INDIANAPOLIS – Matt Ryan has been an Indianapolis Colt for just over five weeks and is in his second week of rubbing shoulders with his new teammates and coaching staff at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
But his presence already is being felt, and it’s transcended the offense Ryan was brought in to influence.
On occasion, defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has taken time to approach the team’s latest starting quarterback.
“Although we’ve just had a couple of chances to visit, you feel him in this building,’’ he said Wednesday. “Without a doubt, you feel that part of him.’’
From a pure football standout, it’s been a time for Frank Reich and coordinator Marcus Brady to determine how best to incorporate the positional preferences Ryan accumulated during his 14 seasons with the Atlanta Falcons into the offense.
After just three meetings last week, Reich estimated his offense had been tweaked 10% to reflect Ryan’s nuances.
“A lot of it is, ‘OK, this is the type of offense we run here,’’’ Brady said. “A lot of the concepts are stuff he’s ran himself, and then just tailoring it to him. We watched a lot of his film once we did sign him and tried to get a feel for what he likes and what he’s good at and then kind of emphasize (that).”
“Last week when he came in, he kind of brought some ideas as well of some things he’s done over the years that we kind of want to add. It’s an opportunity for us to grow and learn from him as well.”
“He fits our offense perfectly. He wants to get the ball out quickly, he’s in rhythm, he’s an accurate quarterback.’’
Ryan was the face of the Falcons from the moment they selected him with the 3rd overall pick in the 2008 draft. But the continuity he provided – missing only three of 225 starts in 14 seasons, just one since 2010 – occasionally was compromised by a change in coordinators. There were five, six if you include two different stints for Dirk Koetter.
The most significant change in Ryan’s playing arc occurred in 2015 when Atlanta fired coach Mike Smith and replaced him with Dan Quinn. Kyle Shanahan was brought in as coordinator, succeeding Koetter.
“A big change,’’ Ryan insisted.
And now, another. Sorta.
“This is a big change, there’s no doubt about it, but there’s a lot of carryover,’’ he said. “One of the beauties of being at this point of my career and playing for the number of coordinators that I did is that at some point you’ve kind of done everything in some way, shape or form.
“I feel more comfortable going through this transition than probably 2014, 2015.’’
The biggest change?
“Just the language, not necessarily the concepts, the details,’’ Ryan said. “And also the coaching points, what the emphasis is. I’ve heard it a lot of different ways, but kind of speaking that same language to the players.’’
The first two weeks of the offseason workout program allows informal on-field work by players, but without coaches.
That’s offered an opportunity for another of Ryan’s traits to assert itself.
“He’s damn-near a coach himself,’’ Brady said. “This week, last week he’s coaching up the receivers as well. ‘Look, this is what I’m looking for. This is what I expect. This is the body lean I want you to have.’”
“It’s a breath of fresh air to hear that. The rest of the room’s not just hearing it from the coaches. They’re hearing it from the quarterback.’’
Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner admitted he tried not to become preoccupied with the Colts’ latest quarterback search during the offseason.
“That’s not my job. I trust (Chris) Ballard,’’ he said. “That’s just added stress I don’t need in my life.’’
Besides, he’s grown accustomed to a QB Carousel. During his four seasons in San Francisco, the 49ers used six different starting quarterbacks.
Ryan represents the third starter in three seasons in Indy for Buckner, following Philip Rivers and Wentz.
It was mentioned perhaps the QB Carousel followed Buckner from San Francisco to Indy with the 2020 trade.
“I’m pretty sure you guys had that problem before I got here,’’ he said with a laugh.
Buckner compared Ryan with Rivers, who joined the Colts in ’20 following 16 decorated seasons with the Chargers.
“The veteran quarterback, being able to demand a room but also he’s really good at building relationships with guys,’’ he said. “I’m excited to move forward and work with him.
“I’ve been talking to him every day. Being in the office and just getting to know him and him getting to know me, you can just see why he’s been in the league so long and why he’s been competing at a high level for so long.’’
Buckner’s first meeting with Ryan came in week 15 of 2016. He was a rookie with the 49ers, the 6th overall pick in the draft. Ryan was directing the NFL’s No. 1-ranked offense and would be named MVP and take the Falcons to the Super Bowl.
Ryan passed for 286 yards and two touchdowns and the offense churned for 550 total yards in a 41-13 Atlanta blowout.
“It was probably one of the longest games of my life because we got killed,’’ Buckner said. “I know the type of competitor he is. Also, I played him back in ’19. He beat us again.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.