Why We Don’t Grade a Team in the Off-Season: The Story of the 2022 Indianapolis Colts

What's going on with the Colts this year?

Opinion 
Why We Don’t Grade a Team in the Off-Season: The Story of the 2022 Indianapolis Colts

3-4-1: What Happened? 

Just like with our previous quarterback, Carson Wentz, I was wrong about Matt Ryan. Ryan has been so bad, but I don’t want to put this all on him. This starts with Ballard, Reich, and a lack of accountability from the top. 

The team with the fourth highest paid offensive line ranks in the bottom 6 of the league according to Pro Football Focus’ rating system. These metrics are used to determine how effective a team is at combined pass blocking and rushing. To put it into a more statistical perspective, the Colts are:

  • 30th in sacks allowed (26)

  • 27th in rushing yards 

  • 29th in rushing yards per carry

  • 30th in points per game

All of these paired with the ineptitude from quarterbacks, contributes to poor offense. 

Matty-Ice Not So Nice

Let me start by saying, I would do the Matt Ryan deal 10/10 times if asked to do it again, but they lied to him about what the team could bring him and he couldn’t elevate just how bad it was. Matt Ryan also had his worst season on record with fumbling the football. Some of this is his inability to escape from strip sacks, some is attributed to poor QB and Center communication, and some is just bad plays from Ryan where he would get hit trying to do too much. But how bad was it:

  • 11 fumbles (only 3 lost) in 7 games as the starter

  • 9 Interceptions

  • Only 9 passing touchdowns

  • He took 24 sacks or about 3.5 sacks per game

I think this issue is to blame on a lot of things. Matt Ryan is older, he just turned 37 in May. The Colts O-Line issues are massive. The revolving door of mediocrity at quarterback is starting to rear its ugly head. Lastly, and probably the worst part is, this comes down to coaching. 

Where is the Frank Reich Magic from 2020?

The short answer to this question is Philly. Nick Siriani is the best offensive mind the Colts have had since Tom Moore. The Colts had a lot of eggs in Siriani’s basket, and his offensive scheme was incredible. He wasn’t afraid to make aggressive mistakes, and in doing so, Phillip Rivers had his best season in years. Jonathan Taylor was emerging as a star, with almost 1,200 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. The team was a missed field goal away from the AFC divisional round. 

Then in 2021, Frank Reich called plays, and Marcus Brady took over as offensive coordinator, where he was in charge of scheme. This year was more of the same, but with a larger decline of offensive line play, with no blocking tight ends, this was set up to be a disaster, and because of this, Marcus Brady was fired on 11/1/2022. 

What is going to happen now?

I have a few conjectures on the team now, with very little positivity:

  • First, I think the team is going to try and coerce Matt Ryan to retire. I really don’t think Matt Ryan is done, but after analyzing the tape, the mistakes, and his age; he won’t play in Indy next year, and cutting him will cost $24.6 million dollars. 

  • I think we have seen the end of the line for Frank Reich. The Colts just extended Reich and Ballard, but Irsay is an owner that expects competence and competitiveness. The team just doesn’t appear to respond to Reich anymore, and you cannot have a coach the team doesn’t respond to. 

  • I think the Colts will overhaul the roster. They have to. The team only has 38 players signed to contracts next year, with only $15 million in cap space. Look for players like Quentin Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Braden Smith, Stephon Gilmore, and Moe Allie-Cox to all get moved. This team basically should be brought down to the bare bones other than Jonathan Taylor, DeForest Buckner, and Darius Leonard.

  • Lastly, look for the team to make a play for a few quarterbacks in the league. The team will not have a high enough pick to get a top tier talent, and they will probably want to give Sam Ehlinger a chance. He has 9 games to really prove himself the rest of the season, and if not, expect a massive contract offer for Lamar Jackson or a potential trade for Trey Lance or Justin Fields. 

  • Lastly, this team is going to win with defense, but Ballard will be on the hot seat next year if he can’t get the offense figured out. There are a ton of good talents in this draft, and the team has 8 picks, so it’s time to make a big investment on the offensive side of the ball and get a true QB or an upgrade at receiver 1. 

How will the team do the rest of the year?

I am still irrationally high on the Colts. Sam Ehlinger made enough plays to be good and the Line only gave up 2 sacks, but their schedule isn’t easy. I think the team will finish 9-7-1 and squeak in as the 7 seed in the AFC. The defense is a top-5 unit with Darius Leonard on the field and the offense cannot get worse, right? If they make the playoffs, don’t expect Frank Reich to be fired and expect another treadmill of mediocrity quarterback.

Photos By: Phelan M. Ebenhack, AP.

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Zachary Barnett

Communication Major Class of 2023

You can find me covering a wide range of topics for the Campus Citizen, traveling around the United States to play trading card games, or drinking coffee on campus. Check out my freelance work at zlbcutomz.com and sixthmanpod.com. 

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