Indianapolis Colts quarterback Sam Ehlinger will have one of the toughest challenges of his young career Sunday when he travels to face the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
Ehlinger nearly came away with his first career win during his first career start in Week 8, but the Colts wound up losing 17-16 on the final drive of the game.
Now, he has an incredibly arduous challenge going against Bill Belichick’s defense.
“Yeah. Obviously, you want to get your first win and I’m really looking forward to playing against Coach (Bill) Belichick and the Patriots. There’s nobody that’s done it better and they always present a challenge defensively,” Ehlinger said this week. “I know it’s going to be a challenge and it’s going to be a hostile environment. I’m looking forward to it.”
History hasn’t been kind to young and inexperienced quarterbacks going against Belichick’s defense. Considering the way the Colts offense has been playing this season, the task becomes even more difficult.
But Ehlinger is doing what he can to rise to the challenge. That includes leaning on the veterans who have thrived in that system in the past.
First thing this morning, Colts QB Sam Ehlinger sat down with former Patriot Stephon Gilmore. Why? To discuss the details of the New England defense and Bill Belichick's tactics. Ehlinger is preparing for his 2nd start, but young QBs have historically struggled against the Pats.
— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) November 2, 2022
The Colts didn’t make things any easier for Ehlinger this week either. They provided plenty of distractions and changes to personnel around him.
First, they fired offensive coordinator Marcus Brady from his position. Though Brady wasn’t calling plays, he was heavily involved in game-planning, play design and quarterback meetings.
Then, they traded away an explosive but underutilized piece of the offense, sending running back Nyheim Hines to the Buffalo Bills just before the trade deadline.
Those changes will certainly have an impact on Ehlinger, but he insists his focus remains the same.
“Everything will stay the same as much as possible. My preparation won’t change. Love Marcus (Brady), wish him the best. He’s an excellent coach, excellent person,” Ehlinger said. “We had a great relationship, so it’s obviously hard. But for me personally, my routine and preparation will stay the same.”
The Colts haven’t won in Foxborough since 2006 when the defense intercepted Tom Brady four times and Peyton Manning threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns. Cato June had two interceptions while Marvin Harrison went off for eight receptions 145 yards and two touchdowns.
Ehlinger was eight years old the last time the Colts won on the road in Foxborough.
He’ll get his first taste of the rivalry Sunday afternoon in what should be a pretty hostile environment.