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INDIANAPOLIS – “A breath of fresh air” is how Indianapolis Colts coordinator Marcus Brady described having veteran offensive quarterback Matt Ryan as the team’s new starter. Brady referred to having another voice outside of just the coaching staff during the team’s off-season training.
For some, the fresh breath could also have meant that Carson Wentz’s short stay was officially over, as Ryan now throws passes and works with his teammates during training.
“You feel him in this building,” Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said of Ryan.
Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner said Ryan reminds him of former teammate Philip Rivers, another veteran who spent most of his career with a team – the Chargers – before ending it with the Colts in 2020.
A presence as a quarterback is exactly what the Colts need. The type of presence that carries respect from the coaches, inside the locker room with his teammates and on the football field.
That’s what Ryan has brought with him since being acquired by the Atlanta Falcons in March.
“I can not even tell you how refreshing he is. [He has a] very strong opinion, but also very engaging, but very humble, just like very humble, ”said Colts coach Frank Reich. “Very humble, but very strong. It’s just good. It’s a really good dynamic, very professional in every way. It’s just a collaboration, but he also understands that he comes in and learns a new offense, and it feels he right now, he feels it. ”
The Colts, who have sought stability as a quarterback since Andrew Luck’s retirement nearly three years ago, do not view Ryan’s stay in Indianapolis as a quick stay. Owner Jim Irsay said over the draft weekend that he would like Ryan, who turns 37 on May 17, to be the quarterback for the team for the next three, possibly four, seasons.
Offseason training is still in its infancy. The passes Ryan throws to his receivers are routes to the air. Time will tell whether things will run just as smoothly going forward, for remember there was the same kind of mood at this point last year with Wentz.
“I can not say enough about Matt Ryan,” Irsay said. “There’s no way I can sit here and explain to you unless you look [general manager] Chris [Ballard] and Frank and different people in the eyes of this organization, and see the difference that’s going on right now because Matt Ryan is in this building. His professionalism, his stature, which is still 36 and coming in here, and we are really lucky. “
Ryan’s experience will be needed because the Colts have a young reception room. Of the recipients currently on the list, only one – 25-year-old Keke Coutee – is over 24. And while the front office and coaching staff believe in the young group, especially since the Colts have not yet signed an outside free agent on the position, there may be some tough moments.
That means patience becomes a necessity for Ryan.
“These guys are definitely young, but their attitude, their energy, their sense of professionalism for young players is really good and I’ve been impressed with them,” Ryan said. “… I think as a veteran player that there is a level of patience that needs to keep up and it’s a slow, careful approach to trying to improve, but I think [Ballard] does a great job here of trying to get the right people into the building. From my short time here, I get that feeling from the guys. ”
This is not the first time Ryan has worked with a group of young recipients. Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts were all rookies who caught passes from Ryan at various times during his 14-year career with the Falcons.
But the Colts do not have a Jones, Ridley or Pitts, all previous first-round draft picks, on their list. Michael Pittman Jr., who had 1,082 yards last season, is the closest Indianapolis is at that talent level.
Former Falcons receiver Roddy White taught Ryan about patience early in the quarterback’s career with Atlanta, after Ryan came in with a demanding personality. That moment has stuck with Ryan over the years, and it’s something that will help him when the inevitable bumps come for the Colts’ young receivers next season.
“I think the way the league is set up now, whether you are in the same building or a new team or not, there is so much transition, there are so many player transactions taking place, so much fluid in the roster that you constantly get guys to get in and out of the building, “Ryan said. “You can not have a reasonable expectation that they will know the system as well as you, and you have to be really good with your communication and understanding, and patient with sometimes just the amount of volume you give guys.
“I think sometimes you see a certain skill and you say he can do all these things. But he will not do any of them well if you overload them … It’s finding the balance and Do not try to, you know, overload them mentally so that their physical skills do not show up. “