INDIANAPOLIS – Colts fans are used to this by now.
They haven’t had the same starting quarterback in consecutive seasons since 2015-16.
Indy fans will be watching Matt Ryan under center in 2022, and he brings a vastly different style of quarterbacking than the departing Carson Wentz.
You can even sense that in hearing from Chris Ballard and Frank Reich describing this move.
“We’re thrilled we had a chance to acquire a proven veteran in Matt Ryan who brings tremendous experience to our team,” Ballard said in a team press release. “Matt’s leadership and skillset will complement our roster’s growth and success. He’s long been a great ambassador for the NFL and the Atlanta Falcons, and we’re excited he can continue his accomplished career in Indianapolis.”
“I’ve long admired Matt for his steady, methodical approach to the game,” Reich added. “He is one of the most productive quarterbacks in the league and has spearheaded numerous fourth quarter game-winning drives. Matt will be a fantastic representative for our organization, and I’m excited to get to work with him and the rest of the team this offseason.”
Let’s examine the different style that Ryan will bring to the QB position in Indy:
-Processing, Leading To Better Accuracy: Compared to Wentz, Ryan’s mental capacity to handle and process things pre-snap, and then execute that quickly post-snap should be better. Yes, Ryan isn’t as familiar with this offense as Wentz, but he’s got 14 years of NFL experience that should help him in the identifying aspect of playing quarterback. There were questions about how Wentz used his eyes and his struggles in reading/processing. Given Ryan’s acumen at the position, the Colts should be better there. Having a more accurate and on-time quarterback should be there more consistently in 2022.
-Leader: Whether you read the quotes from the Atlanta brass on Ryan leaving the only place he’s played in 14 NFL seasons, or the words above from Chris Ballard and Frank Reich, there’s zero waffling on this quarterback off the field. Similar to Philip Rivers from 2020, Ryan should immediately walk into the Colts locker room and command respect. The same could not be said for Wentz. This will be hard to see on Sunday’s, but it’s clearly something the Ballard/Reich staff are expecting to be different.
-Clutch Moments: Look at what Reich says above about Ryan “…spearheaded numerous fourth quarter game-winning drives…” The Colts were not a good fourth-quarter team last year. Wentz often wilted as the game moved along. “Matty Ice” is known for his play when the game is on the line. Something that really bothered Chris Ballard last year was a 2-5 record in one-score games. Ryan has history performing on such a final-quarter stage, and his individual postseason numbers are impressive, too. That’s something Wentz wasn’t bringing to the table.
-Mobility: Probably the biggest physical difference between Wentz and Ryan will come from the plays the two can make with their legs. The run/pass option game won’t go away with Ryan quarterbacking the Cotls, but the ‘run’ element to that will be pretty non-existent. In today’s NFL, you don’t see many quarterbacks left that lack some level of mobility. Ryan falls in the category of Matthew Stafford in this part of their game. He’s not a Rivers-like statue, but isn’t keeping plays alive like Wentz did. That limits things and will constrict the RPO game we saw with Wentz in 2021.
-Arm Strength: Again, compared to Wentz, the Colts will have slightly less ‘arm talent’ at quarterback in 2021. It’s not a major issue, but it’s something that will be different. Of course, there were times where you couldn’t fully feel the arm of Wentz because of an inability by him to show that off. There’s no denying that Ryan has had a recent decline. His intended yards per attempt number last year was near the bottom of the NFL. His quarterback rating last season was the lowest of his 14-year career. Is this some sort of Father Time starting to build? Ryan doesn’t have a ‘noodle arm,’ but the true big play numbers have dwindled a bit for him in recent years.