Feb 25, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard speaks to the media during the 2020 NFL Combine in the Indianapolis Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Colts GM does not commit to Carson Wentz for 2022

Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard on Thursday said he does not regret acquiring Carson Wentz, however he appeared to stop considerably short of committing to the quarterback for the 2022 season.

“When we made the decision to make a move on Carson, at the time of the decision, we felt good about it,” Ballard said at the season-ending press conference. “And I still don’t regret the decision at the time. … I won’t make a comment on who’s going to be here next year and who’s not going to be here next year.”

Wentz, 29, reunited with Frank Reich when he joined the Colts at the start of the league year in March. Indianapolis, in turn, parted ways with a first- and third-round pick in the deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Wentz became the latest starter in a rapidly spinning quarterback carousel that has included Andrew Luck (retired), Jacoby Brissett (Miami Dolphins) and Philip Rivers (retired). Rivers played one season with the Colts, leading the team to the playoffs in 2020 before ending his career.

Ballard referenced the team’s ever-changing quarterback situation on Thursday.

“I’d like to quit band-aiding it,” Ballard said. “I’d like for Carson to be the long-term answer or for somebody to be here for the next 10 years. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.”

Reich didn’t give Wentz much of a vote of confidence on Monday when asked if the latter would be the starting quarterback next season.

“Next year’s roster will be next year’s roster. I don’t want to open it up about one player and then start talking about all of them,” Reich said. “… We’ll take it piece by piece. We’ll evaluate (Wentz’s) play. We’ll evaluate how we’re coaching him, how I’m coaching him, with each position in the pass game. Take it apart piece by piece, and then put it back together. … We’ve got to be better in the passing game. It was definitely below our standards, and there’s multiple reasons for that. We have to take ownership of that as coaches and players.”

Wentz threw for 3,563 yards with 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 17 games this season. The Colts, however, lost their final two games of the season, including a disastrous 26-11 setback to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

Colts owner Jim Irsay released a statement Wednesday in which he apologized to the fans for the team’s finish to the season.

“We ended our season in perhaps the worst way possible and missed our chance to compete for history,” Irsay said in the statement.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus talks with linebacker Darius Leonard (53) during the Colts training camp at Grand Park in Westfield on Monday, August 6, 2018.

Indianapolis Colts Training Camp At Grand Park In Westfield

Reports: Jags, Bears to interview Colts DC Matt Eberflus

The Bears and Jaguars want to interview Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, multiple outlets reported Tuesday.

Eberflus will interview for Jacksonville’s head coaching job on Saturday, and Chicago has requested a meeting with the Indianapolis assistant coach, per the reports.

Eberflus, 51, just finished his fourth season leading the Colts defense and has interviewed for past vacancies with the New York Jets, Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns.

He previously coached the linebackers for the Browns (2009-10) and Dallas Cowboys (2011-17). He was the defensive coordinator at Missouri from 2001-08 and was on staff at his alma mater Toledo from 1992-2000.

The Colts (9-8) were eliminated from the playoff picture with a disastrous 26-11 loss Sunday at Jacksonville (3-14).

Indianapolis finished 16th in the NFL in total defense (343.2 yards per game) and ninth in scoring defense (21.5 points per game) in 2021.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell (1) warms up before the team's game against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Indianapolis Colts At Baltimore Ravens At M T Bank Stadium In Baltimore Maryland Monday Night Football Oct 11 2021

Colts activate WR Parris Campbell from IR

Indianapolis activated wide receiver Parris Campbell from injured reserve, clearing him to play Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars as the Colts look to clinch a wild-card playoff berth.

Campbell, in his third NFL season, went on IR on Oct. 19 after breaking his foot in a Week 6 win over the Houston Texans. He was designated to return from IR on Dec. 31.

This season, Campbell, 24, has played in five games (three starts) and has caught 10 passes for 162 yards and one touchdown.

The Colts selected the former Ohio State receiver in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He’s played 14 career games (eight starts) and has 34 receptions for 360 yards and two TDs plus six carries for 50 yards and seven kickoff returns for 175 yards.

The team also elevated cornerback Anthony Chesley (standard elevation), safety Will Redmond (COVID-19 replacement) and defensive tackle Chris Williams (standard elevation) to the active roster from the practice squad for Sunday’s game.

Indianapolis (9-7) will clinch a playoff berth with a win or tie at Jacksonville (2-14). The Colts still have a path to the playoffs should they lose, but they’d require help from other teams.

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (10) catches the ball while Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II (23) defends  in the second half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Snapping Jacksonville jinx gets Colts into postseason

On paper, the Indianapolis Colts should be a lock for a Week 18 win and a spot in the AFC playoffs.

After all, Indianapolis (9-7) gets to finish the season at the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14), who have lost eight straight games and will be on the clock for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft with one more loss.

But the Colts have just one number on their minds, and it’s not the 15 1/2 points the Vegas sharps have them favored by.

It’s six — their current losing streak when playing at TIAA Bank Field.

“We don’t play good down there. So, we better find a way, or we’re going to be out,” said wide receiver T.Y. Hilton.

That includes a season-opening defeat to Jacksonville last year, which turned out to be the only game the Jaguars won in 2020. Firing Doug Marrone and replacing him with Urban Meyer led to a much-ballyhooed change in culture that lasted 13 games, long enough for Meyer to become the latest college coach to ignominiously flop when asked to win in the pros.

But through mostly thin times with occasional thick mixed in, like a surprising 2017 trip to the AFC Championship Game, Jacksonville has had Indianapolis’ number at home.

“It’s the elephant in the room; we address it and we prepare,” Colts safety Khari Willis said. “It’s not something we go around talking about all day in our meetings or anything like that, but it’s something we acknowledge.”

This might not be such a big deal if the Colts had taken care of business last week. But they couldn’t hang on to a fourth-quarter lead and suffered a 23-20 home loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on a last-play field goal.

While Indianapolis aims to assure itself of a Week 19, the Jaguars have nothing to lose except their 15th game.

The club is already planning for 2022, reportedly meeting with head coach candidates Doug Pederson, Jim Caldwell and Todd Bowles. All three have NFL coaching experience and Pederson guided the Eagles to their only Super Bowl victory four years ago.

Whoever gets the job has some pieces in place, like No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence from last year’s draft. But it’s been a rough rookie year for Lawrence as he’s tossed seven more interceptions (17) than touchdowns (10).

Last week’s 50-10 loss at New England was another 3-hour dose of initiation rites for Lawrence. While he threw his first touchdown pass since Nov. 28, he was also intercepted three times for his fifth multi-pick game of the year.

“I really do feel I’ve been through more than a lot of people can say they’ve been through in their first season,” Lawrence said. “Obviously, you don’t want to go through what we’ve gone through again this year. I know there’s some really good days ahead.”

Lawrence had a chance to lead a game-winning drive on Nov. 14 when the teams played in Indianapolis, but he was strip-sacked at the Colts’ 45 with 50 seconds left to seal a 23-17 loss.

This will be the 42nd meeting between the teams. Indianapolis boasts a 26-15 series lead.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, right, during day 6 of the Colts preseason training camp practice at Grand Park in Westfield on Wednesday, July 31, 2019.

Colts Preseason Training Camp

Colts DC Matt Eberflus plans to beat Jaguars, then interview to be HC

Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus plans to continue preparations for beating the Jacksonville Jaguars rather than prioritizing an interview to replace Urban Meyer as the franchise’s head coach.

Eberflus said Tuesday he wants to keep his focus on the Colts and making the postseason, extracting himself from the interview process with the Jaguars prior to the regular-season finale.

Eberflus is in his fourth season as defensive coordinator of the Colts and previously interviewed for vacancies with the New York Jets, Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns.

An NFL rule change for this coaching cycle permits assistant coaches to conduct interviews for head coaching vacancies in the final two weeks of the regular season rather than delaying those talks until mid-January.

“That situation came up last week when the slip came through to speak to them,” Eberflus said Tuesday afternoon. “We decided as an organization – Chris (Ballard) and I and Frank (Reich) – that we were going to postpone that until afterwards. We’re just focusing on this week. Obviously playing to get into the playoffs.”

Eberflus, 51, said he’s still interested in joining the interview process in Jacksonville. The Jaguars requested permission to interview more than a dozen coaches.

Former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, formerly head coach of the New York Jets, already interviewed with the team.

Former Colts and Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett are also known candidates.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA;  Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman (11) catches the ball and is stopped on the one yard line by Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Divine Deablo (5) in the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Late field goal gives Raiders pivotal win over Colts

Daniel Carlson converted a 33-yard field goal Sunday as time expired, lifting the Las Vegas Raiders to a 23-20 win over the host Indianapolis Colts.

The Colts (9-7) tied the score on Michael Badgley’s 41-yard field goal with 1:56 left, but Las Vegas (9-7) drove 60 yards in 10 plays to set up Carlson’s second game-winner during its three-game winning streak that’s kept its AFC playoff hopes alive.

The big play on the winning drive was Derek Carr’s 24-yard completion to Hunter Renfrow that moved the ball to the Indianapolis 24-yard line. Three Josh Jacobs runs ran the clock down to two seconds, setting the stage for Carlson.

Carr completed 24 of 31 passes for 255 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, while Zay Jones caught eight passes for 120 yards. The Raiders outgained the Colts 326-262.

NFL rushing leader Jonathan Taylor did his part for Indianapolis with 108 yards and a touchdown in 20 carries. Quarterback Carson Wentz, who was released out of COVID-19 protocol on Saturday and formally cleared to play on Sunday, hit 16 of 27 passes for 148 yards and a 45-yard touchdown to T.Y. Hilton in the third quarter to give the Colts a 17-13 lead.

Las Vegas controlled most of the first half, starting with a 12-play, 75-yard drive to begin the game that chewed up 7:09 of clock. Jacobs capped it with a 2-yard run.

Carlson increased the lead to 10-0 just 48 seconds into the second quarter with a 47-yard field goal, seven plays after a 41-yard punt return by Renfrow set the Raiders up at the Indianapolis 35.

Badgley converted from 46 yards away with 10:07 left in the first half to get the Colts on the board, but Las Vegas restored a 10-point lead when Carlson drilled a 44-yard field goal with 1:47 left.

However, Indianapolis worked its way into contention with a 60-yard drive that culminated with Taylor’s 1-yard run with one second on the clock, slicing its deficit to 13-10.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) gets water during a timeout against Arizona, Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

Indianapolis Colts At Arizona Cardinals At State Farm Stadium In Glendale Ariz On Saturday Dec 25 2021 Christmas Day Nfl

Colts’ Carson Wentz (COVID-19) moves closer to playing vs. Raiders

The Indianapolis Colts activated Carson Wentz from the COVID-19 list on Saturday, keeping the door open for the quarterback to be available for Sunday’s home game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Per NFL guidelines, Wentz had to be activated by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday to have a chance to play. Wentz, who is unvaccinated, reportedly needs to clear testing protocol on Sunday to be able to take the field.

Wentz will start for the Colts (9-6) if he clears protocol. Otherwise, rookie Sam Ehlinger will make his first career start.

Wentz, who turned 29 on Thursday, has thrown for 3,230 yards with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions in 15 games this season.

Ehlinger was a sixth-round selection in the 2021 draft out of Texas. He hasn’t thrown an NFL pass in three appearances.

Indianapolis also activated cornerback T.J. Carrie and right tackle Braden Smith from the COVID-19 list and waived center Joey Hunt and tackle Greg Senat.

Among the Colts’ other moves on Saturday was elevating quarterback Brett Hundley from the practice squad as a COVID-19 replacement.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts safety Jahleel Addae (41) warms up to face the Texans on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Indianapolis Colts Versus Houston Texans On Sunday Dec 5 2021 At Nrg Stadium In Houston Texas

Colts take S Jahleel Addae, RB Marlon Mack off COVID list

The Indianapolis Colts activated safety Jahleel Addae and running back Marlon Mack from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday.

Starting quarterback Carson Wentz and six others remain in the health and safety protocol, including three members of the practice squad.

The Colts (9-6) trail the AFC South-leading Tennessee Titans by one game entering Sunday’s Week 17 contest against the visiting Las Vegas Raiders (8-7).

Addae, 31, made his first start of the season on Christmas Day and registered six tackles in the Colts’ 22-16 win at Arizona. He has 13 tackles in seven appearances this season.

Mack, 25, has rushed 28 times for 101 yards in six games.

In addition to Wentz, the Colts’ COVID-19 list includes cornerback T.J. Carrie, linebacker Malik Jefferson and right tackle Braden Smith. The three players on the practice squad/COVID list are quarterback James Morgan, tight end Eli Wolf and cornerback Chris Wilcox.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Darius Leonard (53) celebrates after making an interception Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, during a game against the New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Colts’ Darius Leonard, two others activated from COVID list

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard, wide receiver Zach Pascal and safety Khari Willis were activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday.

Quarterback Carson Wentz and five other active roster players remain on the COVID-19 list for the Colts (9-6), who will host the Las Vegas Raiders (8-7) on Sunday.

Leonard, 26, was placed on the list before Indianapolis’ 22-16 victory over the Arizona Cardinals last Saturday.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time All-Pro, Leonard has 107 tackles, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and three interceptions in 14 games this season.

Leonard has 523 tackles, 15 sacks, 15 forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries in 56 career games with the Colts.

Pascal, 27, has 36 catches for 369 yards with three touchdowns in 14 games this season.

Willis, 25, has 54 tackles, two interceptions and 1.5 sacks in nine games (eight starts) this season.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) warms up on the field before facing the Texans on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Indianapolis Colts Versus Houston Texans On Sunday Dec 5 2021 At Nrg Stadium In Houston Texas

Carson Wentz’s status may determine Raiders-Colts winner

Will he, or won’t he?

That’s the question regarding Carson Wentz and a whole lot of Indianapolis Colts as they aim to clinch a playoff spot Sunday at home against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Wentz, whose mostly mistake-free play at quarterback has helped Indianapolis rebound from an 0-3 start to pull within a game of the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South, was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. The team has put 15 players on the list in the last week.

If he emerges from protocol by kickoff, Wentz could still play. With the Colts holding all meetings virtually this week, Wentz can still prepare for the game as though he’s going to play.

Should Wentz not get clearance, rookie Sam Ehlinger will make his first career start in a pressurized situation against a team making its own playoff push. Not optimal by any means, but coach Frank Reich has confidence Ehlinger can get the job done if his number is called.

It will help that Ehlinger will take all the practice reps this week with Wentz isolating at home.

“It’s a great opportunity for Sam,” Reich said. “He’s been getting his share of reps and a lot of scout-team reps and all the fundamental and technique work. So, this will be a good opportunity for him to get the team reps.”

Reich confirmed on Wednesday that he talked to 17-year NFL quarterback Philip Rivers, who retired after playing for Indianapolis last year, about coming out of retirement. But Rivers, now a high school football coach in Alabama, is not planning to return to action.

Whoever runs the offense, Indianapolis’ goal will stay the same. It will build its attack around running back Jonathan Taylor, the NFL’s leading rusher, and then try to sting Las Vegas with play-action throws down the field.

Taylor and his 1,626 yards have been a prime reason why the Colts (9-6) are considered dangerous if they make the postseason. He compiled 108 yards on 27 carries on Christmas night in a 22-16 win at Arizona.

That the Raiders (8-7) are still in contention might be surprising to some who thought their chances were toast after losing five of six games. But consecutive wins over fellow playoff hopefuls Cleveland and Denver have revived their chances.

Las Vegas’ defense, which has been middle-of-the-pack in terms of yards allowed per game, saved its best game for last week’s 17-13 decision over the Broncos. It limited Denver to 18 yards on the ground and 158 yards total, permitting only eight first downs.

Interim coach Rich Bisaccia praised his team’s approach to preparing for games as though things were normal in a period where the pandemic is rearranging rosters and depth charts daily.

“We haven’t been exempt from it, what happened to us last week, and we’re certainly expecting things to happen as the week goes on,” he said. “The mentality we’re going to have right now is everybody practices to play.”

The Raiders lead the all-time series 9-8, although Indianapolis routed them 44-27 on Dec. 13, 2020 in Las Vegas.

–Field Level Media