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Why is Nick Foles starting for Colts? Jeff Saturday turns to new QB1 vs. Chargers as latest twist in Indy’s bizarre season

Matt Ryan’s time as the Colts’ starter has come to an end. Again.

Interim head coach Jeff Saturday announced on Wednesday that Ryan would no longer be starting for the Colts after their historic loss to the Vikings in Week 15. Instead, Indianapolis will roll with Nick Foles as its starter.

Foles is the third different starting quarterback of the year for the Colts. He opened the season as the backup to Ryan but was eventually leapfrogged on the depth chart by Sam Ehlinger in the final weeks of the Frank Reich era.

Things changed when Saturday took the reins, and Foles was eventually promoted to the backup job. He said that he harbors no resentment over the early season decision to demote him and looks forward to getting a chance to start.

But why exactly did the Colts make this move on eve of their game against the Chargers? It was a simple choice for Saturday in the end.

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Why the Colts are starting Nick Foles over Matt Ryan

Saturday was complimentary of Ryan when announcing that the team was moving on to Foles.

“[I] think the world of Matt,” Saturday said, per Zak Keefer of The Athletic. “He’s a pro’s pro. It’s not been the season he expected, nor the Colts as a whole.”

However, the Colts’ interim coach made it clear that he didn’t think Ryan was doing enough to help his team win games.

“Ultimately, I feel like Nick will give us a better chance to go win these last three games,” Saturday said.

Indeed, Ryan has struggled thus far during the 2022 NFL season. He leads the league in interceptions thrown with 13 and has posted middling-to-poor marks in most other major statistical categories. Below is a look at how he has fared in 2022 compared with the rest of the league.

Matt Ryan stats 2022

Stat Total Rank
Comp. % 67 9th
Passing yards 3,057 14th
Pass TDs 14 20th
INTs 13 1st
Yards per attempt 6.6 26th
Rating 83.9 28th
QBR 43.6 25th
PFF grade 63.8 31st

Add in that Ryan has been sacked a whopping 38 times in 12 starts this season and it’s clear that his penchant for negative plays is too much for him to overcome.

This marks the second time this season that Ryan has been benched. Then-coach Frank Reich cited Ryan’s performance as a problem in Week 8, when the Colts turned to Sam Ehlinger in relief of the 38-year-old veteran. Ehlinger didn’t fare well in his two starts before Saturday went back to Ryan.

Now, Saturday will pivot to a different veteran in the 33-year-old Foles.

MORE: NFL Twitter trolls Matt Ryan after Colts blow 33-0 lead vs. Vikings

Nick Foles stats

Foles has been a solid quarterback at times during his NFL career. He famously led the Eagles to a win in Super Bowl 52 after MVP candidate Carson Wentz was lost late in the season to a torn ACL, but he has had other good stretches during his career as well.

Most notably, Foles was a 10-game starter for the Eagles during the 2013 season, his second in the league. In Chip Kelly’s offense, Foles posted 2,891 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions while recording an 8-2 record. His performance was strong enough that he made the Pro Bowl during that season.

Overall, Foles has a winning record as a starting quarterback. As his career stats show, his biggest issue has been accuracy and consistency in a starting role.

Stat Total
Record 29-27
Comp. % 62.4
Passing yards 14,003
Pass TDs 82
INTs 43
Yards per attempt 6.8
Rating 97.3

Foles also completed 72.6 percent of his passes for 971 yards, six touchdowns and an interception in his three starts en route to a Super Bowl title in 2018. The Super Bowl MVP threw for 373 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in the contest and famously caught the “Philly Special” pass from tight end Trey Burton for another score.

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Colts QB depth chart

Below is a look at the Colts’ current quarterback depth chart after the announcement of Foles as a starter.

Rank Player
1 Nick Foles
T-2 Matt Ryan
T-2 Sam Ehlinger

Foles is entrenched in the No. 1 spot for at least this week. However, behind him, it’s a bit less clear.

Nate Atkins of the Indianapolis Star reports that Saturday isn’t yet ready to commit to a backup behind Foles. That means it could be either Ryan or Ehlinger who gets a chance to be the No. 2 quarterback on “Monday Night Football.”

Colts fans will have an answer to this by the time the game starts, as the Colts will almost certainly render either Ryan or Ehlinger inactive. Saturday could also make an announcement about his decision beforehand, too.

But for now, it seems that Ryan and Ehlinger are in equal standing. We’ll soon see whether this is a true benching for Ryan or whether he will have a chance to remain active as the 2022 season dwindles.

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