While Matt Ryan changed teams for the first time as a pro in 2022, the veteran quarterback has plenty of experience changing offense schemes. It's not like he had the same head coach and offensive coordinator the 14 years he spent with the Falcons; Ryan played under three head coaches and five different offensive coordinators in Atlanta.
So upon arriving in Indianapolis, Ryan already had a good idea of how to go about making the transition to a new offensive scheme – a process that's underway as the Colts began Phase One of their offseason program this week at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"You have to learn what's important and what doesn't matter," Ryan said. "Some of the stuff they might keep harping on, coaches in certain ways — like, yeah, know know, that's fine. It doesn't really matter.
"We got to get to the nuts and bolts of this, we got to hammer out protections, we need to know inside and out how we're doing our protections. We need to understand progressions, reads, checks, those kid of things.
"We'll learn, I might have called this a dagger route, you might call it a Dover route, you might call it an in-cut. We'll learn, we'll get in the same language in time, but making sure we know exactly what we're expected to do with protections, progressions and checks. And being on the same page on that, to me, is where we have to start."
Colts head coach Frank Reich, of course, has years of experience when it comes to morphing an offense with new quarterback. From taking over a first-year head coach with Andrew Luck in 2018 to shifting things on the fly for Jacoby Brissett in 2019, and then fitting scheme to quarterback and vice versa amid COVID-19 restrictions with Philip Rivers and Carson Wentz in 2020 and 2021, Reich – now with Ryan – has been challenged to adapt for five consecutive offseasons.
But Reich does not view the annual quarterback changes of the last half-decade as a burden; he said it's kept him and his coaching staff sharp in how they've had to continuously shift their offense over the last half-decade.
So since acquiring Ryan, Reich and his coaching staff have immersed themselves in what's made the 2016 MVP and four-time Pro Bowler successful over his 222 career starts, looking for things to implement in the Colts' offense while identifying areas of emphasis that may be different.
"I can already tell you, in three days, in three meetings, including (Wednesday), we've already changed – I'm just half joking, but we've already changed 10 percent," Reich said. "He has perspective. 'Hey, can we run that route this way? It's the same concept, but the way we might teach the one route within the concept, I've always liked to do it this way.'
"Most of the time the answer to those questions are, 'Absolutely, let's do it that way.' We see it on film, I look at him doing it on film, we like what it looks like, we like how It feels and those little changes in some ways, keep defenses – they can't lock into what we're going to do."
Reich lauded Ryan's approach as "engaging," "very humble," "very strong," and "very professional" as the quarterback and his new coaches began to put in work to build their 2022 offense this week. But all those qualities also apply to how Ryan is interacting with his new teammates.
Ryan has taken initiative in working out and throwing with Colts pass-catchers since his late March trade from the Falcons to Colts. Ironing out those little details on routes, concepts, language, etc. now will only help the Colts install their offense later, and then hone in on things during training camp and into the regular season.
"He just has a fresh perspective and when we talked about the parts of the offense, I'm excited for how he's going to help those young receivers," Reich said. "Every quarterback is an extended wide receiver coach. They have to be. They work with the receivers, their impact on the receivers is felt and I just think Matt has a particularly good perspective and a good way about him the way he's going to connect with those young receivers to help them take the next step."
As the Colts returned to 56th Street this week, they did so with a simmering sense of urgency. This is the first normal offseason program the Colts have had since 2019, and with another new quarterback in the building, there's no time to waste.
"We were just in there in a meeting and we're going through some stuff, calling plays and just getting used to the terminology to try and get ahead of it – like actually saying things," Reich said. "We don't wait. I don't want to wait until the season to do that. We start doing that now in meetings and so, there's certain things you can feel are new.
"And then there's, oh yeah, you can tell this guy has been around the block a few times. So, that's fun."
Colts players continued to put in offseason work in the weight room and indoor facility.