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3 takeaways from Matt Ryan’s mixed performance vs Philadelphia

Chris Phillips

The Indianapolis Colts took another loss on Sunday. Coincidentally, another 17-16 home loss to an NFC East team where the Colts had a two-score lead and just couldn’t close out the game. “Couldn’t close out the game”, sounds familiar. This has been a familiar theme dating back to last season.

Anyways, moving on to this game and specifically the performance of starting quarterback Matt Ryan. This was not a high-flying scoring affair. It was much more of an old-school type of battle. Featuring a lot of running the ball and playing defense. Unfortunately for the Colts, their highly-paid offensive line’s play got worse as the game went on, costing them a victory.

Matt Ryan was asked to play hero after being hidden

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Indianapolis Colts
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan was not asked to do a lot for the first half of the game. His main job was to keep the offense on time. The Colts’ offense was executing well and getting some chunk plays against Philadelphia. The offense line was winning the battle more often than not, and Jonathan Taylor was able to do his thing. 

This all led to the first opening series score since Christmas of last year. So the team got off to a good start. Ryan attempted 15 passes in the first half, and of those 15, eight of them were in obvious passing situations. Either the offense was behind schedule, or they were in their hurry-up offense trying to get some points before the end of the half.

Related: 4 instant reactions to the Indianapolis Colts’ loss to Philadelphia

Playing a clean game

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
Armond Feffer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

For the game, Ryan went 23-of-32 for 213 scoreless yards. He was sacked four times and hit eight times. Subsequently, as the game went on, the play of the offensive line went south for the winter. However, this game was only the third time this season that Ryan didn’t turn the ball over.

It’s great that Ryan didn’t turn the ball over in this game. Considering he leads the NFL with 20 combined turnovers. Josh Allen is second with 18. However, the fact this is only the third time this season Ryan avoided turnovers speaks to how bad his play has been. And it’s certainly not something you’d expect from a 15-year veteran. If he was a rookie, it’d be a little bit more acceptable. 

Signs of Father Time winning the battle

This game marked the first time where there were signs that Ryan’s age was showing. He’s 37 years old, so not that old in the grand scheme of things but very old for the NFL. Now, it should be noted that he did miss two games because of a shoulder injury (despite what the former head coach said). 

So, it’s possible he’s not fully healthy, and that is why his performance in this game looked so bad. There were multiple times in the game when he was late with his throws or just didn’t have the velocity to get the ball to his receivers quickly enough. It’s a good thing Michael Pittman Jr is a big tough man because lately, he has been getting hung out to dry on some receptions.

It’s only a matter of time before those hits start to take a toll on him. Getting back to Ryan and his battle with Father Time. Looking at advanced analytics, this season is the worst for Ryan. 

  • Intended air yards per pass attempt – 5.8
  • Completed air yards per pass attempt – 3.6
  • Completed air yards per completion – 5.2

For comparison, Phillip Rivers’ last season, which drew some criticism for not being able to push the ball downfield, was about the same except for intended air yards per pass attempt.

  • Intended air yards per pass attempt – 7.2
  • Completed air yards per pass attempt – 3.6
  • Completed air yards per completion – 5.3

Yet, the overall performance of the two teams is vastly different. The Colts could end up being in a similar situation again. Where at the end of the season Ryan decides to hang up his cleats, and the team is left looking for a starting quarterback.

The Colts take on Pittsburgh next on the road. Pittsburgh is playing their rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett. So hopefully, the defense can force some more turnovers. And hopefully, Ryan and the Colts’ offense can cash those in for touchdowns instead of field goals. We just saw what happens when the opponent scores more touchdowns than the Colts, and it’s not pretty.

Related: NFL Power Rankings Week 12: Eagles and Cowboys soar, Vikings and Jets crash