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When the Indianapolis Colts lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 18 last season to shockingly miss out on the playoffs, there was one person the franchise and the fan base blamed more than anyone else: Quarterback Carson Wentz. The franchise was so sure Wentz was to blame it shipped him to Washington and traded for Matt Ryan. Problem solved.

The only problem is it didn’t solve the problem. 

Wentz hasn’t been great for the Commanders, but Ryan hasn’t been all that much better for the Colts, either. The AFC South team still has issues on both sides of the ball, and now Ryan is officially no longer the starting quarterback, despite the franchise paying him $36.7 million guaranteed.

The Matt Ryan Era might officially be over in Indy

Matt Ryan came to the Colts as a four-time Pro Bowl and one-time All-Pro quarterback with an NFL MVP Award, a Super Bowl appearance, and a 120-102 record as a starter. He threw for 59,735 yards in Atlanta with 367 touchdowns and 170 interceptions.

After moving to the Midwest, though, Ryan hasn’t been as good. He is 3-3-1 as the Colts starter and has 2,008 passing yards with nine TDs and a league-leading nine INTs.

In Week 7, he presided over a 19-10 loss to the AFC-rival Tennessee Titans. After that, Colts head coach Frank Reich had apparently seen enough. On the Monday ahead of Week 8, the Colts announced that Ryan has a Grade-2 shoulder sprain and backup Sam Ehlinger will start for the rest of the season.

As of Tuesday, it’s not exactly clear how much of the decision is based on Ryan’s injury and how much is due to the veteran’s performance.

Insider Tom Pelissero did say on NFL Network that “shoulder separation or no shoulder separation, Frank Reich said this was going to be the move. This is a sea change right now in Indianapolis. They hope for the better.”

Whether it’s Ryan or Ehlinger under center, there are other things that need to improve in Indianapolis for the Colts to turn their season around. The offensive line needs to play much better, and superstars Jonathan Taylor and Shaquille Leonard need to get healthy and be able to stay on the field.

The Colts’ expensive QB mistakes

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan walks off the field. He will be replaced by Sam Ehlinger in Week 8.
Matt Ryan | Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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The move from Matt Ryan to Sam Ehlinger won’t just have consequences on the field and in the locker room. It will hurt the franchise’s salary cap as well if the veteran QB doesn’t get back on the field.

While trading for Ryan only cost the Colts a third-round pick, they did pick up his $24.7 million guaranteed salary for 2022 and $12 million guaranteed for 2023. That’s $36.7 million for a quarterback who may only play seven games for the organization.

That might be a wild way to do business for some teams, but in the last five years, that’s pretty much par for the course in Indianapolis.

Since 2018, the Colts have paid out $145 million to 12 different quarterbacks:

  • 2018: Andrew Luck ($18M), Jacoby Brissett ($760K), Brad Kaaya ($555K)
  • 2019: Jacoby Brissett ($14.9M), Andrew Luck ($12M), Brian Hoyer ($5M), Chad Kelly ($268K)
  • 2020: Philip Rivers ($25M), Jacoby Brissett ($15.8M), Jacob Eason ($1.3M), Brian Hoyer ($950K)
  • 2021: Carson Wentz ($21.3M), Sam Ehlinger ($709K), Brett Hundley ($572K)
  • 2022: Matt Ryan ($24.7M), Nick Foles ($2.6M), Sam Ehlinger ($825K)

And how did all that money work out for the Colts? In five seasons, the team has two playoff appearances, one playoff win, and a 40-31-1 record.

In Week 8, we get to see if Ehlinger is the QB who can finally improve on that as the Colts take on the Washington Commanders at home at 4:25 pm ET Sunday.

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