clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Colts QB Matt Ryan Finds Himself in the Top 10 in Three Key Areas from ESPN’s ‘2022 NFL QB Council’

Colts’ 15-year veteran quarterback Matt Ryan still ranks among the league’s elite in three important categories.

Detroit Lions v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

According to ESPN’s ‘2022 NFL Quarterback Council,’ new Indianapolis Colts veteran starting quarterback Matt Ryan, even at age 37, still finds himself in the Top 10 in three key areas of his position—among all NFL quarterbacks.

For a consecutive offseason, the ‘Council’ consisted of well known NFL analysts, this year including: Matt Bowen, Tim Hasselbeck, Mina Kimes, Matt Miller, Jordan Reid, Louis Riddick, Mike Tannenbaum, Seth Walder, Field Yates, and Football Outsiders’ team of Aaron Schatz and Derrik Klassen.

Here are the three facets of quarterback play where Ryan still remains one of the league’s best playing his position:


In today’s NFL, quarterbacks have so many different throwing motions. But mechanics are still a big part of success. That includes a QB’s throwing motion, arm slot, release, follow-through and footwork, among other traits. Who are the most technically sound signal-callers in the league?

1. Tom Brady, Buccaneers

2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers

3. Joe Burrow, Bengals

4. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

5. Matthew Stafford, Rams

6. Justin Herbert, Chargers

7. Josh Allen, Bills

8. Russell Wilson, Broncos

9. Matt Ryan, Colts

10. Dak Prescott, Cowboys

Field vision

This looks at the ability to read the field. Included in that are awareness and recognition when it comes to seeing defensive schemes or coverages, along with the fast eyes to identify blitzers, breaking defensive backs and open targets. Will a QB audible out when he needs to, diagnosing and understanding different defensive looks? And how quickly can he get through his progressions? Does he get stuck on his first read too often and stare down receivers, making it easy for the defense? Or can he scan the field, make the defense bite with his eyes and then find the open receiver?

1. Tom Brady, Buccaneers

2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers

3. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

4. Joe Burrow, Bengals

5. Justin Herbert, Chargers

6. Josh Allen, Bills

7. Matthew Stafford, Rams

8. Dak Prescott, Cowboys

9. Matt Ryan, Colts

10. Deshaun Watson, Browns

What the tape says: At this stage of his career, Matt Ryan’s arm strength and movement skills are diminishing, but his ability to quickly read it out puts him in a position to deliver the ball on time as a rhythm passer. He recognizes late rotation and disguises in the secondary and senses pressure. And he has the ability to find coverage voids and matchups he wants. — Bowen

Pocket presence

Pocket presence refers to how a quarterback operates in the pocket. Some things our analysts looked at here include: ability to sense and avoid pressure, command and mobility within the pocket, calmness under duress and how a QB gets it done from both under center and shotgun formations.

1. Tom Brady, Buccaneers

2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers

3. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

4. Joe Burrow, Bengals

5. Josh Allen, Bills

6. Justin Herbert, Chargers

7. Dak Prescott, Cowboys

8. Matthew Stafford, Rams

9. Matt Ryan, Colts

10. Lamar Jackson, Ravens

Biggest surprise: Brady at No. 1 makes complete sense, considering the way he makes subtle movements in the pocket to create space and find ways to get the football off. But Matt Ryan sticks out to me as a QB who manages the pocket in a similar way, and I was surprised he was only ninth here. Many of the other quarterbacks on the list are either very willing or eager to bail from the pocket. — Hasselbeck

Ryan also garnered at least one vote in these other quarterback categories: arm strength, touch, decision-making with the football, toughness, and second-reaction ability.

In particular, ESPN NFL analyst Mina Kimes and the Football Outsiders pair of Schatz and Klassen felt Ryan was snubbed by the Council in the touch category—even coming off a down season production-wise (and team results collectively) with the Atlanta Falcons:

Biggest surprise: It’s not terribly surprising to see Matt Ryan miss the cut considering the Falcons’ struggles, but I’d still include him in my personal top 10. He throws a super catchable ball, especially at the intermediate level, which is one reason he finished with the second-lowest off-target percentage in the NFL last season (12.1%). — Kimes

Snubbed: At this stage in his career, Ryan doesn’t have the arm strength he once had. Anticipation, touch and accuracy have been the driving qualities for him continuing to play like a top-15 quarterback, despite how rough last season’s statistics look. Ryan’s ability to feel out windows over the middle and fire before they actually open only falls short of a few of the elite QBs. — Schatz/Klassen

With a potentially dominant ground game backing him up with reigning NFL rushing king Jonathan Taylor and electric weapon Nyheim Hines—and what should be one of the better NFL offensive lines, the Colts don’t necessarily need Ryan to be ‘Superman behind center.’

He can be a significant upgrade to his Colts starting quarterback predecessor, if he can simply anticipate and make accurate throws, including the routines ones—while avoiding critical mistakes and careless plays (which includes getting rid of the football faster, checking down, and eliminating any off-hand shovel passes from his offensive repertoire).

The Colts appear to be in safe and reliable hands at QB in the short-term, but time will tell whether Ryan’s big offseason addition is enough to propel them to the top of the AFC South—with thoughts of a deep AFC playoff push or even magical Super Bowl run coming soon thereafter.