Ryan eager for a fresh start at Indy after 14 seasons in Atlanta – 95.5 WSB
Matt Ryan was ready for a change and Indianapolis seemed like the perfect place to win a title.
The 14-year-old NFL veteran and 2016 league MVP left Atlanta and arrived at his new team compound on Tuesday, hoping to become the third straight veteran quarterback to win a Super Bowl in his first season with a new team.
“Yeah, it looks really good what Matthew Stafford did at Los Angles last year, making that transition work so well, and what Tom (Brady) did, I saw first hand in the division the year before,” Ryan said. “Hopefully we can follow this trend and make it work for us.”
The Colts certainly believe he can after giving up a third-round pick, No. 82 overall, to acquire Ryan on Monday.
They’re also hoping the four-time Pro Bowler who led Atlanta to its second Super Bowl appearance after the 2016 season can stabilize a position that was in flux. Ryan is expected to become the sixth different Indy Opening Day starter in six years this fall.
Ryan has been down this road before.
In 2008, the 23-year-old Boston College rookie went to the Falcons in hopes of saving a franchise reeling from coach Bobby Petrino’s resignation after just 13 games and the jailing of quarterback Michael Vick for running a dogfight ring.
Ryan responded by leading Atlanta to the playoffs for the first time in four years, earning the nickname “Matty Ice” and becoming the best quarterback in franchise history. Sometimes it appeared Ryan and the Falcons could never part ways.
But the organization’s decision last week to publicly sue Deshaun Watson as Ryan’s replacement and the subsequent decision to rebuild has caused Ryan to rethink where he wanted to play. And after a Saturday night videoconference with Colts general manager Chris Ballard, coach Frank Reich, offensive coordinator Marcus Brady and others, Ryan was convinced it was time for a change.
“At first I didn’t know if we were going to be forced into a trade,” he said, explaining how Reich’s empathy for changing teams after a long career at one place played a key role. “At the end of the day, it came down to deciding whether to stay in Atlanta or come to Indianapolis. The time was right for me and I felt like I had to.”
He showed no regrets, thanking the Falcons for helping him become a model of consistency on the field, developing relationships he still cherishes and sharing so many memorable moments.
Now he joins a team with Super Bowl aspirations. The Colts lost in the wildcard round after the 2020 season and looked like a shoo-in to make the playoffs last season until losing their last two games.
Ryan likes Indy’s cast — a strong offensive line with three returning starters and capable inside backups for another spot, NFL running champion Jonathan Taylor, emerging receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and a solid defense that added veteran setter Yannick Ngakoue last week.
And the Colts believe Ryan is the missing piece.
“We got our guy!!!,” Pittman posted on Twitter in all caps after Monday’s announcement.
Indy has also gone down this route since Andrew Luck abruptly announced his retirement in 2019.
Two years ago they signed veteran Philip Rivers who had a strong season in his only year with the Colts. He retired in January 2021. Last March, Indy acquired Carson Wentz in a deal with Philadelphia with the belief that he could become their long-term franchise quarterback. Instead, he was sent to Washington two weeks ago.
The biggest question surrounding Ryan, 36, is how much longer will he play with two years remaining on his current contract?
“It’s funny, I played in a division where it was Tom Brady, Drew Brees and me at one point and I was around 35,” he said. feel good.’ I really do. My body feels really good. I feel like I put myself in a place where I know how to train. But I feel good. I don’t feel like an old man.
The Colts also don’t see an old man. Instead, they see someone who can accomplish something only Peyton Manning has and bring the Lombardi Trophy to Indianapolis.
“I texted some of the guys yesterday and every one of their text messages, their first one was about winning. It’s really unique,” Ryan said before donning his familiar number 2, only in blue and white. “I realize that I’m part of this wheel and have to do my job and pull my weight, but it’s a pretty solid wheel.”
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