After a pursuit of Deshaun Watson that ultimately turned out to be fruitless, Ryan, who will be 37 in two weeks, asked for a trade from the Falcons in the fallout of their attempt to replace him. On “The Ryen Russillo Podcast,” Ryan explained why he would probably still be a Falcon if the Watson situation hadn’t unfolded as it did.
Even as the situation unfolded, however, Ryan said he was experiencing uncertainty.“And as that week went on, and I just kind of looked into — on my end — what might be the best possible landing spot, or what was best for myself and my family moving forward,” he continued. “As we did that research, to me, it became [Indianapolis].”
This will be the Colts’ third straight season turning to a veteran quarterback, but Ryan’s situation is slightly different. He’s more established and consistent than Carson Wentz and he ostensibly has more left in the tank than Philip Rivers. Owner Jim Irsay fancies the Colts a contender, and they selected wide receiver Alec Pierce in the second round of the NFL Draft to support Ryan.
“I like [Pierce] on the outside. I think he’ll move around, and we’ll see how much he’ll play. He’ll compete but as you guys know, it’s play by play. We’re going to move the guys around multiple positions,” coach Frank Reich said after the draft on Pierce, per USA Today. If Pierce can complement Michael Pittman in an offense that will be designed around Jonathan Taylor anyway, the Colts could find the consistency they’ve been seeking under Ryan.
For Ryan’s part, this wasn’t the way he anticipated his tenure in Atlanta ending.
“Um, you know, had none of this gone down, there’s probably a chance,” Ryan said after he was asked if he’d still be with the Falcons without the Watson pursuit. “A pretty good chance. But it did, you know, and so when it does, when the situation is changed, when the circumstances change, you know, I had always thought — like everybody — when you’re drafted there and you play there, this is where I’m going to play my entire career.”
Last year was the first time in 10 seasons Ryan didn’t break 4,000 yards passing, and it was his first year without Julio Jones while Calvin Ridley played in just five games. He was 32 yards off 4,000 with 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. With the Colts, he’ll have to work on his turnover ratio, but their offense should allow for that.
“I feel like I can still play at a high level. My body feels as good as it ever has,” Ryan said. “You know, I think there’s reasons for that. I think the rule changes have helped guys like myself … The way they protect the quarterback is certainly better than what it was early in all of our careers. I also think, you know, I’ve done a good job of taking care of myself. I’ve been lucky to not have had any real major shoulder or back or neck injuries, which can derail you a little bit. So, I feel like there’s still a lot of football in front of me, and a lot of really good football in front of me.”
That will have to be the case in Indianapolis, a team that has been building but has been missing that key cog. If Ryan proves that he is that missing gear, the AFC South is wide open heading into 2022.