field in a regular season game. Everything would have to be designed around a short passing game with the only hope for a big play to put points on the board. The Los Angeles Rams would crowd the box and the running backs would get destroyed on a regular basis.
Tolzien, despite his okay performance in the regular season last year, is a statue who also needs to have a specific dip in the playbook to even get the offense off of the ground. He doesn’t go downfield, and for the most part he’s pretty inaccurate, or at least that’s what he’s proven to be thus far donning the horseshoe. Why would we expect anything else?
On the other hand, Stephen Morris adds a dynamic to the Colts offense similar to that which Andrew Luck can display. No, I am not comparing the two, but I am saying that without Luck’s mobility he’d have been sacked well over 200 times as opposed to the already insane 156 he’s currently had to endure.
I know we’ve only seen one game from Tolzien under the bright lights and Morris hasn’t had that opportunity with the Colts, but we’ve gotten a pretty solid chunk of attempts from both under the dim lights of the preseason to see what they both offer. Here’s what the two did last year in the preseason:
41/72 (56.9%) 389 passing yards (5.4 YPA/9.49 YPC) 2TD/INT
39/61 (63.9%) 531 passing yards (8.7 YPA/13.6 YPC) 4TD/2INT, 8 rushes for 50 yards, TD
Morris has done significantly better in almost every statistical category, and it’s not even close. The eyeball test also suggests that Morris is cooler on the field as well, more poised, collected with a better overall skill set from top to bottom.
Is there any clearer picture of what Morris’ abilities offer to the Colts offense? He’s a better passer on the move, he has a noticeably stronger arm, he’s significantly more accurate, he knows the playbook every bit as well as Tolzien – based on time with the team and logical assumption – he’s more of a threat to go downfield, he can escape pressure and his skills would allow more latitude with Rob Chudzinski’s offense.
Whatever the issue is with the coaching staff trying to buffalo the fans into thinking that Tolzien offers the Colts the best opportunity to win in Luck’s absence, or that Morris may logically be behind Walker on the depth chart has yet to be proven on the field. The pressure is coming in Week 1 in Los Angeles. We don’t have a great grasp on what the rest of the offensive line can do at this juncture, but we know for certain that they’re not as good as they would be with Kelly in the lineup.
Relying on Tolzien to not throw the ball to the other team, to somehow escape that impending pressure or to even keep the chains moving for that matter appears to be an unrealistic projection to say the least. At least with Morris, plays can be extended when the protection breaks down from a less-than-healthy offensive line.
I thought this was supposed to be a competition at every position, and I can’t remember the last time any team got credit for winning a game for how somebody played in practice. On the field, with another team across the line of scrimmage, Morris has vastly outplayed Tolzien in every aspect and the team deserves to have the best available guy on the field at each position when the scoreboard is keeping track.