The Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line looks better, but it’s not quite to the level it needs to be at and Frank Reich must continue to address it.
Dear Frank Reich, I write this open letter to you to encourage you to make the next move to fix the offensive line that has been getting Matt Ryan killed through six games this year. It has only been six games so far this season, and Matt Ryan has been sacked 21 times! This is already more than Andrew Luck was sacked in two different seasons. In 2015, Luck was sacked just 15 times, and only 18 times in 2018.
Ryan is currently on pace to be sacked a total of 59 times through 17 games, which would make him the 10th-most sacked player in NFL history.
This last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars seemed to be an improvement from the previous weeks. It seemed like once Dennis Kelly was brought in at the left tackle position, the line seemed to get better with their protections.
In Week 6, the offensive line played their best ball protecting Matt Ryan not allowing for a single sack and in turn, Ryan was able to get the ball out often. In fact, the line was so good that Quenton Nelson was the fourth-ranked lineman for Indy last week according to Pro Football Focus with an overall 65.5 grade. Dennis Kelly led the offensive line with a 70.2 grade. But a problem remains.
Where does the issue remain for the Colts?
Even with the success, the offensive line had in Week 6, it’s still not perfect. After all, the Colts played the Jacksonville Jaguars who have had the top pick in the draft the last two seasons. This was a game the Colts should have always won. The line will need to be much better against the Tennessee Titans and the rest of the AFC if there will be any success in 2022.
The issue continues to be Matt Pryor on the offensive line. Frank, you’ve given Pryor every opportunity to succeed this year, but it’s time to hold him accountable.
Pryor’s best game came in Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs where he earned a 77.6 grade from PFF. The second-best game was in Week 1 against the Houston Texans with a 65.1 grade. If you remove those two games where he was serviceable, he has been dreadful to the offensive line.
This season, Pryor has allowed five sacks, four QB hits, 14 hurries, and 23 QB pressures. Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, and Braden Smith have allowed a total of five sacks, six QB hits, 15 hurries, and 26 QB pressures. Pryor almost has worse stats if you combined three offensive linemen together.
It is getting worse for Pryor the more we see of him on the offensive line and it is time to move on from him. The Colts’ coaching staff has corrected the left tackle position finally. This should not be an issue at the right guard position, considering Chris Ballard let two right guards walk in free agency.
How does the Colts’ issue at right guard get fixed?
There are different ways to work on getting this offensive line fixed moving forward, but that’s something that should have been figured out during camp and the preseason, not Week 7. In week 5, the Colts opted to bench Danny Pinter and move Braden Smith to the right guard position who did fairly well at the position. Smith was graded a 68.4 by PFF, which is his third-highest grade of the season.
Smith was very effective at the right guard position, which only allowed a single hurry and QB pressure. Moving him back inside to the right guard position would bolster the interior, leaving a spot at the right tackle position. This would also create the highest-paid guard duo in the NFL.
Leaving the right tackle position open, allows you to slide Bernard Raimann over from left to right to continue building him up. Just a week ago, Frank said that there will be growing pains and he needs to have reps in a game.
This might not be the ultimate solution, but it is certainly an option that is the most realistic.
If it came down to using the trade market before the November 1st trade deadline, Ballard should be calling the Minnesota Vikings and seeing what it would take to get Chris Reed back in Indianapolis.
Currently, Reed has played no snaps this season and is just sitting on the bench for a team that is doing well. If Ballard was able to offer a sixth or seventh-round pick, I think it is something the Vikings would do.
Remember who the boss is Frank Reich
At the end of the day Mr. Reich, you are the one on the sideline making the final decisions about playing time. If you don’t like what the offensive line coach is putting out there, make a change. This team’s success is dependent on your leadership.
Last week, it seemed like when Brandon Facyson was making too many mistakes, we saw more of Isaiah Rodgers. That is an entirely different issue with the defense. When it comes to offense, we need the same mindset. Hold players accountable and put in the players that the team needs to succeed.
This team cannot blame losses on a kicker, cut the kicker, and then continue to fail. If the team is going to go anywhere, the team relies on you to make those decisions and be the leader that you are supposed to be. Please sit Matt Pryor and hold him accountable. Make him earn his position back.