Ryan Kelly in 2023:— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) October 12, 2023
• Highest graded center (86.0)
• Highest pass block grade (82.4)
• 1 pressure allowed
• 0 sacks allowed pic.twitter.com/Gvxf9vmSaa
Not only does Kelly grade out by PFF as elite in pass blocking, but ESPN’s Analytics shares a similar sentiment, as the Colts’ 30 year old center ranks 6th best in pass block win rate (97%) among all interior offensive linemen—not just centers. (Although it should be noted that’s in limited snaps, as Kelly has missed two starts earlier this season because of a concussion.)
Not to mention, his 82% run block win rate is 2nd best respectively by ESPN Analytics, meaning he’s blocking as well as anyone interior-wise in both facets on the field.
It’s been a remarkable resurgence for a former star player and veteran center who was the reported subject of earlier trade rumors back in March of this year.
So what exactly may have happened?
In December of 2021, Kelly and his wife Emma tragically lost their newborn daughter due to heart failure. It’s quite possible that the mental and emotional trauma from devastatingly losing a young child inadvertently took their toll on Kelly’s performance on the field—and rightfully so, as that’s something that’s a whole lot bigger than football.
Sometimes, your mental struggles can affect you physically as well—and perhaps, and not by conscious choice, Kelly’s heart and attention just weren’t quite fully in it anymore, as he and his wife were still grieving and recovering from such personal tragedy off the field, which is fully understandable in light of the surrounding tragic circumstances.
Maybe last year, he was just unintentionally going through the motions of it all.
There, but not really fully there, if you know what I mean.
The NFL is a hard enough game to play even when you’re fully checked in—and mind clear.
Even more reason for the critical importance of the Colts ‘Kicking the Stigma’ initiative regarding overcoming the stigmas associated with mental health struggles and seeking help.
Now, perhaps while certainly never ever forgetting their lost newborn daughter’s special memory, Kelly, his wife Emma, and growing family—with new twin boys, have been able to recover a bit and heal some mentally—given their faith, conviction, added time, and having each other as anchors for emotional support.
Perhaps, Kelly has also felt rejuvenated in his 8-year NFL career by a new Indy coaching staff—which includes emerging young offensive line coach Tony Sparano Jr. bringing much needed new energy, motivational mantras, core philosophies, and blocking techniques into the Colts building.
Perhaps Kelly is just physically healthier all together, even recent concussion aside.
Whatever the case may actually be, and there’s a lot to fully consider here, Kelly is playing arguably as well as he ever has—including when he was named an NFL 2nd-Team All-Pro at his position after his standout 2020 campaign.
Right now, Kelly’s one of the key catalysts as to why the Colts have been ranked by PFF as a Top 5 offensive line unit to-date, as the former Indy 2016 first round pick and team captain finally looks like himself again (and seems happy)—and that’s great for everyone to see, especially from a personal perspective much bigger than football.