Colts bench Ryan, to start Foles vs. Chargers

INDIANAPOLIS — Just days after yielding the biggest comeback victory in NFL history, the Indianapolis Colts are making yet another quarterback change ahead of Monday night’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Veteran Nick Foles will take the reins from Matt Ryan, whose continued struggles played a significant role in the Colts’ epic collapse against the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday.

“Just didn’t feel like we made enough plays offensively,” interim coach Jeff Saturday said of the Colts’ 39-36 loss to the Vikings in which they blew a 33-point halftime lead. “It’s no secret. We haven’t converted in the red zone. And ultimately you’ve gotta make plays in the NFL and we’re not making nearly enough explosive plays.”

The goal is to start Foles for the final three games, Saturday said.

“Hopefully, he plays well enough and leaves no doubt,” Saturday said. “That’s the intent.”

The change is the third of the season at starting quarterback for Indianapolis. The Colts deployed Ryan for the first seven weeks before benching him for 2021 sixth-round pick Sam Ehlinger. The Colts then reinstated Ryan as the starter in Saturday’s first game, against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 10, before ultimately moving away from him again this week.

Foles had been promoted from No. 3 quarterback to No. 2 in the past two weeks, sharing scout-team reps with Ehlinger. But when he took the field for Wednesday’s practice, it was the first time he’d shared the field with the starting offense since training camp.

When the Colts moved to Ehlinger as the starter, Foles was demoted to the No. 3 quarterback and seemed unlikely to ever get a shot to play this season. Now, he’ll make his first start for the team on Monday night.

“I think with my career path, if you always expect something, it’s just going to throw you for a loop — especially here,” said Foles, the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl LII with the Philadelphia Eagles. “You never know what’s going to happen each week.”

Foles’ career has been the embodiment of that given his emergence in 2017, when he stepped in for the Eagles after Carson Wentz’s season-ending injury and quarterbacked them to a championship.

Meanwhile, Ryan’s career is at a crossroads. He came to Indianapolis to assume a role under center for what he thought was a team primed for possible postseason success. Instead, he’s been at the helm of one of the league’s worst offenses and leads the NFL in interceptions (13). Ryan ranks 25th in QBR with 43.6.

“From a player perspective, it’s hard,” Saturday said. “And when you want to be performing at a level and it’s not getting there, it’s devastating for players. But here’s the reality: We all come to that point. And you hate that. That’s where it is.

“But again, Matt has no back-down, man. Had Matt been the guy, he’d be out there fighting each and every day doing exactly what he’s supposed to do.”

The quarterback change is just the latest twist for a team that has endured constant change this season. Offensive coordinator Marcus Brady was fired in November, coach Frank Reich was dismissed a week later and Saturday — who was an ESPN analyst at the time and had never coached beyond the high school level — was hired to replace Reich on an interim basis.

You might be interested in