E Point Perfect

Is Matt Ryan Cooked?


Is Matt Ryan Cooked?
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan. © Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Is Matt Ryan Cooked?

If the Minnesota Vikings want an opportunity to tighten things up in the secondary, and they need an opponent willing to play into that, nothing may be a better recipe than the Indianapolis Colts.

Matt Ryan leads them into U.S. Bank Stadium as an aging veteran, and while he’s trying to make new head coach Jeff Saturday look good, the results for his new team aren’t great.

Coming into 2022, the Indianapolis Colts decided to go in a new direction at quarterback. That’s unfortunately been a mantra since the retirement of Andrew Luck, and Jim Irsay’s team has failed to do anything to stop the revolving door. Carson Wentz was shipped off to the Washington Commanders, and Matt Ryan was acquired from the Atlanta Falcons. Despite being 37 years old, there was hope he had something left in the tank. That’s not looking too good right now.

Is Matt Ryan Cooked?

Is Matt Ryan Cooked?
Oct 16, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

Earlier this season, Ryan was benched in favor of rookie Sam Ehlinger. That experiment lasted just two weeks, and when first-time (at any level) head coach Jeff Saturday was installed, the veteran was brought back under center. On the season, Ryan is completing a healthy 67.8% of his passes, but his 6.7 yards per attempt is near a career low. He’s become a checkdown monster, and the arm strength has faded fast. Ryan’s 261 yards per game also doesn’t rank high on the list of his career totals, and it’s clear that the environment is doing him no favors.

Working with the Colts skill position group, Ryan essentially finds himself turning to Jonathan Taylor when needing help. Indianapolis boasts only Michael Pittman Jr. as a true receiving threat, manifested in the form of Ryan forcing action. With just 13 touchdowns thrown this season, Ryan also leads the league with 13 interceptions. He’s never thrown more than 17 in a season but is tracking to set a new career high.

Aug 20, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

Thinking back to when Ryan looked like a gunslinger and earned his MVP award, the Atlanta Falcons offense was a high-flying core that had the ball distributed all over the place. Ryan could dissect defenses, and those offenses were often seen racking up passing yards in bunches. Obviously, as he’s aged, his game has changed, but the Colts doing little to put talent around him means there’s virtually no chance for him to rise above.

This is a contest where the Vikings defense should be licking their chops. Even with its deficiencies, the secondary should see an opportunity to turn the ball over. The defensive front needs to get home and sack the quarterback, something they haven’t done in either of their past two games. Ryan’s 35 sacks this season are substantial, and it’s an opportunity for Minnesota’s front to feast.

Oct 23, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Sam Ehlinger (4) and quarterback Matt Ryan. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports.

There is really no reason why the Vikings shouldn’t come into Saturday’s contest with an extremely aggressive gameplan. The Colts aren’t going to burn a group on mistakes too often, and there’s plenty of opportunity to dictate gameflow. Understandably, Ryan would be trending downward as he ages, but this could be one of the worst teams that Minnesota will face all season. If that doesn’t present a get-right opportunity, nothing will.

Ed Donatell will have his starting safety Harrison Smith back this weekend, and that presents a safety blanket over the top. Minnesota may still struggle in the secondary, given the personnel they have to work with, but there’s no better time to challenge players than this.

Indianapolis, Matt Ryan, and the Colts are bringing opportunity. It will be on the Vikings to capitalize.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.


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