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Matt Ryan Affirms Why Colts Must Move On at QB in Loss to Cowboys

After Matt Ryan’s abysmal performance against the Dallas Cowboys, the Indianapolis Colts cannot go into 2023 with Ryan as QB1.

If it was not apparent before, it is now.

Matt Ryan cannot be the starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts heading into 2023.

It is a sad fact on top of a disappointing season for the Colts in 2022. The Colts were thoroughly embarrassed by the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, falling 54-19 at AT&T Stadium. After cutting the lead to 21-19 at the end of the third quarter, the Cowboys scored 33 unanswered points in the fourth quarter – a franchise record – to bury the Colts for good.

While the loss is not directly on Ryan, he played a significant part in the Colts dropping to 4-8-1 on the season. Ryan was 21-of-37 (57%) for 233 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions, a fumble, and a QB rating of 59.9. When your starting quarterback gives the ball to the other team four times on the night, it is going to be hard to win any game.

“You’re not going to win many games when you turn it over as much as we did,” Ryan said after the game. “So, it becomes difficult.”

When the Colts traded for Ryan back in the spring, the 2022 season was never supposed to go this way. Ryan was supposed to bring stability to the quarterback position for the Colts, as Indy hoped he would be more than just a one-year rental. Playing behind a top offensive line, and assisted by one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL, everything was in place for Ryan to have a career resurgence.

Nobody expected the 2022 season to unfold the way it has. The offensive line has been a turnstile for most of the year. The running game has been a shell of what it was in 2021. And Ryan has looked like an old quarterback on the last leg of his career.

Nov 28, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (2) walks off the field following the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium.

One of the biggest things that has plagued Ryan all year has been turnovers. Ryan has thrown 13 interceptions in 11 games, most in the NFL. The veteran quarterback has also fumbled the ball 14 times on the season, once again leading the league. The Colts’ offense cannot possibly overcome that.

On top of the turnovers, Ryan has been beaten to a pulp. The Colts have allowed Ryan to be sacked 35 times in just 11 games. Ryan is on pace to have the highest sack percentage of his career.

Because of the constant pressure, Ryan is sensing pressure before it is getting to him. The quarterback is beginning to panic when the pocket is still clean and opts for his check downs very quickly, even when there are open options down the field. The result is an offense that rarely throws the ball deep and becomes very predictable.

But even when Ryan has time in the pocket, the throws just are not the same as they were just a few years ago for #2. The velocity on his throws is non-existent, signaling his arm is shot. The game has seemingly sped up for him, as Ryan is routinely late on his throws and reads, getting himself into trouble.

All of this points to a quarterback that is washed. Ryan has had an incredible career, currently sitting seventh all-time in passing yards and ninth all-time in passing touchdowns. But the writing is on the wall, and the 15-year vet needs to hang it up.

So, what should the Colts do about Ryan moving forward? It is time to move Ryan to the bench. There are various reasons why the Colts should consider benching Ryan for the rest of the season.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (2) walks the sideline Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, during a game against the Washington Commanders at Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The first reason is the language in Ryan’s contract. Ryan is already guaranteed $12 million from the Colts in 2023, regardless of his roster status. However, he is potentially owed $17.2 million more if he is on the roster on the third day of the league year in March. The $17.2 million would also be guaranteed if Ryan becomes injured and cannot pass a physical by that time as well. It is best to sit Ryan so there is no chance he becomes injured.

The next reason is that, with four games remaining, the Colts should use this as an evaluation period for everyone on the roster. That includes second-year quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who started two games earlier this year when Ryan was dealing with a shoulder injury. With the Colts facing questions at quarterback again this offseason, it would be beneficial to afford Ehlinger more playing time as they gather a full evaluation of the former sixth-round pick.

And finally, while the players and coaches may not want to hear it, wins and losses do not mean anything at this point for the Colts. Nobody on the team will admit this, nor would they ever purposely try to lose games, but losing more games will give the Colts a better draft position in April’s NFL Draft. The Colts will likely look to draft their new quarterback of the present and future in the first round, and a better draft position increases their odds of selecting one of the top quarterback prospects.

Any way you look at it, Ryan should be done in a Colts’ uniform. The Colts will embark on their bye week this week, but Jeff Saturday and his staff have a lot to think about.

The decision should be simple. Sorry, Matt, you’re done.

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