With Matt Ryan now back in the starting lineup after missing two games, will the Indianapolis Colts regret forcing him to the bench?
In Week 10 against the Las Vegas Raiders, interim head coach, Jeff Saturday made the decision to reinsert veteran quarterback, Matt Ryan, into the starting lineup for the Indianapolis Colts. This came just a couple of weeks after Indy announced that Ryan was benched and that Sam Ehlinger would start for the rest of the season. However, with a new head coach, Saturday didn’t have to abide by decisions that were made prior to him coming on as coach.
In Ryan’s first game back in the lineup, he looked good. He completed 21-of-28 passes for 222 yards and one touchdown and he also led Indy on a game-winning drive. Not to mention, Ryan had a hilarious 39-yard run. Additionally, Matt was only sacked once and didn’t throw any interceptions or fumble the football. With the way Ryan stepped in and played, it’s fair to ask if the Colts regret benching Matt Ryan.
Was benching Matt Ryan a mistake by the Colts?
In the two games Sam Ehlinger started, Indianapolis lost both. The first game was in Week 8 against the Washington Commanders when Indy lost 17-16. In that game, Ehlinger completed 17-of-23 passes for 201 yards. In Week 9, when the Colts lost to the New England Patriots 26-3, things weren’t so pretty for Ehlinger. He was sacked nine times and completed just 15-of-29 passes for 103 yards.
Now, with Ryan back on the field playing well, it may be easy to say that he should’ve been in the lineup for Weeks 8 and 9. However, the Colts can’t really regret not starting Ryan in those games because he was actually hurt as well with a separated shoulder. In fact, Ryan didn’t even practice during the two weeks that Ehlinger was starting because he was recovering from his shoulder injury.
Also, to be fair to Ehlinger, neither of the two losses in the games he started were on him. There may be an argument that Ryan could’ve possibly put up more points against the Commanders, but at the end of the day, the Ehlinger-led offense put the game in Indy’s defense’s hands. The Colts were leading by six with under three minutes left and it was the defense that allowed Washington to drive down the field to win the game— Ryan couldn’t have made a difference there.
Against the Patriots, when Ehlinger was sacked nine times, it didn’t matter who was at quarterback, because they wouldn’t have been able to do anything under that type of pressure. So there’s no real case that Indy would’ve won those two games had Ryan been starting.
This isn’t to say that Ehlinger should be starting either, Ryan is the right choice for right now. He has proven that to be the case with some big passing performances and also with his clutch drives. However, he likely was going to miss Weeks 8 and 9 regardless. The mistake the Colts did make was vehemently closing the door on Ryan and announcing that Ehlinger would start for the rest of the season.
Knowing that Ryan would miss time with injury, Indy should’ve just let Sam start the two games to see how things would play out before ultimately making a decision. If the Colts did that, Saturday wouldn’t have had to come in and immediately make the organization backtrack. The premature decision to say that Ryan was done for the year just added to the dysfunction that has been at play for Indianapolis this season.