The team was determined to look within to find the quarterback who could fill Wentz’s job until he got back.
That left two options: 2020 draft pick Jacob Eason and 2021 draft pick Sam Ehlinger.
Seniority was not much of an issue so the job was considered up for grabs between the two.
Frank Reich was determined to give both an opportunity.
“It wasn’t Jacob doing anything wrong. This is a meritocracy and Sam has looked good so we decided to split it up. The good news is they both looked sharp today. We’ll continue to split those reps.”
Ehlinger came out throwing and playing extremely well in the Colts’ first preseason game against the Carolina Panthers.
#Colts QB Sam Ehlinger in his first NFL preseason action:
— 10/15 passing
— 155 yards
— 1 INT
— 2-pt conversion
— 5 rushes for 35 yards (7.0 YPC) (before kneels)
Colts trailed 18-10 with 9:49 left in 4Q. Ehlinger & Colts scored 11 unanswered points to win 21-18. pic.twitter.com/wmb3aimHP6
— CJ Vogel (@CJVogel_TFB) August 15, 2021
Ehlinger approaches the game with the perspective of a savvy veteran instead of a 2021 sixth-round draft pick.
Thought this was impressive stuff from Sam Ehlinger after he was asked by @MikeWellsNFL about the pressure he's facing this early in his career.
This is what perspective sounds like 👇🏼 pic.twitter.com/YUrmCmpqsJ
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) August 19, 2021
Not to be outdone by Ehlinger, Eason has played well also.
— Lawrence Owen (@Colts_Law) August 22, 2021
Coach Reich shared encouraging words about Eason’s progress on August 18.
“He came out here feeling good, feeling a little bit more confident and you could feel that on the field Tuesday, and you could feel it today. That’s the kind of thing you have to build on and every quarterback goes through it. But then you’re going to go through that and then you’re going to hit another (bad) spell. Then you have to be able to bounce back from that spell. It’s all a part of the maturation process with a QB, but Jacob’s showing all the right signs.”
Eason has not thrown an interception in a preseason game and has put the ball in the air a lot more often than Ehlinger.
Numbers through two preseason games:
Jacob Eason: 31-48, 315 yards, 0 INT, 0 TD
Sam Ehlinger: 18-28, 225 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) August 22, 2021
No one forgets that Eason worked alongside legendary quarterback Philip Rivers last season, and Rivers gushed about Eason’s arm strength.
#Colts starting QB: Philip Rivers, on Jacob Eason:
"He made a throw the other day, I shook my head and said, 'I can't do that. I can't make that throw'." pic.twitter.com/gl0HWVZeHT
— Lawrence Owen (@Colts_Law) September 2, 2020
While all indications are that Eason is earning the job as the Week 1 starter, we should pause a minute because the other quarterback on the roster could be ready to go.
Could Wentz Be Back
We heard that Wentz will be back at practice this week.
He is only three weeks removed from foot surgery.
Carson Wentz will return to practice tomorrow 👀
Colts working back to full strength 💪 pic.twitter.com/eEmBGjHy2i
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) August 22, 2021
Carson Wentz has been cleared to return to practice this week. Even though the #Colts will ease him back in I feel they are rushing his recovery. Wentz is just three weeks removed from foot surgery, and it's too quick to be going through drills.
— Inside Injuries (@InsideInjuries) August 22, 2021
No one knows who will be the starting quarterback for the Colts’ Week 1 game at home against the Seattle Seahawks on September 12.
Not even Reich knows at this point.
Frank Reich says we're going to see Carson Wentz out there on the practice field this week, doing some things.
Carson Wentz will be practicing. He'll be limited, but he'll be practicing.
— Joel A. Erickson (@JoelAErickson) August 22, 2021
Presumably Wentz will get the start if his recovery and return to the field go smoothly.
If not, at the moment, Eason would likely be the starter.
However, Ehlinger still has time to make his case also.
No disrespect to Wentz, but even if he fully recovers for Week 1, his injury history is still a concern and requires talented backup(s).