INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts are riding their ability to stay in the AFC South hunt on a quarterback that they don’t know much about.
Scott Tolzien is in line to start against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving night because it’ll be surprising if starting quarterback Andrew Luck completes the NFL’s concussion protocol in time for the game.
Who is Scott Tolzien?
Not even coach Chuck Pagano could give a definitive answer on what Tolzien gives them from an offensive standpoint.
“I’ve got the same exposure that you guys have,” Pagano said. “He’s got some limited amount of exposure, but he’s a pro. Again, if he has to roll and be the guy, he’ll do a great job. He prepares really well every single day.”
That doesn’t say a lot about your quarterback, Chuck.
Tolzien’s NFL resume consists of a total of six career appearances. He’s 56-of-91 for 721 yards with a touchdown and five interceptions in his career. Tolzien’s last meaningful playing time was three years ago, when he was with the Packers, going 7-of-17 for 98 yards against the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 24, 2013.
Not that there’s ever a good time to be without your franchise player, but this really isn’t a good time for the Colts to be without Luck. He’s not only the pulse of the offense, he’s the pulse of the entire franchise.
Indianapolis is on a two-game winning streak as it tries to claw its way back into the AFC South race. The Houston Texans went into their Monday night game against the Oakland Raiders with a 1 1/2-game lead over the Colts in the division.
The Colts finally started showing signs of life offensively of late. They've had at least 327 yards of total offense in five of their past six games. Now, offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski will likely have to shrink what had become an expanded playbook of late with Tolzien, who replaced veteran Matt Hasselbeck as Luck's backup in the offseason.
The Colts have to hope that Luck, who missed nine games last season due to injuries, will be able to get through the concussion protocol before their Dec. 5 game at the New York Jets because an extended absence will severely damage their chance of catching the Texans.
“You don’t ever want to be without anybody, but we have been down this road before and handled it well,” Pagano said. “Faced a bunch of adversity and obstacles just like everybody else. This team that we are playing was without theirs [quarterback Ben Roethlisberger] for a game or two, I believe. It’s a part of the National Football League. Our guys will respond and it’s a matter of everybody stepping up their game.”