Coming off of a 22-16 Christmas Day win against the Cardinals, the Indianapolis Colts were 9-6 and the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoff. Presumably, the Colts needed one more win either against the Raiders or the Jaguars to clinch a playoff spot.
Back home in Indy, the Colts lost to the Raiders, 23-20. Quarterback Carson Wentz completed only 16 of 27 pass attempts for 148 yards and one touchdown. It was a disappointing loss, but all the Colts needed to clinch a playoff spot was a win against a 2-14 Jaguars team.
The trip down to Jacksonville could not have gone any worse for the Colts. Wentz once again had a sub-par afternoon, going 17 for 29 with 185 yards and one touchdown pass, resulting in two Passing Total Points. You’d have expected an average quarterback to net five Passing Total Points. Running back Jonathan Taylor was held under 100 yards for only the 2nd time in the previous nine weeks, and the Colts ended their season with a 26-11 loss to the Jaguars.
After the season, the Colts’ front office minced no words about the disastrous finish down the stretch and quickly made changes for the upcoming season. The Colts traded Wentz, a 2022 2nd round pick and a 2022 7th round pick to the Commanders in exchange for their 2022 2nd round pick, 2022 3rd round pick and a conditional 2023 3rd round pick.
Then, they traded a 2022 third-round pick to the Falcons for Matt Ryan.
Ryan comes from a Falcons team that finished 7-10 a year ago and missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season. He averaged 7.1 yards per attempt, good for 21st among QBs with at least 100 passing attempts.
Ryan also had an Independent Quarterback Rating (IQR) of 92. IQR is a metric that adjusts passer rating to account for factors outside of the QB’s control. The 92 IQR ranked 22nd among QBs with at least 100 passing attempts. The Colts’ offensive line and running game give Ryan a solid supporting cast to succeed with.
Ryan’s Supporting Cast
One of those cast members is Taylor, who led the league with 1,811 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. Taylor was also third in EPA per attempt among running backs with at least 100 carries at 0.07.
The Colts’ offensive line was also one of the best in the league last year, ranking fifth in the NFL in Total Points at 199. For context, the Falcons’ O-line ranked worst in the league with 134 Total Points, nearly four points worse per game than the Colts. This will be a major upgrade for Ryan, who was sacked the ninth most times in the league last year.
Defensively, the Colts ranked 27th in Pass Coverage Total Points in 2021. To strengthen this unit, the Colts signed two players for their secondary: Stephon Gilmore and Brandon Facyson via free agency. Additionally, the Colts traded cornerback Rock Ya-Sin to the Raiders for pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue to improve a pass rush unit that ranked 22nd in sack percentage at 18%. Ngakoue will play opposite 2021 first-round pick Kwity Paye, who will be looking to take a big leap forward after a sub-par rookie season.
Kwity Paye Key 2021 Stats
|Statistic||Total||Rank (min. 25 Pressures)|
The Colts are projected to play the 10th-easiest schedule in the NFL, via the Total Points Team Strength Model from SIS. If the Colts can get cleaner play from a proven veteran quarterback in Ryan and improve on the passing defense, they will once again be a playoff team.
James Weaver contributed to this report.