The Indianapolis Colts are heading on the road to take on the Carolina Panthers in week nine. Both teams came into the season with a high level of excitement bolstered by their new rookie quarterbacks. Unfortunately, that excitement has fizzled for both franchises halfway through the season. One due to an unfortunate injury to their dynamic signal-caller, and the other due to an underwhelming team performance on the field.
Bryce Young has struggled through his rookie campaign to date, amassing 1,202 yards with a 5.6 yards per attempt and 7 touchdowns. Coming out of the draft, Young was touted as the most pro-ready of the quarterbacks, and while any rookie has a steep learning curve, it was supposed to go better than this. It was especially supposed to go better than this with the quarterback whisperer, Frank Reich. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Reich has been unable to get much juice out of the young gun.
The same quarterback whisperer who encouraged his team to “climb the mountain” while believing he could get Jacoby Brissett, Carson Wentz, and Matt Ryan to new heights, only to watch them come crashing down, is now at the helm of a quickly crumbling Panther’s season. While Reich seems like an outstanding human being, I am not sure of his ability to transform a quarterback and team into a Super Bowl contender. After winning last week, the Panthers now sit at 1-6 with the second overall pick in the 2024 draft. Except, not really. They traded that pick as part of the king’s random to acquire Young.
All would be forgiven regarding the lack of draft capital if the light could be seen at the end of the tunnel. The Panthers are 27th in yards per game at 284.6 and are scoring 18.1 per contest. In comparison, Shane Steichen’s led Colts sit at 8th with 362.4 yards per game with a scoring average of 25.6. Both coaches came into new environments, with flawed rosters, and rookie quarterbacks. Neither team was expected to be world beaters this year, but Steichen seems to be outperforming his predecessor.
With the exception of one game, Reich has retained the services of his starting quarterback. Steichen has had to completely change his approach when his starter hardly played an eighth of the season. Putting up nearly 80 more yards, an additional touchdown, and being the only team in the league to score more than 20 points per game almost exclusively with your backup quarterback is truly remarkable.
Personally, I think most Colts fans appreciated the way Reich went about his business as a professional and respected him as a person. With that said, I am not sure too many people would enjoy going back to the days of Reich after what we have seen from Steichen. Things became too stale, and the cute trick plays that normally backfired became old. It was time for both parties to move on and many fans are glad we did. If Steichen can achieve these results with this team, just imagine what the future might hold.