If you were looking for in-depth film breakdown, or one of the other articles I write, you’ve arrived at the wrong article. Welcome to the newest Conspiracy Report where I, Chris Shepherd, will examine a nefarious plot and expose it for what it is. Now sure, I won’t be able to provide you any “proof” and no, I don’t have any sources (that you know of). What follows should be treated purely as entertainment that includes plausible (and not so plausible) scenarios that no one employed by NFL teams would ever admit to, and I accept no responsibility for anything you do with the information I’m about to give you. In fact, I accept no responsibility for anything you’re about to read.
Question: Why did the Indianapolis Colts actually bench Matt Ryan?
At face value, the answers to this question seem simple. There are a multitude of reasons why they might make this move; 1. To see what Sam Ehlinger has. 2. To lose more games to get a better draft pick to be in a position to select a quarterback and get off of the yearly QB-hunt cycle the Colts have been on since Andrew Luck walked away. 3. To keep Matt Ryan healthy so that a large portion of his contract isn’t guaranteed for injury next season. 4. It’s possible that the only quarterback that could have any success behind the current Colts offensive line is one who can scramble like Sam Ehlinger.
Sure, those all might make sense, but what if there was something else? What if there was another reason? What if Jim Irsay made the decision to bench Matt Ryan so that Frank Reich could win it all in 2022? Let’s take a look at the evidence.
Clue #1: The Offensive Line Is Terrible
The Colts threw Matt Ryan out behind a bad offensive line and after seven games they have gotten Ryan hurt. In his 15-year career he has only missed three games and the Colts got him seriously hurt in just seven games. Do they really think anyone else is going to be able to stay healthy behind the line in its current state? The NFL changed concussion protocols earlier this year in response to the Tua Tagovailoa situation, do we really expect Sam Ehlinger not to run head first into defensive ends 4-5 times a game? We’re all just going to blindly believe the Colts expect Sam Ehlinger to go out there, stand in the pocket, get brutally beaten for the remainder of the season and not get hurt?
Now, I’m not saying the Colts are sending Ehlinger out there so that he will get hurt. But if he does get hurt, what happens? Who are they sending out there? You think they’re going to play Nick Foles over Matt Ryan? Really? I don’t believe that for a second. But I do believe they’ve had this conversation. If and when Ehlinger gets hurt, watch who comes into the game.
Clue #2: Matt Ryan Is Injured. Why Announce Ehlinger The Full Time Starter Now?
Skeptics will say that the Colts announced him the starter now so that if Ehlinger struggles, there won’t be any questioning how they could continue to start the second year player over Matt Ryan. And sure, that sounds good, but if they’re just going to play Ehlinger for the rest of the season either way, it doesn’t matter when they announce the move. The only thing announcing him as the starter now really does is move Sam Ehlinger to QB1 and Matt Ryan to QB2 on the depth chart.
Clue #3: The Colts Know The Defense Is Too Good To Lose A Lot Of Games
The Colts defense has been really good in all but their week six win over Jacksonville. Single-handedly the defensive unit has kept the Colts offense in games and kept them in each contest (save for the first Jags game) until the fourth quarter. Given that the defense is so good, there is a very real chance a Sam Ehlinger-led team will win just enough games to win a very bad AFC South. The Titans aren’t good - which I know is rich coming from a guy who writes about a team they’ve beaten twice this year, I know. But really, they’re not. The Colts are just worse. But the Titans second-half schedule is absolutely brutal and the AFC South might produce the first division winner to finish 7-10 (or 7-9-1 as it were). Reich, Ballard and Irsay all know the defense is good and the division is bad.
Clue #4: The Only Way Matt Ryan Stays Healthy Is If Sam Ehlinger Takes Hits For Him
It doesn’t matter who you put behind the Colts line, they’re going to eventually get hurt. We more or less covered that. But given the fact that the Colts defense is going to keep them in those games and the AFC South is so bad, if there is any hope to have Matt Ryan healthy for a playoff run, someone has to take the regular season hits for him and Sam Ehlinger is just the guy to do it.
Clue #5: Frank Reich Only Wins Super Bowls With A Backup Quarterback
This point works for me either way but as a paid, under contract player or coach, Frank Reich has been to six total Super Bowls and has only won, one. In 2017 with the Philadelphia Eagles, Reich helped guide backup quarterback Nick Foles to a Super Bowl championship after starting quarterback Carson Wentz was lost for the year with a torn ACL in week 14. For whatever mystical reason, Frank Reich needs a backup quarterback to play if he wants to win a Super Bowl and Jim Irsay is a big believer in mysticism.
Theory: The Indianapolis Colts have benched Matt Ryan because it was the only way they could guarantee a Super Bowl victory in 2022.
The Colts need Matt Ryan if they want to win in the playoffs, that much is clear. But Frank Reich can’t win it all unless he’s coaching the backup. And the offensive line can’t keep a QB healthy. And Sam Ehlinger’s young and full of energy and the ability to take hits just long enough for Matt Ryan to recover and get fresh for January. And the path to the AFC South Championship is wide open considering the strength of the defense and how much all four teams suck.
So, when you really break it down, it’s pretty obvious. The Indianapolis Colts are going to win Super Bowl 57 with backup quarterback Matt Ryan.