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Colts' Matt Ryan Has a 'Little Deer-in-the-Headlight Complex', NFL Exec Says

Adam WellsSeptember 1, 2022

Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The addition of Matt Ryan has given the Indianapolis Colts a renewed sense of optimism for 2022 after a disappointing finish last season, but not everyone around the NFL believes in the former MVP.

One opposing team executive told The Athletic's Mike Sando that Ryan "has a little deer-in-the-headlight complex at this stage" of his career.

"Matt Ryan is good when he has a really good receiving tight end," the person added, "and I don't think they do. Who is the receiver they have that is going to get open right away?"

If we're judging Ryan off of his 2021 season, it's probably unfair to complain about him being effective with a really good receiving tight end.

Kyle Pitts was the only downfield threat the Atlanta Falcons had for most of the year. The 21-year-old led the team with 1,026 receiving yards and 15.1 yards per reception. Calvin Ridley only played in five games because of injuries.

Per Michael Fabiano of Sports Illustrated, Ryan led all quarterbacks last season targeting running backs on 26.1 percent of his dropbacks. He's going from a situation with Cordarrelle Patterson and Mike Davis to one with Jonathan Taylor.

Taylor was targeted 51 times by Carson Wentz last season. The Colts don't have burners on the outside, but Parris Campbell did show potential in 2021 with 16.2 yards per reception on just 10 catches.

Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce, who was the No. 53 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft, are going to be physical receivers who make a lot of contested catches.

Indianapolis' offensive line should also be much better than the Falcons group that protected Ryan last year. Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus ranked Atlanta's offensive line as the sixth-worst unit in the NFL in 2021. (The Colts were No. 12 overall.)

Ryan isn't an exciting quarterback at this point. He's never been the most mobile quarterback anyway, but at 37, he is more prone to being statuesque in the pocket.

But the Colts don't need him to be a superstar to win what looks like a very soft AFC South. They nearly made the playoffs last year with Wentz as their starter, even though head coach Frank Reich felt so bad about how that experiment went he apologized to team owner Jim Irsay.

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