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The Colts have gone to the veteran QB well quite a bit.  It’s worked in the past (Philip Rivers) and it hasn’t (Carson Wentz).  Through five games, the Matt Ryan Experience has been a bumpy one.  He sure seemed like an upgrade over Wentz heading into the season but his recklessness with the football has put a lot of fans on edge and called into question if he’ll be the latest one-year starter.  It got me thinking about the Colts current QB situation, which they’ve put themselves in yet again.  If you could snap your fingers and put one of the other 31 starting QBs under center for the Colts, how many would you pick over Matt Ryan right now?  The list of who you WOULDN’T select is significantly a lot shorter, but for fun let’s see where he stands.

The Absolute Group

Let’s start off by getting the easy ones out of the way: You would absolutely take the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Aaron Rodgers, Jalen Hurts, Tom Brady, Dak Prescott (when healthy).  I think the only semi-controversial name on this list would be Brady, given his history with the city of Indianapolis and the fact that it appears his age is finally catching up to him.  But I still think he offers a superior skill set than what we’ve seen from Ryan to this point and he could elevate the young wide receiver group.

That’s 10 out of the gate.

The Probably Group

This group is more of guys who you would more than likely take over Ryan at this point.  While they have had hiccups in the past, the potential of better success with the current Colts roster is the deciding factor.

Deshaun Watson – Would most assuredly be in the group above this one but given the fact that he’s been suspended for horrific allegations and hasn’t even played a game of regular season football in nearly two years, it’s impossible to know if when he does return that his skills will remain intact.  If all things were even, and Watson wasn’t facing the off-the-field issues he is then from a pure football standpoint he would be a better solution than Ryan.

Matthew Stafford – A Super Bowl winning QB, he’s always put up numbers.  This season has been very up and down for Stafford.  His connection with Cooper Kupp is elite but the absence of Odell Beckham Jr, the trading of Robert Woods and apparently forgetting Allen Robinson is on the roster at all have hampered his season so far.  Would he be even half of the QB he is in LA given the weapons?  Who knows?  From everything we heard before the trade for Wentz, despite Stafford being available, was he was not viewed highly in the front office.  In my opinion, Stafford has proven he has the arm and escapability that Ryan simply doesn’t possess.

Jared Goff – The guy who headed to Detroit in the Stafford trade but has found a group of young wide receivers that he’s found a connection with.  I’ve never been a big Goff fan, but what he’s done so far with the likes of Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds and T.J. Hockenson has been impressive.  His 11 touchdown passes are 4th best in the NFL so far. This is without much contribution from D.J Chark and the unknown potential of Jameson Williams.  Goff has elevated the weapons around him so far.

Kyler Murray – The new Call of Duty hasn’t dropped yet, but Kyler Murray’s season has been about as hot and cold as his relationship with head coach Kliff Kingsbury.  Murray’s stats are similar to Ryan’s when it comes to completion percentage, total yards and touchdowns but his turnover margin is significantly lower and his sack rate isn’t even close to Ryan’s, a tribute to his ability to use his quickness to evade would be pass rushers.  While I don’t love everything I’ve seen from Murray, especially the contract the Cardinals inked him to, I still think he’d be an improvement over Ryan.

Geno Smith – I don’t think anyone saw this coming but Smith is having an excellent career resurgence in Seattle.  Once the Seahawks decided to trade Russell Wilson (more on him later) it seemed they were destined to be relegating themselves back to their late 80’s irrelevance but Smith has put the franchise on his back through the first five weeks.  Completing an unreal 75-percent of his passes, he’s tied with Josh Allen for yards per completion (8.3), he’s got the highest QB rating (113.1) in the entire league and he owns 9 touchdowns to 2 interceptions.

We’re up to 15.

Potential Is There Group

This is the group where I feel like you can start having debates on if you’d rather have Matt Ryan or the guys listed below.  For me, these guys still rate above Ryan because of age and potential with the roster the Colts have assembled.

Tua Tagovailoa – The Dolphins did something the Colts simply refused to do: Give Matt Ryan adequate weapons to work with.  The development of Jaylen Waddle combined with the mega trade that landed Miami Tyreek Hill has done wonders for Tua.  They added depth at running back with Raheem Mostert joining Chase Edmonds and they bolstered the offensive line in free agency with Terron Armstead.  Tua has shown flashes before his devastating injuries in back-to-back games.  Whenever he returns, the hope first and foremost is his health is fully intact.  There is a lot of potential there, whether that would translate on the Colts given the state of their roster is up to personal debate.

Kirk Cousins – Everyone knows what Kirk Cousins is.  He’s good enough to put up numbers but not a “win because of” guy when it comes to playoff success.  His eye-popping numbers are a product of the environment he’s in: Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook will make anybody look really good.  Could he even sniff the numbers he put up in Minnesota with what we’ve got here in Indianapolis?  I tend to doubt he elevates them much over Ryan, but he’s definitely more mobile.  He has a tendency to turn the ball over on a regular basis though.

Carson Wentz – I’ll wait until your done puking.  Are you done yet?……..Pop in a breath mint and keep reading.  The fact that this is even a question should alarm even the most loyal of Colts fans.  Wentz, despite putting up 27 TDs to 7 interceptions with the Colts drew the ire of fans and ownership in his lone season with the team.  Indianapolis shipped him to Washington and rubbed their hands together for the inevitable results.  So far?  Not terrible.  Not great either, also known as The Carson Wentz Effect.  On paper his numbers look impressive and then you see him underhand toss the ball with his left hand right to an opponent.  Without question, Wentz has better weapons in Washington than what the Colts have at the moment.  Terry McLaurin is a quarterback’s dream, they seem to have hit on rookie Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel is a serviceable No. 3.  Wentz has already seemed to ruffle feathers as head coach Ron Rivera says “quarterback” was holding the Commanders from being in the 4-1 club like their division opponents.  Wentz has more mobility than Ryan, but clearly the front office didn’t think he had an advantage between the ears or in a leadership role.  They better hope they were right.

Justin Fields/Trevor Lawrence/Mac Jones – I’m lumping these three quarterbacks together because I think strictly based on potential the majority would lean towards them over Ryan.  Aside from having youth on their side I think if either of these three were currently on the Colts we would excuse the turnovers or poor play given the circumstance.  I don’t think either of these three are leading any team to the Super Bowl at the moment but their ability, whether it be arm strength, elusiveness or just knowing these guys aren’t 1-year stop gaps would be a boost to the fan base.

Jimmy Garoppolo – Here’s an interesting one, and if the Colts continue to go to the well of the veteran QB, Garoppolo could be a likely target for them in 2023.  I’m not a Jimmy G hater.  I’m not a Jimmy G lover either.  He’s a serviceable QB in a 49ers system that he clearly gels well with.  It helps when you have one of the most dynamic players in football (Deebo Samuel) and a top-5 tight end (George Kittle).  How he would fare if you plucked him off the 49ers and onto the current Colts?  Again, mobility goes in his favor over Ryan given the porous state of the Colts offensive line. Michael Pittman Jr. isn’t as dynamic as Samuel and after he and Alec Pierce it’s a steep fall off in weapons.  Jimmy G is a fringe QB that is in no means a long-term solution but he could be a win with QB.

We’re at 22.

Take Your Pick Group

This is the group where I could make an argument that Matt Ryan, despite his flaws this season, is the superior quarterback.  I could also make the argument the players listed below could hold the slightest of edges.

Jameis Winston – A guy many fans had circled on their off-season possibility list.  Winston was one of the few intriguing free agent quarterbacks and the Colts were looking like a team without a quarterback before they traded for Winston.  He’s posted a 33 touchdown/30 interception season and while he seems fine, he’s just a stop gap QB until the team he’s on fines a better option.  Could he have a better season that Ryan if he were on the Colts?  Maybe.  He’s certainly more careless with the football, which could lead to some exciting moments and also ones that make you tear your hair out.

Ryan Tannehill – It sure seems like Tannehill is regressing at this point.  It doesn’t help the Titans made the bizarre decision to deal his top wideout, A.J. Brown, to the Eagles in the off-season.  Tannehill is a lower-tier starter at this point of his career and could be seeing his days as a starter winding down quickly with Malik Willis waiting in the wings.


Matt Ryan Is Better Than Group

The name should say it all but this is the group of QBs I would take Matt Ryan over at this moment.  Whether they’re on the downswing of their careers or just not very good to begin with.

Russell Wilson – This is a shocking one.  To see Wilson fall as far and as fast as he has is alarming.  He has been out of sync since he got to Denver.  There seems to be no chemistry with his wide receivers, his decision-making is downright dreadful both on the field and off (looking at you, Subway commercial). He’s reportedly dealing with an injury, so maybe that’s playing some sort of a role but some of the brain farts he’s had in games makes me happy the Colts didn’t back up the truck of draft picks and money like the Broncos did.

Marcus Mariota – Another quarterback who was available in free agency.  Mariota is a good backup.  He’s clearly only the Falcons’ starter until they feel confident in Desmond Ridder or draft a QB in 2023.  He was the result of the Falcons failing to land Deshaun Watson and knowing there was no way of salvaging Matt Ryan sticking around.

Baker Mayfield – Woof.  Never been a Baker guy and it’s clear why.  He’s just not very good.  He seems to consistently underperform and the league seems to back up those thoughts considering it looked like he legit was not going to have a landing spot in the league one the Browns moved off of him.  He landed with the Panthers, who seem to be the land of mid quarterbacks at the moment.  Mayfield was another name that popped up as a potential name for the Colts in the off-season and thank god they avoided him.

Daniel Jones – The Giants are 4-1 and seem to be in spite of Daniel Jones.  A bad pick when the Giants selected him 6th overall in the 2019 draft, he’s never materialized into much of anything.  He has worst stats than Joe Flacco at the moment and that’s saying something.  He has worse wide receivers than the Colts do but I don’t think he’d be doing anything if he was wearing a horseshoe on the side of his helmet.

Kenny Pickett/Zach Wilson/Davis Mills – Feel free to insert Mitch Trubisky or Joe Flacco in place of their teammates, it wouldn’t matter.   Matt Ryan is right now, better than these options.  I believe all three guys could easily leapfrog him as the season progresses but there is just such a limited body of work for all three that it’s hard to draw any conclusions.  Mills just has not much to work with on a totally rebuilding Texans squad, Pickett has been thrown into the fire in Pittsburgh and Wilson just got back on the field after MILF hunting in the off-season.  For now, give me Matt Ryan over them.

By my count, that’s seven starting quarterbacks I would take Matt Ryan over.  It’s not exactly ideal, considering the front office of the Colts would have you believe this team is fighting for a Super Bowl.  They clearly aren’t and Matt Ryan’s play to this point hasn’t helped matters.  Has he missed a step?  Maybe.  Has the roster constructed around him helped him at all?  Not at all.

Let me know if you think I’m on point or way off base on my assessment.  Sadly for the Colts, I think I’m spot on.

-Marc Dykton

Be sure to listen to Kevin & Query every weekday morning from 7-10 on 93.5 & 107.5 The Fan!

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