The Colts started the season with so much promise, what went wrong?

Dec 4, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (2) reacts after a turnover during the second half against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 4, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (2) reacts after a turnover during the second half against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Indianapolis Colts entered the season as expected contenders but they’ve been one of the NFL’s worst teams. How did that happen?

When the Indianapolis Colts schedule was released, many thought the Week 14 bye was a prime opportunity for a preseason playoff contender to rest up with only four games to play in the regular season. Colts media was buzzing. Indianapolis had an exciting rookie class coming in to help, the team had traded for Pro Bowl pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue, and had signed 2019 Defensive Player of the Year cornerback Stephon Gilmore. What was the cherry on top? The Colts were trotting out their new quarterback who is destined for the hall of fame, Matt Ryan.

Fast forward to the final quarter of the season and Indy is third in the AFC South division, which is likely the worst division in the NFL. The Colts have three wins against AFC West opponents and another against the Jacksonville Jaguars but sit with a 4-8-1 record with their lone tie coming against the Houston Texans.

Matt Ryan is the fourth most sacked quarterback in the NFL despite second-year backup Sam Ehlinger starting two games in place of him, and Ryan also leads the league in fumbles and interceptions. The wide receivers can’t get open. The running game is barely averaging 100 rush yards per game. The defense seems to be playing okay despite the rest of the team failing to meet expectations. So, the question is, what happened to this team?

As previously mentioned, Matt Ryan has drastically underperformed. Further, many of the team’s struggles begin and end with Ryan. In all fairness, Ryan has nothing to prove to NFL fans as he’s in the top ten in league history in passing yards and touchdowns. Perhaps Ryan’s legacy is what raised expectations for the veteran signal-caller to play well this season.

Another reason this Colts team has disappointed is simply the injuries. Even though the defense has been the only bright spot of the season, one can’t help but wonder what the season would look like if Shaq Leonard was on the field for more than three games. As previously mentioned, Matt Ryan has missed two games as well, both of which the team lost. Key offensive contributors Michael Pittman Jr. and Jonathan Taylor have missed time with injuries also.

Despite all of the inconsistencies and injuries plaguing the team, no part of this team has disappointed more than the offensive line. The Colts brought back Matt Pryor to play left tackle and Danny Pinter was supposed to replace Mark Glowinski at right guard. Neither are starters anymore. Indy’s offensive line is the highest-paid offensive line in the NFL, yet is among the worst. Indianapolis has given up the most sacks, and rank 27th in average rushing yards. These results are not what you’d expect from an offensive line that’s led by All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson, Pro Bowler Ryan Kelly, and Braden Smith.

It’s unfortunate that Indy’s performance in 2022 has been a disappointment so far. The performance is quite the opposite of preseason expectations. Despite suffering through a season to forget, Indy will arrive at the offseason knowing exactly what went wrong this season. There are no quiet problems for the Colts. With plenty of cap space and a decent position in the draft, Indy has plenty of resources to shore up the offensive line, acquire talented depth pieces, and possibly find a permanent solution at quarterback.