The revolving quarterback carousel in Indianapolis can’t go unnoticed as the Colts are set to enter 2022 with their fifth starting QB in as many seasons.
The Colts are the only team in NFL history to have a different QB start 15-plus games in four consecutive seasons, per NFL Research. Indy is on track to extend that remarkable stat after acquiring longtime Falcons QB Matt Ryan, who hasn’t missed a game in 12 seasons.
Frank Reich, who’s been the Colts head coach for every one of those four seasons, believes Ryan is the QB to not only end that trend but also help take Indianapolis to the promised land.
“I think everyone saw from the outside that this is a good fit,” Reich told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero during an interview at the Annual League Meeting on Sunday. “Like, people can universally agree you got a guy who’s still playing at a high level with a team and roster that is built to make some noise. We needed each other.”
Ryan wasn’t initially on the Colts radar after trading Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders on March 9, according to Reich. Once the rumors of Deshaun Watson landing in Atlanta arose, the Colts began to formulate the idea of acquiring the 2016 AP Most Valuable Player. Despite Watson ultimately choosing the Cleveland Browns, the Colts persisted with their pursuit of Ryan once deciding he was an ideal fit.
“The first thing I’m looking at is, is the accuracy still there and what does the arm look like,” Reich explained. “So, dig into every throw from the last couple years. Look at the ball velocity, look at the length, look at the accuracy, look at the movement skills and I see no diminishing physical skills.”
Ryan, who will turn 37 years old by the time training camp starts, was just 32 passing yards short of eclipsing the 4,000-yard mark for the 11th consecutive season in 2021. With All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor blossoming into one the NFL’s best ball-carriers, a young corps of wide receivers and a roster with seven returning Pro Bowlers, Reich is excited to see what he believes will be a seamless transition into the Colts’ offense.
“I’m looking forward to digging into that this offseason with Matt, with our coaches,” Reich said. “It’s going to be 80 percent of what we’ve done in the past, 90 percent, but then there’s going to be tweaks. We will look through all of his film. We’ll pull out concepts that he’s done a lot in Atlanta and he’s been successful with. We’ll listen to how he’s thought about those things, how they compliment what we do and then we’ll find ways to integrate some of those things. Then I’m sure together, I can already tell in a few short discussions with him, that we will create some things together. Some of it is bringing together his old and what we’ve been doing, yet there’s still things that will be created together. I’m looking forward to those.”
The Colts 2021 season ended in disaster after a shocking Week 18 defeat to the three-win Jacksonville Jaguars effectively took them out of the playoffs. Reich sees a new day in Indianapolis with the arrival of Ryan, but also believes going through such a heart-breaking experience will benefit them in the future.
“When you finish the season the way we did, it eats at you forever. It will never go away,” said Reich. “I’ve just seen this time and time again, not only in my own career, but you just look around in sports history, this happens. It happens where you go through an epic collapse or failure, and then that actually turns out to be the very thing that sparks you to go to that next level. That’s what we’re believing and thinking is gonna happen in Indianapolis.”