First things first, a disclaimer: Mid-May is too early to know which starting quarterbacks the Colts will face in their 17 regular season games.
Some teams – like the Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers – are gearing up for quarterback competitions in the coming months. Other teams may need to replace a starting quarterback during the season for performance or injury-related reasons.
And we don't even know who will be starting for the Colts – be it Gardner Minshew, Sam Ehlinger or Anthony Richardson – in these games, too.
But with the Colts' 2023 regular season schedule unveiled Thursday night, it's always an instructive process to look at the quarterbacks currently on each of their opponents' rosters and map out who the Colts may face, now that we know when those games are.
Week 1: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.
Quarterbacks on roster: C.J. Beathard, Trevor Lawrence, Nathan Rourke
It's full steam ahead for the Jaguars with Lawrence, who made a significant leap from his rookie year of 2021 to his second year in 2022:
- 2021: 17 starts, 3-14 record, 59.6 completion percentage, 3,461 yards, 12 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 6.0 yards/attempt, 71.9 passer rating
- 2022: 17 starts, 9-8 record, 66.3 completion percentage, 4,113 yards, 25 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 7.0 yards/attempt, 95.2 passer rating
Week 2: @ Houston Texans, 1 p.m.
Quarterbacks on roster: Case Keenum, Davis Mills, C.J. Stroud
It's too early to know when the Texans will hand the keys over to Stroud, the No. 2 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Keenum (64 starts) and Mills (26 starts) are both options to begin the season as starters. But since the NFL adopted its rookie wage scale in 2011, no quarterback picked first or second overall has spent the entire season on the bench; only one of them (Jared Goff, seven starts in 2016) started fewer than half his team's games as a rookie.
Week 3: @ Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m.
Quarterbacks on roster: Anthony Brown, Nolan Henderson, Tyler Huntley, Lamar Jackson
Jackson opted to remain in Baltimore after a drama-filled few months, and will return to the Ravens as one of the AFC's top quarterbacks. Following his MVP season of 2018, Jackson has has a 92.5 passer rating while averaging 6.3 yards per carry.
Week 4: vs. Los Angeles Rams, 1 p.m.
Quarterbacks on roster: Stetson Bennett, Brett Rypien, Matthew Stafford, Dresser Winn
Stafford is confident and motivated as he enters his 15th season in the NFL – one that follows an injury-shortened 2022 campaign in which he started just nine games for the Rams. In 2021, Stafford threw for 4,886 yards and 41 touchdowns in the 2021 regular season before going on an all-time postseason heater (70 percent completion percentage, 8.5 yards/attempt, 9 touchdowns/3 interceptions, 108.3 passer rating) to lead the Rams to a Lombardi Trophy.
Week 5: vs. Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.
Quarterbacks on roster: Will Levis, Ryan Tannehill, Malik Willis
Head coach Mike Vrabel made it clear that the Titans' initial depth chart will be Tannehill, Willis and Levis in that order. But, he added: "Whatever happens after that will be up to the players."
Tannehill remains an effective, efficient passer as he enters his age-35 season – he completed 65 percent of his passes, averaged 7.8 yards per attempt and had the third-highest passer rating (94.6) of his career in 2022, though he missed the final five games of the season with an ankle injury. The Titans are 36-19 when Tannehill starts over the last four seasons.
The competition between Willis, a 2022 third-round pick, and Levis, whose slide out of the first round was stopped by the Titans early in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft, should be fascinating to watch over the next few months.
Week 6: @ Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.
Week 7: vs. Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m.
Quarterbacks on roster: Joshua Dobbs, Kellen Mond, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Deshaun Watson
Watson struggled in 2022 after returning from an 11-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, posting over six starts career lows in completion percentage (58.2 percent), yards per attempt (6.5), yards per game (183.7) and passer rating (79.1).
Week 8: vs. New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m.
Quarterbacks on roster: Derek Carr, Jake Haener, Jameis Winston
Carr joined the Saints this spring after spending the first nine seasons of his career with the Raiders, where he earned four Pro Bowl selections and threw for 217 touchdowns in 142 games.
Week 9: @ Carolina Panthers, 4:05 p.m.
Quarterbacks on roster: Matt Corral, Andy Dalton, Bryce Young
The 35-year-old Dalton has the most starting experience (162 starts) of any quarterback the Colts may face this season. But of the last eight quarterbacks to be selected No. 1 overall, five of them (Trevor Lawrence, Andrew Luck, Kyler Murray, Cam Newton, Jameis Winston) started every one of their team's regular season games. So we'll see when – and how soon – Young gets on the field for Frank Reich's Panthers.
Week 10: @ New England Patriots, 9:30 a.m. (Deutsche Bank Stadium, Frankfurt, Germany)
Quarterbacks on roster: Malik Cunningham, Mac Jones, Trace McSorley, Bailey Zappe
Offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien – the former Houston Texans head coach – will be tasked with scheming a rebound season out of Mac Jones, whose passer rating dropped from 92.5 as a rookie to 84.8 in 2022. Jones will face the Colts for the third time in his career; in his two prior starts, he's completed 61 percent of his passes for 446 yards with three touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 80.2.
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m.
Quarterbacks on roster: Baker Mayfield, Kyle Trask, John Wolford
The Buccaneers brought in Mayfield in free agency to compete with Trask, a former Florida teammate of Anthony Richardson's who Tampa Bay selected in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. This looks like a battle that'll be competitive throughout training camp, though Mayfield has 69 games of starting experience with 102 career touchdowns spent in stints with the Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Rams.
Week 13: @ Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.
Week 14: @ Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.
Quarterbacks on roster: Jake Browning, Joe Burrow, Trevor Siemian
Since the last time Burrow faced the Colts — week 6 of the 2020 season — he's established himself as an elite quarterback, leading the Bengals to the Super Bowl and AFC Championship in consecutive seasons while completing 69 percent of his passes for 9,086 yards with 69 touchdowns and a 104.2 passer rating in 2021-2022.
Week 15: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, TBD
Quarterbacks on roster: Tanner Morgan, Kenny Pickett, Mitch Trubisky
Pickett played better than his rookie stat line (6.2 yards/attempt, 7 touchdowns/9 interceptions, 76.7 passer rating) may suggest, and the Steelers went 7-5 in his 12 starts last year – including a Week 12 Monday night win over the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Week 16: @ Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m.
Quarterbacks on roster: Taylor Heinicke, Desmond Ridder, Logan Woodside
Heinicke, who quarterbacked the Washington Commanders past the Colts in Week 8 last year, looks in line to back up Ridder, a third-round pick who started four games for the Falcons in 2022.
Week 17: vs. Las Vegas Raiders, 1 p.m.
Quarterbacks on roster: Chase Garbers, Jimmy Garoppolo, Brian Hoyer, Aidan O'Connell
Garoppolo signed with the Raiders in March after six seasons (55 starts) with the San Francisco 49ers, in which he completed 67.6 percent of his passes, averaged 8.3 yards per attempt and compiled a 99.2 passer rating. The 49ers reached a Super Bowl and an NFC Championship game with Garoppolo as their quarterback, and went 38-17 over his 55 starts. He'll be re-united in Las Vegas with Josh McDaniels, his offensive coordinator over the first three years of his career with the New England Patriots.
Week 18: vs. Houston Texans, TBD