Colts coach Frank Reich on acquiring QB Matt Ryan: ‘We needed each other’

The spinning carousel of quarterbacks in Indianapolis can’t go unnoticed as the Colts are poised to enter 2022 with their fifth QB starting in as many seasons.

The Colts are the only team in NFL history to have a different QB starting more than 15 games in four consecutive seasons, according to NFL Research. Indy is on track to extend that remarkable stat after acquiring longtime Falcons QB Matt Ryan, who hasn’t missed a game in 12 seasons.

Frank Reich, who served as the Colts’ head coach in each of those four seasons, believes Ryan is the QB to not only end this trend, but also help lead Indianapolis to the promised land.

“I think everyone saw from the outside that it was a good choice,” Reich told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero during an interview at the league’s annual meeting on Sunday. “Like, people can universally agree that you have a guy who always plays at a high level with a team and a roster built to make noise. We needed each other.”

Ryan was not initially on the Colts’ radar after trading Carson Wentz to Washington COs on March 9, according to Reich. Once rumors of Deshaun Watson landing in Atlanta emerged, the Colts began to formulate the idea of ​​acquiring the 2016 AP Most Valuable Player. Although Watson ultimately chose the Cleveland Browns , the Colts persisted in their pursuit of Ryan, once deciding he was an ideal candidate.

“The first thing I look at is the precision that’s still there and what the arm looks like,” Reich explained. “So dig into every throw of the last two years. Look at ball speed, look at length, look at accuracy, look at movement skills and I don’t see any decrease in physical skills.”

Ryan, who will be 37 when training camp begins, was just 32 passing yards from eclipsing the 4,000 yard mark for the 11th straight season in 2021. With the All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor blossoming into one of the NFL’s best ball carriers, a young wide receiver corps and a roster of seven returning Pro Bowlers, Reich is excited to see what he thinks will be a seamless transition to the Colts offense.

“I’m looking forward to digging into that this offseason with Matt, with our coaches,” Reich said. “It’s going to be 80% of what we’ve done in the past, 90%, but then there will be adjustments. We’re going to look through all of his film. We’re going to come out with concepts that he did a lot in Atlanta and he made it. We’ll listen to how he thought about those things, how they complement what we do, and then find ways to incorporate some of those things. Then I’m sure together I can already say in a few short talks with him, that we will create things together. Some of them bring together his old and what we did, but there are still things that will be created together. I look forward to them.

The Colts’ 2021 season ended in disaster after a shocking Week 18 loss to the three-win Jacksonville Jaguars effectively knocked them out of the playoffs. Reich sees a new day in Indianapolis with the arrival of Ryan, but also believes that having such a heartbreaking experience will benefit them in the future.

“When you end the season like we did, it eats away at you forever. It’s never going to go away,” Reich said. “I’ve just seen this time and time again, not only in my own career but you just look around in the history of the sport, it happens. It happens when you go through an epic meltdown or failure and then it actually turns out to be the very thing that pushes you to take it to the next level.That’s what we believe and think will happen in Indianapolis.