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Colts Bench Matt Ryan for Nick Foles vs. Chargers in Week 16 After Vikings Loss

Adam WellsDecember 21, 2022

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 04: Matt Ryan #2 of the Indianapolis Colts warms up before kickoff against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on December 4, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Matt Ryan has been benched for the second time this season.

Indianapolis Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday announced Nick Foles will start their Week 16 game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday night.

The quarterback change comes after Ryan and the Colts blew a 33-point lead Saturday in a 39-36 overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

ESPN's Dan Graziano noted the plan is for Foles to start the final three games of the regular season.

The Colts previously benched Ryan after a Week 7 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Then-head coach Frank Reich announced Oct. 24 that second-year quarterback Sam Ehlinger would take over as the starter.

"Right now, the move is for Sam to be the starter the rest of the season," Reich said. "It's a big step, but we think he's ready. This guy's special. You all know it, everybody knows it. Just talk to anybody in that locker room."

Per The Athletic's Zak Keefer, Colts owner Jim Irsay led the charge to bench Ryan, and general manager Chris Ballard has "long thought Sam Ehlinger's had something to him."

After the Colts fired Reich following a Nov. 6 loss to the New England Patriots and hired Saturday on an interim basis, Ryan returned to the starting lineup for the Colts in their next game.

Ryan put up arguably his best performance of the season against the Las Vegas Raiders. He went 21-of-28 for 222 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions in a 25-20 win.

In four games since that victory, though, Ryan has completed 62.5 percent of his attempts for 827 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions and has been sacked 13 times.

Indianapolis has lost all four of those games, including allowing the Vikings to pull off the largest comeback in NFL history Saturday.

Even in building a 33-0 lead in the first half against Minnesota, the Colts offense wasn't moving the ball. Ryan finished 19-of-33 for 182 yards and one touchdown. The four-time Pro Bowler leads the league with 13 interceptions and 15 fumbles despite missing two games.

Foles has only appeared in one game this season, taking two garbage-time snaps in a 24-0 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2. The Super Bowl LII MVP hasn't started a game since Week 16 of the 2021 season when he led the Chicago Bears to a 25-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

The 4-9-1 Colts are in third place in the AFC South. Their final three games of the season are against the Chargers, New York Giants and Houston Texans.