It was Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay's decision to bench veteran quarterback Matt Ryan for Sam Ehlinger following a Week 7 loss to the Tennessee Titans, former head coach Frank Reich told The Athletic's Zak Keefer.
"He's a one-man crew," Reich said of Irsay's influence.
Reich's comments come after Irsay told ESPN's Michelle Beisner-Buck that he regretted giving the former head coach a contract extension in August 2021.
"I reluctantly gave Frank an extension sooner than I wanted to," Irsay said.
Reich will receive as much as $36 million from the Colts through 2026 as the franchise fired him with four years remaining on his contract worth $9 million annually, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Reich took over as head coach of the Colts in 2018 and led the team to a 40-33-1 record and two postseason appearances before being fired.
The Colts acquired Ryan in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons ahead of the 2022 campaign in exchange for a 2022 third-round draft pick. He's one of seven quarterbacks Indianapolis has started since Andrew Luck announced his retirement in 2019.
The Colts hoped Ryan would help the franchise turn things around. When asked by Beisner-Buck what he saw in the former Falcon to make him believe he was the answer the team needed, Irsay responded:
"I think we went on the odyssey of Rivers, Wentz and now Ryan this year, and you try to fill this massive void. With Matt, he's such an outstanding man, such an outstanding leader. One of the greatest leaders I've ever been around. He's given us everything he has."
Ryan has been anything but the answer for Indianapolis.
In his first seven starts, the 37-year-old completed 68.4 percent of his passes for 2,008 yards and nine touchdowns against nine interceptions. The Colts went 3-3-1 in that span, and Ryan was eventually benched.
Reich was fired after a Week 9 loss to the New England Patriots, and Ryan returned to the Colts' starting lineup in Week 10. Since resuming his starting role, the veteran has completed 64.6 percent of his passes for 1,049 yards and five touchdowns against four interceptions, leading the Colts to a 1-4 record.
Ryan will become an unrestricted free agent after the 2023 campaign, but it's unclear if the Colts will keep him on board next season. If the team cuts Ryan, it will save $17.2 million in 2023, according to Spotrac, though it will also have to eat $18 million in dead cap.
Regardless, the Colts' seemingly never-ending search for a new franchise quarterback will continue, though they could select a new signal-caller in the 2023 NFL draft.