There is a lot of pressure on every starting quarterback in the NFL, when you win you get praised but when you lose you get ripped to pieces by the media and fans. Matt Ryan throughout his career has seen his fair share of criticism, warranted or not, but this year, with the Indianapolis Colts, he is being ripped to shreds even though most of the struggles are due to the disastrous situation he is in.
Ryan is playing his first season in the NFL outside of Atlanta and it has been a complete nightmare. Most expected to see the veteran quarterback lead a “talented” Indianapolis Colts team to the playoffs but that has been far from the case as they have self-destructed.
Matt Ryan’s poor play is the Indianapolis Colts’ own fault, but Ryan will take the blame
Many people are going to argue against this, but just hear me out, Matt Ryan has not been given a fair shot with the Indianapolis Colts.
Yes, his statistics are quite bad but look at the complete mess he has surrounding him. He has an offensive line that is beyond terrible, receivers who drop the ball and can’t get open, a running game that has completely disappeared, and a coach who has lied to him and is making very poor decisions.
Starting with the offensive line, they are painfully bad. They have had eight linemen play at least 60 snaps for them and they have given up a league-leading 24 sacks. Their left tackle, Matt Pryor, has given up 28 pressures and five sacks by himself! Hard to do anything when you essentially have a free rusher off the snap from your blindside on every play.
Their receivers have ten drops on the year and their leading receivers are Michael Pittman Jr. who has been inconsistent and Alec Pierce who is a rookie. Matt Ryan is the same quarterback who was able to play well despite having Russell Gage and Olamide Zaccheaus as his top-two wideouts last year. Watching the Colts you see a lot of receivers that struggle to get open, hence why you see a lot of check downs by Ryan.
Also consider, that he has a completion percentage of 70% on passes 20+ yards down the field, it is not like he is having an issue with pushing the ball down the field when guys can actually get open.
Their running game, well, most people know the story. Jonathan Taylor led the league in rushing last year and their team had the second-most rushing yards last season. This season is a completely different story, as the Indianapolis Colts have the 30th-ranked rushing offense. Ryan was promised a strong running game when he went to Indianapolis and instead has been given the complete opposite.
And then his head coach Frank Reich, who claimed two weeks ago that he was totally comfortable with Matt Ryan as his starting quarterback, only to bench him for the remainder of the season. Oh, and in between those two statements, Ryan played a spectacular game despite the fact that Frank Reich expected him to pass the ball 60 times in one game. No one praised him for that.
All of those things add up to a disastrous situation for any quarterback, but if you are still not convinced it is the Colts’ fault then let’s look at Ryan’s individual stats compared to other noteworthy QBs.
Matt Ryan’s stats with the Indianapolis Colts are better than many notable QBs
Only Tom Brady and Matt Stafford have worse running games than Matty Ice, no QB has been sacked more than Ryan this season, only Justin Herbert has attempted more passes than Ryan, no quarterback has completed more passes than Ryan, and Ryan is top five in both completion percentage and passing yards.
But we aren’t done yet, Ryan has more touchdown passes than Tom Brady, Jalen Hurts, Kyler Murray, Matt Stafford, Daniel Jones, and Russell Wilson. He has a lower interception percentage than Matt Stafford and the same percentage as Lamar Jackson, and has a higher touchdown percentage than Tom Brady, Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, and Matt Stafford.
If Matt Ryan deserves to be benched then so does Matt Stafford, Russell Wilson, and even Tom Brady.
While Matt Ryan does have a ton of fumbles and interceptions, he actually has a lower ‘turnover-worthy play percentage’ than Derek Carr, Justin Fields, Jared Goff, Zach Wilson, Tua Tagovailoa, and Dak Prescott, to name a few, according to Pro Football Focus.
Matt Ryan last week against the Jaguars completed 42 of 58 passes (72.4%) for 389 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. That is a pretty darn good game.
Frank Reich basically told him to go out there and drop back every single play and he delivered. No coach should be asking their QB to drop back 60 times in a game unless they are Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen, but Reich and his coaching staff are basically telling him to do that every week. He only has one game this year where he attempted fewer than 37 passes and that was in a week two loss where they were shutout.
Many of the interceptions and fumbles are his doing but there are not many quarterbacks who wouldn’t make numerous mistakes with the lack of support he has around him. The Indianapolis Colts have failed him this year and are essentially saying he is the failure by benching him and telling him he is done for the year. It is a shame that they have and will continue to waste a future Hall of Fame quarterback.
Not only did they bench him but they buried him on the depth chart as now Sam Ehlinger is QB1 and Nick Foles is QB2. If Ehlinger does end up succeeding, it will be solely due to his athletic ability and nothing else.
Hopefully, this is not the end for Matt Ryan as he deserves better than this. It is an unfair situation and assessment of the veteran quarterback. We can only hope that he will prove them all wrong soon, but it is tough to see a situation where he actually gets a chance to play anytime soon.
Frank Reich and his coaching staff should be looking in the mirror asking themselves if Matt Ryan is actually the problem or if he has had little chance to succeed due to poor play around him and awful play calling.
Jim Irsay and Frank Reich should realize by now that maybe it isn’t the individual quarterbacks that are the reason for their failure to find a reliable QB and that it is instead them and the foundation of their franchise.