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Indianapolis Colts

Colts 2022 Position Recap: Quarterbacks

The Colts changed starting quarterbacks four times during the 2022 season but did not get the results they hoped for, finishing with the NFL's second-lowest points per game average. 

Matt Ryan

2022 Depth Chart

  • Matt Ryan: 12 starts, 309/461 (67%), 3,057 yards, 14 TDs, 13 INTs, 83.9 passer rating
  • Sam Ehlinger: 3 starts, 54/101 (63.4%), 573 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs, 76.1 passer rating
  • Nick Foles: 2 starts, 25/42 (59.5%), 224 yards, 0 TDs, 4 INTs, 34.3 passer rating

3 Things To Know

  • The QB changes. The Colts changed starting quarterbacks four times during the regular season, going from Ryan to Ehlinger in Week 8; from Ehlinger to Ryan in Week 10; from Ryan to Foles in Week 16; and from Foles to Ehlinger in Week 18. None of those changes resulted in long-lasting offensive success, and the Colts finished 2022 with the NFL's second-lowest yards per pass average (5.7) and second-lowest points per game average (17). "It was a tough year," Ryan said. "Personally, for the team, I think all of us, it was hard and disappointing. I think we came into the season with high expectations, just didn't work out the way we thought it would."
  • What's next for Ryan and Foles. Both veteran quarterbacks are under contract with the Colts for 2023, and Ryan said the day after the season ended: "I still love playing and I think obviously, not committed to anything. Here, wherever, I have to see how it shakes out but I still love playing and still feel like honestly, I still feel like there's a lot of good football in my body." As for Foles, he was open about how he signed with the Colts last year to play for former head coach Frank Reich and to back up Ryan. While not all of the Colts' offensive issues were on their quarterbacks, after a 4-12-1 season – and a different Week 1 starting quarterback for the fifth consecutive season – general manager Chris Ballard indicated he'll seek a long-term solution at quarterback this offseason. "When you're changing quarterbacks every year it's tough," Ballard said. "It's tough on everybody. It's tough on the team. Not getting that position settled has a little something to do with it, and that's no indictment on any of the quarterbacks that we have."
  • Looking back at Sam Ehlinger's season. At the urging of Ballard, Ehlinger began working with quarterback guru Tom House last spring, with one of the goals to increase the 2021 sixth round pick's arm strength. Ehlinger said it would be a two-year process, but there were already positive signs that process was working in some of the deep shots he took over his three starts. More than anything, though, Ehlinger saw his starts as being highly beneficial to his growth as he heads into Year 3 in the NFL. "It accelerates the mental aspect of being able to anticipate and understand what the speed of the game looks like," Ehlinger said. "It doesn't expedite anything physically that I will continue to work on in the offseason. Reps are invaluable so I'll be able to draw on these reps moving forward with that experience to have a taste of what real ball looks like versus just preseason."

1 Big Stat

Colts quarterbacks were not able to consistently push the ball downfield throughout the season, leading to the team having the second-lowest average depth of target (7.0 yards beyond the line of scrimmage) per pass in the NFL in 2022.

But the other teams in the Colts' range – the Giants, Chargers, Cardinals and 49ers all had an average depth of target below 7.5 yards – were able to generate more than half their passing yardage after the catch. 47.8 percent of the Colts' passing yards came after the catch, which was more in line with offenses that attacked downfield more frequently (the Philadelphia Eagles had a YAC rate of 48 percent but an average depth of target of 9.1 yards, for example).

It's hard to isolate this issue, though, since even attempting a deep pass requires the right look from a defense and all 11 players executing their assignments. And it's not like opposing defenses were loading the box because the Colts weren't able to get to those deep balls – only the Los Angeles Rams faced fewer loaded boxes (8+ defenders) than the Colts (144 plays out of 1,148 total plays).

Still, defenses were able to play aggressively against the Colts without a consistent threat of being beat over the top, even if they weren't dropping an extra defender in the box to stop the run. We'll see what the Colts focus on to fix this issue heading into 2023 – whether it's with more of an offensive emphasis on pushing the ball downfield, or scheming an offense oriented around generating yards after the catch.

A look back at the Colts quarterback position through photos from the 2022 season.

What's Next

The Colts have the No. 4 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft – "we earned that," general manager Chris Ballard quipped after the season – and could have an opportunity to use it on a young quarterback. But there are no absolutes in the NFL, and more important than drafting a young quarterback is drafting the right young quarterback.

"We can take one as an organization and y'all are going to celebrate it and say, 'We have got the savior for the Colts.' And then if he doesn't play well, 'Why did you take that guy?'" Ballard said. "You've got to be right. We've got to be right. We understand the magnitude of where we're at in the draft and we understand the importance of the position. To get one that actually you can win with and to be right is the most important thing. Not, if we take one or not – being right."

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