The Indianapolis Colts stand at 4-2 in the AFC South after a rocky start from their Philip Rivers-led passing attack.
The team signed the longtime Chargers quarterback after a season with Jacoby Brissett at the helm, in the wake of Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement in 2019. But since his signing, both fans and NFL analysts have questioned his play through the first five weeks.
The Colts began their season against a heavily depleted Jaguars team who had lost most of their 2017 playoff stars to trades and free agency.
Rivers threw two interceptions that game — and a third that was negated by a holding penalty on the Jaguars. The Colts, who never punted, lost the game by a score of 27-20.
The eight-time Pro Bowler signed a one-year contract during the offseason to give the Colts some flexibility at the quarterback position, but he’s not their only option. Former starter Brissett is also set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2021, leaving the Colts with only rookie fourth round pick Jacob Eason under contract in 2021.
Unless Rivers, who has seven touchdowns in six games, improves it’s difficult to imagine the Colts keeping him for the long term. The Colts are working with Eason behind the scenes, but there aren’t any guarantees that he’ll be capable of starting. Bringing in another talented passer to compete for the starting role could push Eason or give the Colts a capable starter.
With all of that being considered, the Colts should look to sign a familiar face in the state of Indiana and to the team’s coaching staff: former IU quarterback Nate Sudfeld.
Indiana knows Sudfeld
Sudfeld isn’t just a random quarterback to the Hoosier state, he was a Hoosier himself.
No IU quarterback has more passing yards, touchdowns and 350-yard games than Sudfeld. Quarterbacking the Hoosiers from 2012 to 2015, Sudfeld led the team to the 2015 New Era Pinstripe Bowl in New York City, their first bowl appearance since 2007.
Fans in the state grew familiar with Sudfeld passing to Simmie Cobbs or handing it off to Tevin Coleman in cream and crimson, so doing the same with T.Y. Hilton and Jonathon Taylor in blue and white isn’t too difficult to visualize.
Colts fans across the state already know Sudfeld’s name and what kind of quarterback he is from his time at Indiana, which could provide a sense of calm to a fanbase struck with uncertainty since Luck’s departure.
The Eagles drafted Jalen Hurts in the second round
During this past NFL draft, one of the major questions was when and where quarterback Jalen Hurts of the University of Oklahoma would go. The Eagles answered the question by selecting the polarizing prospect with the 53rd overall pick.
There were questions as to why this pick was made. The Eagles had a clear starter after signing Carson Wentz to a four-year $128 million contract extension, so why take a backup this high?
Philadelphia could use him in the same way that the New Orleans Saints make use of backup Taysom Hill, with special plays designed around his skillset to throw off defenses. Hurts may also serve as more insurance for their injury-prone starter
Either way, the Eagles selected another talented quarterback, which makes the possibility of Sudfeld seeing the field even slimmer with Philadelphia.
The organization has a past with Sudfeld
This wouldn’t be the first time the Colts would look to sign Sudfeld. The organization, led by current general manager Chris Ballard, attempted to sign him to the active roster from the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad in 2017.
The Eagles acted quickly though, wanting to keep Sudfeld around, making room on their roster to promote him to the 53-man squad. Sudfeld served as Nick Foles’ backup during the team’s Super Bowl victory.
The IU product would have had a greater chance at playing time in 2017 had he chosen to sign with Indianapolis, but instead he opted to remain in Philadelphia.
Sudfeld signed with Philly by choice.
After being drafted and cut by the now-Washington Football Team, Sudfeld was offered a spot on the practice squad but chose to take the same opportunity with the Eagles.
The offensive coordinator Sudfeld chose to learn under? None other than current Colts head coach Frank Reich. Reich, like many coaches, has shown a tendency to sign players he’s worked with in the past including Rivers and tight end Trey Burton.
With Ballard having previously tried to sign Sudfeld and Frank Reich being a member of the coaching staff that drew him to Philadelphia, Sudfeld could definitely feel at home in the Circle City.