The Indianapolis Colts have had a revolving door at the quarterback position ever since Andrew Luck surprisingly retired from the NFL. The last time that he was the starting quarterback for the Colts was in 2018.
In 2019, Jacoby Brissett stepped into the lineup after Luck stepped away. Looking for an upgrade the following offseason, the Colts signed Phillip Rivers. Rivers announced his retirement following the 2020 season, leading to the acquisition of Carson Wentz from the Philadelphia Eagles.
Wentz was traded to the Washington Commanders this offseason as Indianapolis looked to make another change. They landed on veteran Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons this time, acquiring him via trade.
Ryan will be the fifth different quarterback that the Colts have starting under center in five years, but a change was necessary this time. Wentz fell well short of expectations during his one season as the starter, as he was unable to deliver when the team needed him most.
Indianapolis went 9-8 in 2021, but it was an inexplicable loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 18, when the Colts just had to win the game to make the postseason, that likely sealed Wentz’s fate. He had his worst game of the season when the Colts needed him most.
The team is hoping that Ryan will be able to provide steadier performance at the quarterback position. While he is no longer the MVP caliber player that he was earlier in his career, Ryan should still present an upgrade for the Colts’ offense.
He has shown in recent seasons despite a lack of talent around him that he can still get the job done. Ryan completed 67 percent of his passes last season for 3,968 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Wentz completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 3,563 yards, 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.
While people will point to Wentz having more touchdowns and fewer interceptions than Ryan, that doesn’t paint the whole picture. Wentz was better in most advanced metrics, but you have to take into account what each quarterback was working with to get the whole picture.
Ryan lost his best offensive playmaker in Calvin Ridley after only 10 games, as he stepped away to focus on his mental well-being. His best running back was converted wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson with Mike Davis proving ineffective. The leading receiver on the team was rookie tight end, Kyle Pitts.
It is easy to imagine how much better he would have performed with the weapons that Wentz had at his disposal. Michael Pittman Jr. emerged as a legitimate No. 1 target in his second season in the NFL. Jonathan Taylor is arguably the best running back in the NFL and the Colts also have a very strong offensive line.
The Colts can expect an offense that runs much smoother with Ryan under center. Teams will be more hesitant to load up and stack the box against Taylor as Ryan is much more capable of taking advantage of one-on-one opportunities than Wentz was last season. The play-action game that Ryan has thrived in throughout his career should be alive and well in Indianapolis.
Those are all things Ryan has been without in recent seasons with the Falcons and will benefit greatly from, with the change of scenery. He has succeeded in the past when surrounded by a strong supporting cast and there is no reason that he won’t be able to do it again in 2022.