Two teams searching for answers under center will face off in Indianapolis on Sunday, as the Washington Commanders will go on the road to face the Colts. Washington completed a surprising upset in Week 7 versus the Green Bay Packers, defeating them by a final score of 23-21. The Colts kept their Week 7 game against the Tennessee Titans close, but ended up falling 19-10.
Here are three things we will keep an eye on during this matchup.
How Will The Colts Deploy Ehlinger?
Indianapolis made the bold announcement earlier in the week that they plan to move on from veteran quarterback Matt Ryan for the rest of the season. This was a disappointing admission of defeat by the organization, who brought the experienced signal caller on this offseason to help stabilize the position. Ryan represented another desperate attempt by the Colts to use a band-aid fix, and for now, it looks like they’re just going to rip it off in favor of a younger alternative.
Second year player Sam Ehlinger will get a chance to show what he can do on Sunday, and it will be interesting to see what type of game plan they devise. Ehlinger’s mobility has been talked up all week, which gives him a vastly different skill set than the one Ryan brings to the table. It’s possible that the scheme for this week includes more bootlegs and designed rollouts to get Ehlinger on the move for some easy completions.
Are The Commanders Better With Heinicke?
Washington has had its own problems at quarterback, but their decisions have largely been made for them. The Commanders brought in Carson Wentz from the Colts this offseason, but he’s currently on the shelf with a fractured finger. He’s currently on short term injured reserve, but should return at some point next month.
While Wentz is on the mend, Washington has looked to a retread answer to help fill the void. Taylor Heinicke has been with the team since 2020, and started 15 games for the team last year. He’s not viewed as a long term solution, but Heinicke does seem to give the team a bit of a spark when he’s playing. Even though it came in loss, Heinicke’s most memorable performance came in a Wild Card playoff game a couple of years ago where he played admirably against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Can Jonathan Taylor Get Going?
When announcing their decision to bench Ryan, Colts head coach Frank Reich said that the team did not keep their word when they promised the former Falcons quarterback an elite running game in Indianapolis. It was a brutally honest assessment, but one that is accurate, as running back Jonathan Taylor has only eclipsed 100 yards on the ground once this season.
He’s battled an ankle injury this season, and has had to overcome some underwhelming offensive line play. However, most people expect one of the premier players in the NFL to find his stride again, and Taylor might get back in a groove against Washington.