Can A Touch of Gray Help Colts?

The Colts recently brought in Quinn Gray, formerly of the Jaguars, to compete for the backup quarterback spot with Jim Sorgi and Jared Lorenzen. What does Gray bring to the team, and what are potential question marks? Brad Keller asks Charlie Bernstein of for his thoughts and provides a rebuttal inside!

Bernstein says:

Quinn Gray signed with the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent rookie out of Florida A&M in 2002, and was a "jar on the shelf" for the team up until this offseason.

The Jaguars allocated Gray to NFL Europe, and he developed his game and led his team (Frankfurt) to a World Bowl title in 2003. Gray earned the Jaguars third quarterback job the following season, and didn't see regular season action until 2005 when he mopped up in the second half of the season finale.

Gray's first meaningful minutes in the league came last season, ironically against the Colts, when he was the Jaguars backup quarterback and David Garrard injured his ankle.

Gray was put in a tough spot, down three scores with the ears of the Colts defensive line pinned back. He played miserably, as he completed just 9 of 24 passes for 56 yards, with two interceptions. Gray started the following three games for the Jaguars and was average at best.

Gray has physical talent, but isn't fully developed as an NFL quarterback
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Quinn Gray has an above average arm, and above average athleticism for a guy that will likely be caught first in a Dunkin' Donuts before he will a Gold's Gym.

Gray's biggest issue is his tendency to throw into coverage and his perceived lack of work ethic. He's a physically talented quarterback, but will likely be a third-stringer for his entire career.

Jacksonville decided to go in a different direction when Gray became an unrestricted free agent mainly because he was convinced he could become a starter in the league, and they had seen enough from Gray in his four appearances a year ago to move on with Cleo Lemon, who has looked horrible thus far.

To be perfectly honest, I don't think Gray will catch on to the somewhat complicated Colts offense very quickly and it is very doubtful that he can make the Indianapolis roster, much less beat out Jim Sorgi who is familiar with the system for the backup job. Gray may be more talented than Sorgi or Lorenzen, but most general managers would rather have either on their team.

Keller says: The real battle in camp will be waged between Sorgi and Gray.

For his career, Gray has more attempts, yards, and touchdowns than Jim Sorgi — although Sorgi has the higher career passer rating: 90.4 to 88.5 — and is only six months older.

Sorgi is obviously more familiar with the offense than Gray, but Sorgi is more familiar with the offense than anyone but Tom Moore and Peyton Manning.  What Sorgi does not have is experience starting an NFL game and the preparation, from a practice and game day standpoint, that Gray gained last year.

Although the Colts do run a very complex attack, no one who fills in for Manning will be asked to do everything that he does in the offense, either from a pre-snap or post-snap standpoint.

The Colts will simplify the offense if Peyton Manning isn't taking the snaps
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

The caretaker for Manning's post will be asked to do much less, will have their progressions limited, the pre-snap reads virtually eliminated, and will be asked primarily to limit mistakes.  While Sorgi has only one career interception, he has not been put in a high pressure situation in his career and, in all fairness to Gray, two of his five career interceptions came against the Colts when he was forced to take over for an injured David Garrard.

Once given full run of the offense, he threw only three interceptions the rest of the season and finished with a two to one interception-to-touchdown ratio, which is very respectable for someone in his position.

In all likelihood, the Colts saw Manning go under the knife and realized that there was no one behind him on the depth chart that had any starting experience, which inspired them to quickly sign Gray and Lorenzen for insurance.

It is very possible, though, that Manning's prognosis is more dire than originally anticipated and that he may not be ready for the start of the regular season.  It's also possible that the Colts will break camp with three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.

With Manning, Sorgi, Gray, and Lorenzen all in the mix, Indianapolis may come to the conclusion that they have too many good options to choose from and keep three of these men on staff.

The good news is for the Colts: Either Sorgi rises to the occasion and improves himself by fending off his biggest threat since Shaun King, or they get a backup quarterback that has starting experience with a winning team that was able to unseat someone with a four-year head start on the offense.

If Manning is not ready to go at the outset, the Colts will have a far more respectable band-aid than they had as recently as Tuesday, with three NFL-caliber quarterbacks fighting for position.  As any coach will tell you, competition tends to bring out the best in players. We'll have to see if Gray's best is yet to come.

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