This New Colts Offensive Wrinkle Will Challenge Patriots’ Defense

Sam Ehlinger is more of a rushing threat than Matt Ryan was


Nov 2, 2022

FOXBORO, Mass. — What can the New England Patriots expect from Sam Ehlinger this Sunday? That’s difficult to predict, since the Indianapolis Colts quarterback will be making just his second career start.

But the move from statuesque veteran Matt Ryan to the younger, nimbler Ehlinger prompted one change to the Colts’ offense that could cause problems for New England.

The Patriots have struggled this season to defend mobile quarterbacks. And while Ehlinger is no Lamar Jackson or Justin Fields, he’s much more of a rushing threat than the 37-year-old Ryan was.

“They’ve added some quarterback running-type plays in there, which obviously we haven’t been great against this year,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said in his Wednesday news conference. “So we’ll see how that goes.”

Ehlinger ran the ball five times in Sunday’s 17-16 loss to the Washington Commanders, excluding an end-of-half kneeldown. He gained just 16 yards on those plays but had another 21-yard scramble wiped out by a holding penalty.

Belichick said Ehlinger’s small sample size makes it tough to know how the Colts will utilize him when they visit Gillette Stadium this Sunday.

“I don’t know if that was for Washington (or) if that’s something they’re going to do (this week),” he said. “You’ll have to ask them.”

The Patriots allowed 107 rushing yards to Jackson in Week 3 and 82 to Fields in Week 7 — and lost both of those games in lopsided fashion.

The Colts’ offense has been one of the NFL’s worst this season, but Ehlinger showed some potential in his first NFL start. As a passer, the second-year Texas product went 17-for-23 for 201 yards with no touchdowns, no interceptions and one lost fumble.

Indianapolis on Tuesday fired offensive coordinator Marcus Brady, but since head coach Frank Reich handles play-calling duties, Belichick doesn’t expect a major overhaul for that unit.

“Coach Reich, he calls the plays, and it looks very much like coach Reich’s offense, going all the way back to when he was at Philly,” Belichick said. “So whatever changes they made, I’m sure he had his reasons for making them, but he’s a really good coach, and I’m sure he’ll be ready to go with whatever adjustment they’ve made.”

It remains to be seen whether Indy will have All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor at their disposal this week. Taylor is dealing with an ankle injury that kept him out of practice Wednesday. The Colts also traded third-down back Nyheim Hines to the Buffalo Bills ahead of Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline.

Thumbnail photo via Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports Images
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