Matt Ryan stood at his locker Wednesday afternoon not as the Colts' starting quarterback, but as a guy facing a new mission.
Ryan, the 14-year veteran quarterback who's thrown for more yards than all but six players in NFL history, is of course "individually and personally disappointed," he said, to no longer be the Colts' starter. But his professionalism shined during a press conference on Wednesday, where he made clear what his goal will be: Help the Colts win however he can.
"As a player, as a competitor, you want to be be out there, you want to go," Ryan said. "It's part of the deal in this league, you got to produce and you gotta go out there and play. Frustrated that we weren't able to do that in the first seven games. You move forward. Life in this league is week to week and production has to be there. Obviously disappointed personally, but here for the team."
Part of Ryan's focus is on getting his right (throwing) shoulder recovered from a Grade 2 separation sustained in the Colts' 19-10 Week 7 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. But he'll also be a resource for Sam Ehlinger to lean on as he prepares for his first NFL start Sunday against the Washington Commanders at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"I love Sam," Ryan said. "He's been awesome from the minute I got here. I just told him, any way I can help, you let me know. As a player you gotta go out there and cut it loose and go play your game. Everybody's individual game is different, go play yours and he'll do a good job for us.
"... My job this week is to help support Sam, get my shoulder right and help him any way that I can."
Ehlinger praised Ryan for the support he's already given the second-year quarterback from Texas.
"He's been unbelievable," Ehlinger said. "He's an absolute pro. He's a guy, he wants to be on the field and so there's frustration there, but he's been nothing but supportive — told me that he has my back regardless, whatever happens, so I couldn't be more thankful for him."
Ryan took accountability for his play, and while head coach Frank Reich emphasized these issues weren't solely the fault of the quarterback, Ryan's nine interceptions and 184 yards lost on sacks both lead the NFL entering Week 8. The Colts are 30th in points scored per game (16.1).
"Obviously it hasn't been the level of production we all would've wanted," Ryan said. "I would've liked to play a lot better too. We're still seven games into it and there's a long way to go, but I appreciate everybody taking ownership and I've tried to do that myself as well."
Sunday's matchup against the Commanders will only be the fourth game Ryan will have missed in his career. But he also understood that the team's brain trust had to make the right decision for the Colts, no matter how difficult it may be.
And now Ryan, who's been lauded before and after Monday's news as a steadfast professional, will still look to make a positive impact on the Colts however he can.
"It's new. It's not something that I've dealt with during my career," Ryan said. "But I've been around a long time and see that it happens, and so I've always preached that you've got to accept and embrace the role that they decide for you and try to be the best in that role that you be. And that's what I'll do."