Colts’ Matt Ryan among QBs ‘most likely to improve’ in 2022

PFF expects a bounce-back year for Matty Ice.

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Matt Ryan will be the fifth different starting quarterback under center for the Indianapolis Colts in as many years, and both sides are hoping for a fresh start.

As the Colts hope to end the cycle of starting quarterbacks taking over, Ryan is hoping to revive his career over the final few years he has left. The 37-year-old didn’t have the strongest campaign in 2021, but the expectation is that he bounces back with his new team.

In the eyes of Conor McQuiston of Pro Football Focus, Ryan is among the quarterbacks “most likely to improve” during the 2022 season.

The model is optimistic about Ryan, which is almost entirely based on the improvement in surroundings in Indianapolis compared to Atlanta in 2021. There is room to argue that, considering the much better offensive line, Ryan’s pre-2021 results and Michael Pittman Jr., the model is underselling Ryan’s potential 2022 outcomes and he should be on par w Tua and Hurts.

Ryan is entering an offense that should cater to his abilities. His quick release and pre-snap diagnoses blend perfectly with what Frank Reich wants to do on the offensive side of the ball. Ryan’s ability to set up his receivers after the catch is also a huge aspect that should return to the passing game in 2022.

The Colts don’t need Ryan to be in his 2016 MVP form. Of course, that would be welcomed. But the Colts know they can control the game with their rushing attack and offensive line while taking shots down the field against favorable looks with their speedy receivers.

Ryan dealt with a porous supporting cast and a first-year head coach during the 2021 season in Atlanta. What the Colts have established already should lead to a smooth transition for the veteran while giving him the opportunity to regress toward the mean of his career.


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PFF is not bullish on the Colts’ secondary

PFF placed Indy’s secondary in the ‘serious flaws’ tier.

The Indianapolis Colts secondary has gone through some big changes over the course of the offseason, and Pro Football Focus doesn’t seem too bullish on the current makeup of the room.

While the unit did add five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore on a two-year deal, Pro Football Focus has the Colts secondary ranked 23rd in the NFL while leading the tier labeled “Serious Flaws.”

23. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
CB: Stephon Gilmore
CB: Isaiah Rodgers
NCB: Kenny Moore II
S: Rodney McLeod
S: Julian Blackmon

Before the Stephon Gilmore signing, this unit was trending toward uncertainty. Gilmore was still very much an elite cornerback when healthy last season, although it wasn’t widely talked about because he was doing it on a hapless Panthers team. He finished with the ninth-highest coverage grade in the NFL.

The signing of Gilmore really boosts this unit’s stock, and he’ll need to stay healthy in order for the group to reach its ceiling. Isaiah Rodgers is one of the most underrated cornerbacks in the league and appears on his way toward a breakout campaign.

Meanwhile, we are still waiting on an update about Kenny Moore’s contract situation. If the Colts stand pat on the deal he currently has, there is a chance Moore is advised to hold out of training camp. We probably won’t know much until closer to training camp.

The safety room took a pretty big hit this offseason when starter Khari Willis surprisingly retired. They are likely to rely on veteran Rodney McLeod to fill the void while rookie Nick Cross waits in the wings to be the starter.

The Colts secondary will be tested plenty against a strong group of wide receivers in 2022, but there is still plenty of upside in both the cornerback and safety rooms entering the new season.


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Parris Campbell a ‘surprise standout’ at Colts minicamp

Parris Campbell stood out in a big way during minicamp.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell enters a pivotal season of his career, and he’s doing everything he can to get it going in the right direction.

While his performance when on the field isn’t really the question—it’s staying on the field that is—Campbell was listed as a “surprise standout” during minicamp by ESPN’s Mike Wells.

Maybe, just maybe, 2022 is the season Campbell can stay healthy. He spent a good portion of offseason workouts working with the first unit, starting opposite of Michael Pittman Jr. as the second receiver while looking comfortable with quarterback Matt Ryan. The key for Campbell — as it has been since he was drafted in 2019 — is staying healthy. He has played 15 out of a possible 49 games in the first three seasons of his NFL career. If healthy, the Colts can use Campbell in a number of different ways, including in the slot and in motion.

Campbell’s skill set is still perfect for Frank Reich’s offensive system. He has breakaway speed and the vision of a running back with the ball in his hands. his ability to create offense after the catch is something the Colts need more of from the passing game.

Campbell will be competing with rookie wide receiver Alec Pierce for the No. 2 role in the wide receiver room. Pierce was selected in the second round of the 2022 NFL draft and projects favorably to be the starting Z receiver in 11 personnel.

Entering a contract year, Campbell has a lot to prove. He’s gotten off on the right foot thus far and will be looking to carry that momentum into training camp, the preseason, and, eventually, the regular season.


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Stephon Gilmore listed as a bargain for the Colts

CBS Sports feels the Colts got a bargain with Stephon Gilmore.

The Indianapolis Colts added a big name in free agency this offseason when cornerback Stephon Gilmore signed a two-year deal.

The signing of Gilmore came at the right time, just a few weeks after the Colts traded away Rock Ya-Sin in the deal to acquire defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.

Signing Gilmore to a two-year, $20 million deal is a bargain in the eyes of CBS Sports.

Top average earner: Jaire Alexander (Packers), $21M per year
Top 2022 earner: Jalen Ramsey (Rams), $23.2M

Stephon Gilmore (Colts)
Average annual earnings: $10M per year | 2022 cost: $7.75M

Gilmore wasn’t quite an elite cover man for the extent of his Panthers reunion in 2021, but the former Bills and Patriots star remains a low-risk, high-reward bet for a Colts defense ready to contend. As a short-term starter, you can do a lot worse. Shaquill Griffin, William Jackson III, Ronald Darby and Adoree’ Jackson will all make more in 2022.

Gilmore will step right into the starting role on the boundary while Kenny Moore II (barring a contract holdout) will work opposite him in personnel packages that feature only two cornerbacks.

Gilmore dealt with some injuries during the 2021 season, but the Colts feel he’s moved on from those ailments and will help build a better secondary for the 2022 campaign.


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Braden Smith has been excelling in run blocking

Colts RT has been one of the best run blockers for years.

Indianapolis Colts right tackle Braden Smith has been one of the best run-blockers at his position for a few years now.

Despite being drafted as a guard, Smith’s switch to right tackle early during his rookie campaign has turned out to be a fantastic move. He earned a massive payday before the 2021 season and has proven to be one of the best all-around right tackles.

According to Pro Football Focus, Smith has graded out as the third-highest run-blocking right tackle in the NFL since 2019.

Smith’s elite movement skills and high-powered motor contribute to his elite run blocking. Even though his arms are listed on the shorter end of the spectrum, he’s used his mobility and hand placement perfectly to make up for it.

Smith is entering his fifth season locked in as the starting right tackle where he looks to continue ascending up the list of starters throughout the league.


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Can Jonathan Taylor break the single-season scrimmage yards record?

Can Jonathan Taylor make history in 2022?

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor led the entire NFL in scrimmage yards during the 2021 season, and now some are wondering if he can set a new record.

While Chris Johnson’s record 2,509 scrimmage yards in 2009 still stands strong, Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox believes Taylor has what it takes to come close.

While we probably won’t see the rushing touchdowns record broken in 2022, backs like Indianapolis Colts star Taylor could still chase history.

Chris Johnson set the single-season record for scrimmage yards back in 2009 and remains the only player in league history to top 2,500 scrimmage yards in a season.

Others have come close, though, including Taylor. Last year, the Colts’ bell-cow tallied 2,171 scrimmage yards during a breakout campaign. He’ll need to average 20 more yards per game and stay healthy for 17 games to break Johnson’s record, but that could happen.

The arrival of quarterback Matt Ryan in Indy could help boost Taylor’s passing numbers while preventing defenses from keying in quite as much on the run. Ryan might be 37 years old, but he’s a more reliable passer than what the Colts got from Carson Wentz last season.

Knox also mentioned Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry, New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara and Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook as potential threats for the record as well.

Taylor would need a whole lot to go his way in order to break that record. The Colts would have to be on the field for an extremely high number of plays while Taylor himself would have to be even more efficient than he was in 2021, which is incredibly hard to do.

Taylor would need to average 147.6 total yards per game over a 17-game season in order to beat the record. Not impossible. But an extremely tough task.

Never say never when it comes to a talent like Taylor’s but a lot of things would have to go right for this record to be broken.


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Colts front office ranked outside top-10 by PFN

Pro Football Network ranked the Colts front office outside the top 10.

The Indianapolis Colts front office was ranked just outside the top-10 by Pro Football Network entering the 2022 season.

As general manager Chris Ballard looks to find his way into the playoffs for the third time during his tenure, they will be leaning on veteran quarterback Matt Ryan.

In their rankings, Pro Football Network placed the Colts at No. 11 on the list:

General manager: Chris Ballard

Ballard has drafted All-Pro talent in running back Jonathan Taylor, guard Quenton Nelson, and linebacker Darius Leonard, and he’s filled in other positions of need via low-cost signings. This offseason, the Colts somehow managed to swap out Carson Wentz for Matt Ryan while netting a move up in the second round of the 2022 draft and a conditional 2023 third-rounder. If anything, Ballard will need to be more aggressive in free agency to maximize the last few years of Ryan’s career.

While Ballard was the one who made the decision to trade for Carson Wentz, he corrected it mostly by getting a solid haul back and then turning around and making a deal for the aforementioned Ryan.

Ballard is unlikely to change his approach to free agency. One of the aspects he makes clear is the fact that they won’t be over-aggressive just for the sake of being aggressive.

The Colts have a solid shot at making the playoffs in 2022 if all goes according to plan, and it would certainly be welcomed after the late-season collapse that kept them out of the postseason last year.


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Colts’ Kylen Granson attended Tight End U

Kylen Granson joined Mo Alie-Cox at Tight End U this week.

The Indianapolis Colts were well represented at the Tight End University Summit held by Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle and NFL commentator Greg Olsen.

While we knew that Mo Alie-Cox was headed to Nashville for this year’s summit, we also found out that second-year tight end Kylen Granson joined him for the three-day camp.

Alie-Cox and Granson were among over 20 tight ends to attend Tight End University this week in Nashville. Both players are primed for bigger roles in the offense after the retirement of Jack Doyle.

As Alie-Cox steps into the starting Y position, Granson will be working more as the F tight end in the offense. The latter will be looking to fend off rookie Jelani Woods, who presents clear upside given his elite athleticism.

Hopefully, the week of working with some elite tight ends will help Alie-Cox and Granson grow their games because the tight end position will need to be a strong component of the passing game with Matt Ryan taking over.


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Colts’ Matt Ryan, Michael Pittman Jr. named third-best new QB-WR duo

Matty Ice and MPJ are among the best new QB-WR duos in the NFL.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. haven’t bene working together for very long, but it’s clear the chemistry is already building between them.

As Ryan focuses on a fresh start for the final years of his career, he will have one of the top emerging talents leading the passing game as Pittman Jr. enters his third season following a strong breakout campaign in 2021.

While there will still be some kinks to work out during training camp, they were ranked by NFL.com’s Kevin Patra as the third-best new quarterback/wide receiver duo in the league.

The Colts continue to shuffle through QBs, with Matt Ryan representing the fifth starter since Frank Reich became the head coach in 2018. The former NFL MVP isn’t what he once was and is coming off his first sub-4,000-yard season since 2010, but he can still put the ball on the money and isn’t afraid to stand in under pressure.

Last season, the Colts didn’t trust Carson Wentz down the stretch, leading to a regular-season collapse as the signal-caller threw for fewer than 200 yards in six of the final eight weeks. There should be no such concerns with Ryan.

The 37-year-old might have broken his streak of 10 straight seasons with 4,000 yards (second-longest all-time behind only Drew Brees) but it wasn’t by much, netting 3,968 yards last year on a Falcons team in shambles by the end of the season. He still completed 67 percent of his passes despite a decimated receiver corps behind Russell Gage.

Now he pairs up with Michael Pittman Jr., one of the burgeoning young receivers in the NFL. In his breakout sophomore season, Pittman proved he could win one-on-one matchups and beat double teams. Despite the Colts’ pass-game struggles, Pittman generated 1,082 yards on 88 catches with six TDs. No other Colts pass catcher even hit the 400-yard mark. It was Pittman or bust.

If he can produce with Wentz, imagine what he can do with Ryan.

The duos ranked ahead of Ryan and Pittman Jr. were Las Vegas Raiders’ Derek Carr and Davante Adams and Denver Broncos’ Russell Wilson and Jerry Jeudy.

Pittman Jr. enjoyed a strong breakout campaign taking 88 receptions for 1,082 yards and six touchdowns on a 25.7% target share. Even if Parris Campbell stays healthy and Alec Pierce emerges as a strong option in the passing game, nothing suggests that Pittman Jr. can’t hit that target share again.

The Colts are expecting to see more stability in the passing game with Ryan now under center, and he’ll be leaning on his top target plenty during the 2022 season.


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Arch Manning commits to Texas

Arch Manning commits to Texas.

Arch Manning, nephew of Indianapolis Colts legend Peyton Manning, is committing to play football for the University of Texas.

Widely considered the No. 1 prospect of the 2023 class, Manning announced his commitment Thursday via Twitter.

Manning is entering his senior season at Isidore Newman High School in Louisiana. According to 247Sports, Manning also strongly considered Alabama and Georgia.


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