Sam Ehlinger has now started and finished a game for the Indianapolis Colts. How should fans feel about the team’s new quarterback?
On Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts gave Sam Ehlinger his first NFL start. With Indy’s plan to start Ehlinger for the remainder of the year, this was just Sam’s first impression as QB1. So, how did he do? Obviously, the Colts lost but how did Sam Ehlinger play? Is he going to be the franchise quarterback of the future or should Indianapolis be sending scouts to watch Bryce Young and CJ Stroud play this Saturday?
Honestly, it’s too small of a sample size for a definitive answer but Ehlinger’s first start can be characterized as promising. He didn’t come in and blow everyone away but it was clear why the Colts felt comfortable starting him despite his experience. Ehlinger played with great composure and was able to use both his legs and arms to make big plays on Sunday.
Sam finished the game completing 17-of-23 passes for 201 yards and added just 15 rushing yards on six carries, though, his best run of the day was called back for a hold. Ehlinger didn’t throw any touchdowns or interceptions but he was sacked twice and had one lost fumble.
Are the Colts better with Sam Ehlinger at quarterback?
The natural question to ask is: is the offense better with Ehlinger at quarterback over Matt Ryan? It’s still really too soon to tell. Indianapolis only put up 16 points but to be fair, the offense was moving the ball well on Sunday but drives were ending in costly mistakes. That’s similar to what was happening when Ryan was starting at QB. So while it may not have been clear that Ehlinger was a flat-out better option, he also didn’t appear to be a regression from Ryan, which is good news.
The thing that Ehlinger did do noticeably better than Ryan was, use his legs. Although he only had 15 rushing yards, Sam did a great job at extending plays and escaping pressure in order to connect with receivers while he was on the move. Him being a running threat also helped hold some defenders when Jonathan Taylor was getting a handoff, allowing more space for Taylor to make something happen.
There were some designed runs and read-options sprinkled into the game plan for Ehlinger and hopefully, that’s something that Frank Reich includes even more in the coming weeks. Allowing a dual-threat quarterback to run and make plays outside the pocket doesn’t just make an offense more exciting but it puts defenses in conflict, making the offense more productive. If this offense can become even more productive in the coming weeks behind Ehlinger’s arm and legs, he may just secure himself a spot as Indy’s quarterback for years to come.