Former Colts Coach On Matt Ryan Getting Benched For Sam Ehlinger: 2022 Season Is ‘almost Like A Waste’
Sam Ehlinger, a sixth-round pick by the Indianapolis Colts in 2021, has never thrown a pass in an NFL regular-season game.
The decision to replace Matt Ryan on the field by the Colts feels like a last-ditch effort by head coach Frank Reich and general manager Chris Ballard to energize their team’s 30th-ranked scoring offense (16.1 points per game).
Frank Reich’s Predecessor Believes Benching Matt Ryan Is Like Waving A White Flag
The only teams scoring at a lower rate than the Colts are the Pittsburgh Steelers (15.3 PPG), who are breaking in rookie Kenny Pickett, and the Denver Broncos (14.3 PPG), whose offense just can’t seem to get going.
Chuck Pagano, who served as Reich’s predecessor and is currently an analyst for The 33rd Team, stated he believed the decision signaled the team was delaying its commitment to the 2022 campaign.
Ryan Has Really Struggled.
According to Pagano, who spoke to the Indy Star, “He’s [Ryan] really struggled, and they’ve suffered, especially on the offensive side.” “After they let go of Carson [Wentz] a year ago and brought Matt in, there was so much excitement and potential surrounding that club and that squad going into this season. Lots much hope. You have sympathy for the group, the team, the locker room, and the spectators. What will the remainder of this year look like? It almost feels wasteful.”
The Colts, who are 3-3-1, just suffered their second setback of the year, a 19-10 defeat to AFC South foe Tennessee Titans. The franchise acquired Ryan, the 2016 NFL MVP, and four-time Pro Bowl quarterback, after trading a third-round pick for him. Despite being 37 years old, has not performed anywhere near such heights for the Atlanta Falcons. Although he has thrown for 2,008 yards and nine touchdowns, he also is first in the NFL for turnovers (12) and interceptions (9), as well as for the second-most sacks (24) in the league. Ryan has experienced more sacks than anyone other than Justin Fields, a second-year quarterback for the Chicago Bears (27).
Ryan Threw Back-to-back Interceptions, Including A Pick-six, Against Tennessee The Previous Week.
After trading their 2021 starter, Carson Wentz, to the Washington Commanders, the benching occurs only seven games into the 17-game regular season. Wentz has 27 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions while playing for Indianapolis last season, but his performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 18’s must-win game with a playoff spot on the line led team owner Jim Irsay to call Wentz’s signing “a mistake.” When Indianapolis and Washington play in Week 8, neither Ryan nor Wentz will get the start because Wentz has a fractured finger on his throwing hand and has been placed on injured reserve.
Pagano Witnessed The Colts’ Quarterback In Person.
With 2012’s top overall pick Andrew Luck in charge for his first three seasons, which included missing 12 games in 2012 (his rookie season) while receiving cancer treatment, Indianapolis won 11 games annually. After that, Luck’s injuries started to mount as he was playing behind a struggling offensive line, and the team didn’t finish with a winning record in his final three seasons. In 2015, a 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck made eight starts, and in 2017, Pagano’s final campaign as the Colts’ head coach, Jacoby Brissett made 15 starts (4-11 W-L), with Luck out for the year.
Although Ehlinger is a rookie in the NFL, Reich must be impressed with what he has seen during practices, training camp, and the preseason before naming the second-year quarterback the starter.
In the 2022 preseason, the former Texas Longhorn completed 24 of his 29 throws for 289 yards and four passing touchdowns, as well as adding a running touchdown. Jonathan Taylor, the 2021 NFL running yards leader, missed Weeks 5 and 6 due to an ankle injury, so Reich may have thought that Ehlinger, a quarterback who rushed for 1,903 yards and 33 touchdowns in 43 college starts, could help the team’s ground attack.
Ehlinger has “arm talent,” according to Pagano. He moves around a lot. He is intelligent, strong, and smart. He will do a good job of overseeing the games. He won’t find it to be excessively huge. They liked the child, according to Chris Ballard, general manager of the Colts. They were very complimentary of Sam and believed that,, with some time, he can mature and perhaps turn into a guy. He will receive a shot, and in the ensuing weeks, everyone will learn more about him and decide whether to move on to discover another candidate or not. He will have a wonderful chance to demonstrate his abilities thanks to this.