Frank Reich says Matt Ryan, Colts 'needed each other'

The Colts were knocked out of the playoffs last season following a shocking defeat to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 18

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Nearly a week after trading for quarterback Matt Ryan, Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich says the 2016 NFL MVP and his new team "needed each other."

"I think everyone saw from the outside that this is a good fit," Reich said at the annual league meeting Sunday in Florida, according to NFL.com. "Like, people can universally agree you got a guy who's still playing at a high level with a team and roster that is built to make some noise. We needed each other."

Ryan, a 14-year NFL veteran who had played his entire career with the Atlanta Falcons, hopes to become the third straight veteran quarterback to win a Super Bowl in his first season with a new team. For Indianapolis, Reich hopes to close a revolving door of quarterbacks he's seen during his tenure as head coach since the retirement of Andrew Luck. 

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Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich watches his team against the Arizona Cardinals Dec. 25, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz.

Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich watches his team against the Arizona Cardinals Dec. 25, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb, File)

The Colts made the move after trading Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders earlier this month, but Ryan initially wasn't on Indianapolis' radar after that trade, Reich said. 

Carson Wentz (2) of the Indianapolis Colts talks with head coach Frank Reich of the Indianapolis Colts during a game against the New York Jets at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Nov. 4, 2021.

Carson Wentz (2) of the Indianapolis Colts talks with head coach Frank Reich of the Indianapolis Colts during a game against the New York Jets at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Nov. 4, 2021. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

The team looked into acquiring Ryan around the same time former Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson was rumored to land in Atlanta, Reich said. The Falcons kept talks ongoing with Ryan, Reich said, and reportedly made the deal after losing out on the Watson sweepstakes. Watson is now with the Cleveland Browns

To determine if Ryan was a good fit, Reich said he first looked into whether the accuracy and arm strength of the former Falcons quarterback was still there. 

"So, dig into every throw from the last couple years. Look at the ball velocity, look at the length, look at the accuracy, look at the movement skills and I see no diminishing physical skills," Reich said. 

Ryan had been the starting quarterback for Atlanta ever since he was selected No. 3 overall by the Falcons in the 2008 NFL Draft. He’s only missed a handful of games during his solid career and helped Atlanta to its second-ever Super Bowl appearance during the 2016 season. However, the team lost to the New England Patriots in brutal fashion – a second-half comeback after Atlanta had been up 28-3.

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After the Falcons traded Julio Jones and lost Calvin Ridley in the middle of last season, Ryan finished with 3,968 passing yards, which was the lowest total for him since 2010. He threw for at least 4,000 passing yards in each of the previous 10 seasons.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan speaks during a press conference at the team's practice facility in Indianapolis March 22, 2022.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan speaks during a press conference at the team's practice facility in Indianapolis March 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The Colts have a playoff-caliber roster with seven players selected to the Pro Bowl last season, including first-team AP All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor, who became the youngest player in NFL history to total 2,000 scrimmage yards and 20 touchdowns in a season. 

Reich said the Colts' offense is going to be similar to last year's with a few tweaks he hopes will play to Ryan's strengths.

"We'll pull out concepts that he's done a lot in Atlanta and he's been successful with. We'll listen to how he's thought about those things, how they complement what we do, and then we'll find ways to integrate some of those things," Reich said. "I can already tell in a few short discussions with him, that we will create some things together. Some of it is bringing together his old (playbook) and what we've been doing, yet there's still things that will be created together. I'm looking forward to those."

The Colts were knocked out of the playoffs last season following a shocking defeat to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 18. Reich says ending a season that way "eats at you forever," though he expressed optimism that the defeat and trade of Ryan could provide a spark for his team. 

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"When you finish the season the way we did, it eats at you forever. It will never go away," said Reich. "I've just seen this time and time again, not only in my own career, but you just look around in sports history, this happens. It happens where you go through an epic collapse or failure, and then that actually turns out to be the very thing that sparks you to go to that next level. That's what we're believing and thinking is gonna happen in Indianapolis."

The Colts acquired Ryan from the Falcons in exchange for a 2022 third-round draft pick.

Fox News' Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report