As he walked off the field after the Colts’ third preseason game Saturday night to a shower of angry, sad and misplaced boos and the vibe of understandable frustration from Colts fans, Andrew Luck knew he had flipped Indianapolis’ whole team, season and future upside down.
“It hurt, I’ll be honest,” Luck said of the boos in his retirement press conference after the game.
The boos are crappy. Luck was unbelievable during his time as a Colt and went through hell while doing it, the main cause for his retirement. He sacrificed as much as he could for the team, and it reached a point where he couldn’t take it any more. He did all he possibly could.
Booing wasn’t the best way to get the point across. You’d hope that most Colts fans would have the reaction of “What the heck just happened?!?” rather than “You quit on us!”, but there is going to be that second crowd.
You’d hope that the boos were angry and confused ones rather than mean-spirited ones. The crowd can’t just yell “What the heck, dude?!?”, and boos, whether they’re too harsh for a specific situation, are what fans use to express anything with a negative connotation. For the Colts and their fans, there is hardly anything positive that comes out of this stunning decision.
The Colts are in a similar situation to the one the Minnesota Vikings were in about a year and a half ago: They have a Super Bowl roster with no quarterback.
The odds that Jacoby Brissett is a quarterback that can maximize this Colts roster and lead them to the success we projected for them are low. The Colts like Brissett, and he’s certainly not terrible, but he’s likely somewhere between the 25th and 35th best quarterback in the league. You need at least an average quarterback to have a defense carry you. The Colts don’t have the type of defense yet that’s going to carry an average quarterback to those heights, and Brissett being just average may be a little too much to ask.
Brissett could surprise and be average or slightly better, but that’s a fine line and producing slightly below it could waste the rest of the roster. The Colts should learn from what the Vikings did and not go out and get someone who’s just good enough.
They also need a quarterback who can not only keep them at the status they were at with Luck at the helm but also be a fixture for the future. That probably crosses off a panic trade, especially since the options there are limited. There are two unlikely but wildly entertaining options exist in the Dolphins and Saints though.
There’s a hilarious and insane mix of names between these two teams, and I think all could make sense despite their lows odds and obvious drawbacks. Keeping Drew Brees in a dome would curb some of the decline concerns we have regarding him this season. The Saints believe their window is now, and they certainly wouldn’t trade Brees two weeks before the season, but if they are worried about Brees playing like a 40-year-old this season, and trust Teddy Bridgewater enough to take over the offense (I would!), then making the Colts pay a boatload for Brees in a win-now panic move may not be a bad idea.
Or, the Colts could call about Bridgewater, who the Saints would likely be reluctant to give up given Brees’ age and decline he showed toward the end of last year. Bridgewater is a free agent at the end of the year. If the Saints want to keep Brees around after this season, they can’t pay Bridgewater what he’d demand, so getting value for him now would be smart. At the same time, Bridegwater’s free agency should make the Colts more leery. They have the opportunity to put this loaded roster around a quarterback on a rookie contract still. That’s perhaps the most valuable asset in football. Why pass that up?
The Dolphins have not committed to Josh Rosen not only as their starter but as their long-term quarterback. I’m not sure it was exactly their plan to have Rosen be embedded in a quarterback battle with Ryan Fitzpatrick, as they were going to give Rosen this season to prove himself before deciding whether they wanted to make him their guy or whether they wanted to take one of the two generational talents coming up in the next two drafts (There’s been a lot of rumors about the Dolphins LOVING Tua Tagovailoa). Flipping him now to a team that really needs a QB would maximize value and allow the Dolphins to set their sights on Tua or Trevor Lawrence, and initiate a true tank.
I’m not giving up on Rosen whatsoever, but the Colts would have to be quite confident in his ability. Again, the Colts can’t miss with their next guy. This roster is too good. Rosen hasn’t exactly impressed with Miami so far, which isn’t a good sign considering the change of scenery and the revenge factor. His camp gave off vibes of a disaster.
The Colts could get Rosen for cheaper than the Dolphins did from Arizona, and I’m sure Miami would do it. But Indy would have to be absolutely sure.
Despite the feasibility and amount of fun these moves would be, none are good options compared what the Colts should actually do: Tank, and challenge Miami for the No. 1 pick and steal one of their guys.
The question for the Colts then becomes: Who do you like more?
Tanking this season could actually be tough. As I said above, I don’t think Brissett is terrible. It would be quite surprising for him to be so bad that it earns the Colts a top four pick or so.
This is looking quite far ahead, and I know they’re in different drafts, but I like Lawrence quite a bit more than Tagovailoa (And I do like both, by the way).
Tanking for Lawrence, or essentially, waiting to tank until next season would give the Colts this year to evaluate Brissett and make sure he’s not anything special.
The downside to waiting for Lawrence as opposed to going for Tagovailoa this year is that it makes a young core older. If the Colts want Lawrence, you’re throwing away two seasons and then hoping Lawrence can have a Mahomes-like impact in year one, because by then, your young guys now are older, and are going to be needing pay-days.
But with Lawrence on a rookie deal, you have that extra money around. You’re not paying Lawrence the money deserves right away You get four cheap years; most second-contract guys get extensions of four-to-five years when their rookie deal is close to up, so really, it’s a wash.
The Colts kind of have to panic here. Smartly panic, but panic. Indy is in good shape, but the engine behind everything they’ve built is now gone. They have to replace it, and soon, for this team to remain right side up.