It's Time to Give Betts His Shot

(Getty Images)

While the Colts haven't had to put the ball into backup Jim Sorgi's hands in any meaningful situation, you can't help but wonder -- after watching first-year player Josh Betts -- whether Indianapolis is going to give him his fair shot at the No. 2 spot this year.

Let me start out by stating that I'm not a Jim Sorgi hater. I've never met the man, yet I'm sure he's a good person and deserving of respect as a professional quarterback.

When you've made it to the NFL as a quarterback on a 53-man roster, you're one of less than 100 people in the entire country that has been picked as qualified enough in your profession to be signed to a contract to perform those duties. So from that perspective alone, Jim Sorgi has earned my respect.

That said, I'd be less than honest if I didn't say that I was surprised and a bit dismayed when the Colts re-signed him as a restricted free agent. And after watching yet another vanilla, drab and inconsistent performance from him against the Cowboys last Thursday night, it simply reinforced that notion.

When your receivers start to look exasperated over the location of passes, when you fumble the ball during one of two sacks and then throw an interception that's returned for a touchdown, it's not exactly a stellar performance. Let's take a quick look at Sorgi's night:

First possession (9 plays, turnover on downs): Six passes thrown including three completions to tight end Bryan Fletcher for 17, 7, and 5 yards, a 4-yarder to running back DeDe Dorsey and a pair of misses to rookie wide receiver Roy Hall.

Second possession (4 plays, punt): One completion for just 5 yards and one incomplete pass, both to Roy Hall.

Third possession (1 play, end of half): Kneel down to kill the half.

Jim Sorgi (Getty Images)
Fourth possession (4 plays, turnover): Sorgi connected with Anthony Gonzalez for a 14-yard gain out of the shotgun. Then he was sacked and fumbled (but recovered it) right before throwing a risky pass intended for tight end Ben Utecht. Sorgi failed to get the pass high enough over a pass rusher who was directly in his throwing lane, and the tipped pass was picked off for a touchdown.

Fifth possession (4 plays, punt): Sorgi was sacked on first down for a 6-yard loss and then threw another incompletion to Hall.

Sixth possession (4 plays, punt): Two incompletions on short routes, one to Anthony Gonzalez, and then yet another to Hall.

So knock out the one possession that was just to kill the half, and you've got five possessions to evaluate -- and three of them were three-downs-and -out.

While he finished the game with six completions for 52 yards, Sorgi got four of those during the first possession. He completed just two passes of more than 7 yards and nothing longer than 17 yards. He was sacked twice, fumbled once, and handed his opponent a touchdown due to a bad throwing decision.

And the Colts didn't score a single point under Jim Sorgi's leadership at quarterback in five attempts.

Sure, it's just a preseason game. The teams don't even watch film of each other this early in the preseason. So maybe the performance tells us that Sorgi benefits greatly from watching film before entering a game. Or maybe he just had a really off night. Everyone's human.

But the problem is that we've yet to see him dazzle the defense anytime he's entered a game. He's yet to put anyone on their heels or even make them scratch their heads. His conservative style of play doesn't put many points on the scoreboard either.

It's a really odd contrast when you think about it. Compare Manning's demeanor and leadership on the field versus Sorgi's. It'll leave you wondering why the Colts haven't recruited someone who exudes more confidence when he's on the field, someone more like Manning at least in the way he looks at the game when he's out there staring across the line at the defense.

Maybe they've simply struggled to find the quarterback who's got that edge -- in addition to the intelligence required for this offense -- who'll also be content to hold the clipboard each week. If they think so, they need look no further than one step down on their current depth chart.

If Peyton Manning does end up on the sidelines at some point, I'd much prefer that the Colts at least give the fans someone entertaining to watch at the quarterback position. And that's certainly what Josh Betts did last Thursday night.

For anyone who turned off the game early to go read a book or get an extra hour of sleep, you missed seeing the former Miami University (Ohio) signal-caller out on the field.

Josh Betts at Miami (OH)
(Getty Images)
Betts only got two possessions to work with in the fourth quarter, and he was playing against the Cowboys' lower tier of professional talent, but the Colts had the ball for nine plays on the first possession and ten plays on the second one.

And boy, was he fun to watch.

When pressure came, he didn't fold and take a sack. He actually brought back memories of Jim Harbaugh, spinning, ducking, dodging and then rolling out looking for a target. Sometimes he saw someone open, but when he didn't he tucked the ball and ran.

Sure, he threw an interception as well. But it was while he was on the run trying to aggressively make a play and it was picked off in the end zone. It was a bad choice, throwing off of his back foot, but at least he was trying to make something happen rather than just trying to get rid of the ball in the face of danger.

But perhaps more importantly, the Colts scored their only touchdown of the night during his second possession.

It was during that one quarter of play I saw something in Josh Betts that I haven't seen so fiercely displayed ever by Jim Sorgi. Betts was just plain determined to score -- somehow, some way, just like Harbaugh was.

Now don't get me wrong, Betts isn't anywhere near in his development to matching Harbaugh's talent or accomplishments, but the spark was there. And as I watch Jim Sorgi entering his fourth season with the Colts, I'm still waiting to see a flicker, let alone a real spark.

Here's how Betts' two possessions looked:

First possession (9 plays, turnover): Betts completed 3 of 6 attempts, including a pair of passes to Cro Thorpe and one to Trent Shelton for 7 and 9 yards respectively. He missed Shelton and Brian Hare on two other throws before throwing the interception in the end zone while trying to get a 23-yarder to John Standeford. And he scrambled for a 2-yard gain. Not a great possession, but he did move the chains twice and had a chance at a score.

Second possession (ten plays, touchdown): Betts completed passes of 11, 15, 30, 9, and 8 yards before hitting a 3-yard quick pass to Shelton for a touchdown. Thorpe, Standeford, Hare and running back Clifton Dawson all grabbed passes during the drive, showing the Betts was making his reads, not focusing on one player as Sorgi appeared to do so often with Roy Hall as his intended target. And Betts contributed 20 yards of rushing on one scramble for a first down. He failed to complete just two passes on the drive, one to Hare and one to Thorpe.

Josh Betts finished his night completing nine out of fourteen attempts for 77 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT and no sacks. He also ran for 22 yards, more than any Colts running back on the night even though he only played one quarter of football.

If the Colts don't give him an opportunity to show what he can do earlier in the game against first- and second-string talent during this preseason, it will be a shame. His year on the practice squad clearly served him well. He seems to understand what's going on around him out there and has the heart and desire to be a playmaker.

I don't know about you, but if the Colts ever need to send in a quarterback in a meaningful game for Peyton Manning, I hope he's more like Josh Betts than Jim Sorgi. At least it would be fun to watch, win or lose.

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