According to NBC Sports Peter King, in his 2022 NFL power rankings, the Indianapolis Colts will fall short of the playoffs again—in what will be a consecutive disappointing campaign for the Horseshoe, coming in at just the 21st overall spot:
21. Indianapolis (9-8, out of the playoffs)
It’s a great cliché in the NFL, but so true about the Colts: They’ll go as far as the quarterback takes them. After a three-year, 27-23 post-Luck run with Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers and Carson Wentz, now they settle into a season with 37-year-old Matt Ryan and a suspect receiving corps that features three recent second-round picks—Parris Campbell (2019), Michael Pittman Jr. (2020) and Alec Pierce (2022). Ryan’s 7.1-yards-per-attempt with Atlanta last year was his lowest in eight years, and Frank Reich has been hungry to start stretching the defense with some deeper throws. So we’ll see if Ryan can still air it out. The Colts have the talent to win the AFC South, and the defense is good enough to keep them in games. They need a quarterback who makes receivers better and who’s in the building for more than 10 or 15 minutes. Ryan’s the latest hope for those jobs.
Without explicitly stating it, King doesn’t seem as high on a Matt Ryan late career rejuvenation in Indianapolis, compared to other NFL national media members.
He’s right too that expectations should be somewhat tempered for the 37 year old veteran quarterback—as completely finding the fountain of youth at his age and fully regaining his 2016 NFL MVP form seems highly unlikely.
That being said, the Colts still have NFL First-Team All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor, who King surprisingly omitted to mention, to heavily lean on offensively as its workhorse. The offense realistically just needs Ryan to be more consistent, accurate, and not make bonehead off-hand shovel passes or other erratic plays behind center.
‘Hit the layups’ and not be afraid to checkdown underneath. Simply make the routine throw for 7-8 yards to help move the sticks. Of course, a few big time throws a game would certainly help the Colts’ winning cause too.
Given Ryan’s advanced football age, I can reasonably understand why someone like King would be a little bit further down on the Colts (especially given that the AFC is a ‘young man’s game’ with several budding superstar quarterbacks under 30). However, this is still a well-rounded Indianapolis team that also added Yannick Ngakoue and Stephon Gilmore this offseason, that should be no worse than the 15th team in the league—worst case scenario.
Let’s not forget that with Carson Wentz, this is a Colts team that still blew out the Buffalo Bills on the road and convincingly took it to the New England Patriots at home last year.
The Colts defense is also better than a unit that simply ‘keeps the team in games’, as it has the chance to ascend into a Top 5 unit defensively under new coordinator Gus Bradley—especially with the impactful additions of Ngakoue and Gilmore to pair with the already strong core of Darius Leonard, DeForest Buckner, and Kenny Moore II.
King doesn’t necessarily need to put on the ‘Horseshoe blue colored glasses’ here and believe that the Colts are a bona fide Super Bowl contender in 2022—but this ranking admittedly seems low, all things considered.