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5 Qs, 5 As with Stampede Blue: Are Colts as happy with Wentz as Rams are with Stafford?

Updates on Eric Fisher, Carson Wentz, and underrated players to look out for in Indy

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Jenna Watson/IndyStar via Imagn Content Services, LLC

5 Qs, 5 As is an exchange of questions between Turf Show Times and a writer from the SB Nation site that represents the Rams’ opponent that week. In this case, scroll down past the history lesson if you want to get directly to my ‘5 Questions about the Colts’ for Chris Blystone at Stampede Blue. But if you’re curious about the part that the Colts played in LA’s highest-scoring effort of all-time, read the following.

If you dive into the history of the Los Angeles Rams and the Indianapolis Colts, you’ll first find a ledger that goes back to 1953 and lays out 44 contests between the two franchises, no matter their locations at the time. The new Colts absorbed much of the 1952 Dallas Texans team that went 1-11, including offensive player George Taliaferro, the first Black player drafted into the NFL when the Chicago Bears selected him in 1949.

The Rams won that game 21-13, then beat the Colts again only two weeks later by a score of 45-2; it was 45-0 in the fourth quarter but somebody must have been betting on wiping45-2 off of the Scorigami board.

Baltimore would add quarterback Johnny Unitas three years later, then won back-to-back championships in Unitas’s third and fourth campaigns. The Colts won a Super Bowl in 1970, the last for Unitas as a full-time starter, but then moved to Indianapolis in 1984 and the Rams have hardly heard or seen from them since.

The Colts and Rams have only played against each other six times since 1995, with each team winning three of those contests.

However, these are not the most interesting Baltimore Colts that the LA Rams have ever played against.

It was actually three years before the initial 1953 game between these two franchises that the Rams faced another Baltimore Colts team. A different, short-lived franchise out of the AAFC that started as the Miami Seahawks in 1946 and then moved to Baltimore in 1947 and then as the Colts into the NFL in 1950, alongside the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers.

But the Baltimore Colts were a 1-11 team in the AAFC in 1949 ... what were they expected to be in the NFL in 1950?

The Colts lost their first game in the NFL by a score of 38-14, followed by 31-0, 55-13, and 24-14. It was at that point that Baltimore had to travel to Los Angeles to face a Rams team coming off of a championship game loss to the Eagles in 1949. Slain themselves by Philadelphia that year by a score of 56-20, the Rams must have taken it out on the Colts when they hosted the expansion team on October 22, 1950.

Because it was on that day, that the LA Rams put up a 70-burger.

(Is it still a burger at 70? Or is that more of a trip to the Heart Attack Grill?)

That 1950 contest against a team that had no business in the NFL remains the Rams highest-scoring effort of all-time, as two Hall of Fame quarterbacks — Norm Van Brocklin and Bob Waterfield — combined for five total touchdowns and the Rams won 70-27. LA also got a kickoff return touchdown and rookie halfback Glenn Davis threw a 58-yard touchdown to Elroy Hirsch to open the scoring action that day.

Surprisingly, the Colts were not completely outmatched at every position, as they also had Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle. Though this was long before Tittle’s success.

For a team that has participated in the third-highest scoring (Rams vs Chiefs, 2018) and 12th-highest scoring (Rams vs Bucs, 2019) games of all-time, it was the 1950 LA Rams and the one-season campaign of the Baltimore Colts that was the catalyst towards scoring 70 points in a single game. (By my count, 70-27 should be the ninth-highest scoring.)

The Colts repeated their record from a year before, 1-11, and were disbanded in 1951.

The Rams felt like they had unfinished business from slaughtering the Colts, so the next week they beat the Detroit Lions 65-24. That’s 135 points in a two-game span, which is only 40 points shy of the entire combined total of the 2009 Rams season.

LA believes they are back to being a high-scoring offense now that they have Matthew Stafford under center as their next hopeful “Van Brocklin” type quarterback (making Bryce Perkins the “Waterfield” I think) and the Colts would like to think they’re back to their winning ways after acquiring Carson Wentz in the offseason.

It’s been a long time since the Colts were that team they were in Baltimore, and even longer since they were the Baltimore Colts who’ve been forgotten. So to get to know them better as we prepare for Week 2, I sent five Qs to Chris Blystone at Stampede Blue, and in kind he sent me five corresponding As.

For a comprehensive primer on everything you need to know about the Indianapolis Colts, read “everything you need to know about the Colts” before you get started.

Q - Nobody knew what kind of firestorm would be set off after the Rams traded for Matthew Stafford, but when the dust settled, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Deshaun Watson remained with their original teams for at least another year. The only other significant trade for a quarterback turned out to be a conditional first round pick for Carson Wentz. At this point, do you feel like Wentz was a “consolation prize” to Stafford that had better or equal net value (conditional first rounder as opposed to two first rounders and a QB for Stafford) or do you think that the Colts didn’t go big enough and if they were going to trade a first round pick, make it be for a player who was firmly established and not being traded as part of a forced divorce?

I know which player I would have preferred personally, and it would have been Stafford, no contest. However, given the price, Stafford’s age, and the history Frank Reich has with Wentz, I was not at all surprised that they made the move they did. Both Frank Reich and GM Chris Ballard have talked about watching Wentz on film and how much they still saw in terms of his capabilities.

Stafford has one of the most impressive arms I’ve ever seen live, but even at his best he doesn’t offer the versatility that a player like Carson Wentz does if you can get him to hit his ceiling. That is, of course, the major question to be answered in the 2021 season. Can Frank Reich deliver a version of Carson Wentz that is closer to 2017 than 2020?

If the Colts manage to return Wentz to that version of himself, they’ll be celebrated for their foresight. For a bargain price they will have added a franchise quarterback with high upside and lots of years of football ahead of him. If they can’t? The Stafford trade will be held over their heads for as long as it takes to find the answer at QB.

Q - How forgiving have Colts fans been of Wentz getting injured again in training camp? Did that feel like “You get what you pay for?” or is the Indy fanbase just stoked to have a 29-year-old former number two pick as a building block next to Jonathan Taylor? And how would you grade Wentz’s first game against the Seahawks? Would the stat line (66%, 251 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 1 fumble, 6.6 Y/A) tell an accurate picture of his performance?

Colts fans have certainly been frustrated by the injury situation. Wentz needed lots of reps with the team, especially as a guy coming off a dreadful 2020 season. Missing most of camp means he basically comes into the toughest part of the Colts schedule without any significant practice or rapport with the offense. Because he knows Reich well and has worked in a similar offense, the transition into the offense itself hasn’t been awful. However, there is nothing that can replace repetition to prepare players for game action.

As far as his week one performance, Wentz was one of the few bright spots on an otherwise very lackluster showing from the Colts. The offensive line was uncharacteristically bad, getting absolutely dominated by Seattle’s defense. That left Wentz scrambling for his life and dealing with no time to throw.

All in all, Wentz had a solid, if not incredible showing in his first game. He took what was there for him, didn’t make bad decisions, and moved the ball to the extent he was capable. With a more typical performance from the Colts’ offensive line, he would have likely looked better still.

Q - What’s the situation at left tackle looking like for Week 2? The Colts have arguably the best LG-C-RG-RT combination in the NFL and they signed Eric Fisher in the offseason, but how’s the health and performance at LT looking right now?

Signs are pointing to Eric Fisher starting Sunday. The Colts are extremely cagey about injuries, so we likely won’t know for sure until they release the final report, but he has progressed well in his return, and the expectation is that he will be set to return soon. When you couple that with how poorly the current starting left tackle Julie’n Davenport played Sunday, there is a lot of motivation for Fisher to return as soon as possible.

Rams fans looking to get a feel for this Colts offense should watch week one with a grain of salt. It was easily their worst performance as a line since early 2018 at least, and possibly stretching back further. Given their proven talent, it is not likely that they will all play so poorly again. Additionally, I would expect the Colts to use the tight end position more heavily to aid Davenport if he has to start at the LT position, something they did little of against the Seahawks.

Q - Can you give me one sentence each on the likelihood of the following players to have a positive impact in Week 2: WR Mike Strachan, RB Marlon Mack, DE Kwity Paye, CB Kenny Moore II.

7th round rookie WR Mike Strachan netted 3 3rd down conversions (2 receptions, 1 PI call) and while he probably won’t play a lot of snaps, the Colts like what he brings.

The Colts said today that they intend to involve Marlon Mack in the offense, but with the ability of Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines, I wouldn’t count on him being a major factor in the game.

1st round rookie DE Kwity Paye didn’t do a lot Sunday, but perhaps the thing the Colts have raved about most about him is his ability to adapt and grow, which the Colts need him to do in a big way in week 2.

Kenny Moore II is one of the most underrated cornerbacks in the league, and coming off one of his worst games as a pro, I would not want to be facing him the following week.

Q - The offense lost coordinator Nick Sirianni to the Eagles in the offseason and replaced him with internal candidate Marcus Brady. Who is calling plays on Sunday and does Brady’s long history as a CFL coach come out as part of the gameplan in any way?

Frank Reich is the guy calling the plays on Sundays, but his offensive staff are all heavily involved in putting together the game plan, and Brady and quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich are both integral to the offensive planning and take a very collaborative approach. Given Wentz’s mobility and the size and speed of the Colts offensive playmakers, it stands to reason that we will see more boot action pass plays and RPO concepts that would have been more prevalent in a CFL team taking shape on the Colts offense. It is difficult to pinpoint what are influences from Marcus Brady and what are just the natural shifts in scheme based on switching from a statue of a passer in Philip Rivers over to a mobile guy like Carson Wentz.

What questions would you have about the Indianapolis Colts this week?