INDIANAPOLIS – To the degree it was an issue remains a bit of a mystery, but the Colts were definitely not completely pleased with the professionalism from their starting quarterback last year.
That doesn’t appear to be the case with Matt Ryan in 2022.
While the Colts did not have many, if any, prior relationships in their building with Ryan, they have quickly seen why this guy was so beloved upon his time coming to an end in Atlanta.
Whereas Carson Wentz’s exit from Philadelphia came with extensive questions about him in the locker room, those weren’t there with Ryan’s departure.
After seeing Ryan operate during the 8-week spring offseason program, the Colts walked away from the spring in a far different state than they were back in March, as they were desperately looking to move on from Wentz.
“Matt was unbelievable, did a great job, great command – really, A-to-Z,” Frank Reich said after the end of the team’s minicamp a few weeks back.
“He did everything right, just great leadership, great play. The whole way he took command, great collaborating as an offensive staff with him to kind of work in and nuance some of the things we do to kind of suit him and his style. Kind of get to learn a few things about him, pick his brain about some of the things he did and what are the favorite things he did in Atlanta. Let’s see if we can incorporate a few of those things and kind of fit with us. So we got a lot of that done over the last number of weeks.”
Given Ryan’s track record, you can see why the team has an uptick in confidence with their quarterback this year.
The Colts witnessed some of Ryan’s actions in the spring time, which backed up the words he shared at his March introductory presser about leadership.
“To me, leadership is about serving your teammates,” the new Colts quarterback said. “The one thing I’ve learned in 14 years is what certain guys need from you is different. What each team that you’re on needs from you as a player and a leader is different. You have to get to know your guys, you have to get to know your teammates really well and how they tick and how they need to be motivated and what are the things that you can help them with to bring out the best in themselves.
“That’s going to be a really exciting challenge for me, is to try and get to know this group of guys in this locker room, this coaching staff as best I can and figure out how I work in that and figure out the things I can bring into it. I’ve always believed you need to be flexible in your leadership. You need to kind of read the room for lack of a better term, but you better be principled. There have to be things that are non-negotiable that you believe in, how you do things, how you work that come through and show through to other people. I’ve definitely been flexible throughout my career and I’m certainly at a different point now than I was at 23, 24 with the experience that I have.”
Ultimately, Ryan will have to truly prove himself on the field.
No matter how nice or welcoming of a teammate one is, performance on the field is the ultimate factor in impacting how much of that is taken in.
Ryan knows that.
But there’s no doubt he’s built a strong early foundation in his first new NFL home.
“To be honest with you, just be myself,” Ryan says of his big goal in coming to Indy and connecting with new teammates. “I think number one, you have to learn the offense. You have to know what you’re talking about. You have to be able to speak their language. That’s the thing I said from the start is that you’ve got to help me here too. Understanding that at the very beginning, guys are probably further along that I was. There’s no doubt about it and not being too hardheaded about it. Saying, ‘Listen, I’m going to need your help too. You’re going to have to help me where I can.’
“We have such a young group and to me, it’s just I’m trying to help you be the best player you can be. I expect the same from you too when it’s your turn to get me going and they’ve done that. Our guys have done a good job of really just trying to be myself and make sure I’m as knowledgeable on the offense as I can be to kind of help those guys.”