He was 18 from 21 passing 123 yards and one touchdown in the second half but couldn’t complete his fourth comeback in the final quarter of the season. Reich said that even if Ryan wasn’t hurt, the decision would be the same.
“The shoulder injury is real, but this movement would have been done either way,” he said.
Ryan did not speak to reporters on Monday. Usually on Wednesdays.
Indy (3-3-1) sent the 2022 third-round draft pick to Atlanta for 37-year-old Ryan in March.
General Manager Chris Ballard thought Ryan was playing well last season. In April, team owner Jim Irsay said he believed Ryan could make the Colts competitive for up to four more years.
But this season has not gone the way many expected.
Ryan has thrown nine interceptions and has 11 fouls, both top level in the league.
The Colts’ usually strong offensive line has struggled, allowing 59 hits and 24 sacks — a tie with Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow for most of Monday’s NFL entry.
With a traditionally strong Indy ground game ineffective, Ryan threw more passes (297) than anyone other than Justin Herbert (308) of the Chargers.
This combination made Indy the fourth-lowest team to score in the NFL (16.1 points) and needed a change.
“Excited for Sam and the opportunity this presents to him,” Reich said. “We always thought Sam had some special sauce. We feel this was the best decision for our team.”
Ehlinger’s sudden rise on the depth chart came quickly.
The former Texan star was the sixth-round pick in 2021 but opened his rookie season on the reserve injured with a knee injury. In October of that season, he beat Jacob Eason for third and ended up appearing in three games, although Ellinger did not throw a pass.
The show’s impressive second season had some openly wondering if the 6-foot-1, 222-pound Ehlinger might replace Super Bowl 52 MVP Nick Foles, a longtime friend of Reich’s, for second.
Reich made the move ahead of the week’s sixth win over Jacksonville and kept Ellinger in a reserve spot on Sunday.
Ehlinger believes this move was made primarily for use in some plays.
“We haven’t discussed a package this week, so I don’t know what the plan is,” Ellinger said last Wednesday. Last week, there were some situations that we talked about. Obviously, none of them ended up running.”
Another week of training continued to spark interest within the organization, and when Ryan struggled again on Sunday, Reich, Irsay and Ballard met again to discuss the move.
Reich said he told his quarterbacks and teammates on Monday and that Ryan responded like a pro, promising to help the ponies. The hope is that Ehlinger’s ability to move can help him avoid lunges, do field juggling and do leg-play.
“I think it’s a great decision for us to get Sam back there, the way he came in and made the plays,” Grover Stewart said. “I think it’s a good decision for us.”
Ehlinger will be the seventh different starting player to be used by Reich in a five-year tenure with the Colts.
Ryan ranks among the top 10 NFL players of all time in the passing yards, career completion and fourth-quarter comeback, a late-game mastery that won Reich praise only last week.
And with another year left on Ryan’s contract, which will likely cost Colts $21.7 million in 2023, Ryan may not be part of Indy’s long-term plan either.
“I told Matt this, ‘We’re not putting off our end of the bargain here. I mean, you came here and we promised you one of the best dash games in the NFL and we promised you great protection, and we didn’t really, as an insult, implement that, and that starts with me,” Reich said. That there would be a normal marriage.”
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