Colts owner Jim Irsay has vulgar response to tanking accusations
The Indianapolis Colts have made some major changes in recent weeks that are unlikely to lead to more wins, but owner Jim Irsay resents the narrative that the team is intentionally paving the way for failure.
Many were surprised when the Colts benched veteran Matt Ryan in favor of inexperienced second-year quarterback Sam Ehlinger two weeks ago. Ryan is supposedly injured, but then-head coach Frank Reich said the plan was for Ehlinger to start for the remainder of the year. Reich was then fired on Monday and, in an even more puzzling move, former Colts offensive lineman Jeff Saturday was named interim head coach.
None of those moves were made with losing in mind, according to Irsay. He told Bob Kravitz of The Athletic on Tuesday that any talk of the Colts tanking is “bulls—.”
“That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard, that we’re tanking,” Irsay said. “That’s bulls—. We’re in this thing; 9-7-1 get us in, no question about it. … We’re not tanking the season. Whoever says these things, that we’re not playing Matt because (of an effort to tank), that’s all bulls—. That’s not true. … We’re going to do what it takes to win. I don’t know who people think we are, they don’t know us. We don’t tank in Indianapolis.”
Irsay also said there is no guarantee Ehlinger will remain the starter for the remainder of the season. He insists the team just feels the former Texas star gives the Colts the best chance of winning right now.
“It’s not something we’re locked into. We’re going with Sam with his mobility and his playmaking ability since we’re struggling in (pass) protection and moving the ball, that’s what we all decided to do. “There was never a notion that you wouldn’t go to Nick (Foles) or Matt later in the season when (Ryan’s) shoulder is healthy. They’re all available to help us win, bottom line. … It’s always been about whoever can help us win going forward.”
There is nothing more important in the NFL than having a franchise quarterback. Irsay, who went from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck, understands that as well as anyone. It would not be difficult to imagine the Colts tanking after their decisions to trade for Carson Wentz and then Ryan did not yield favorable results.
If Irsay and the Colts were trying to tank, they would never admit it. But when someone says a quarterback and head coach with zero experience give his team its best chance to win, it is certainly fair to question that.