The Indianapolis Colts are benching Matt Ryan in favor of second-year quarterback Sam Ehlinger.
Coach Frank Reich made the announcement on Monday after Ryan threw two more interceptions in Sunday’s 19-10 loss at Tennessee. Reich said Ryan suffered a separated throwing shoulder in the game, but that the decision to make a change was not injury related.
“Right now the move is for Sam to be the starter for the rest of the season,” Reich told the team’s website.
Ryan leads the NFL in interceptions with nine, and has fumbled 11 times this season. The 37-year-old Ryan has been sacked 24 times, taken 59 hits and ranks second in pass attempts with 297, largely because the Colts (3-3-1) have been unable to get their ground game working effectively.
Ryan joined the Colts in a trade from the Atlanta Falcons in March. He is contracted through to the end of 2023 and is due to make $21.7m in base salary next season.
Ehlinger was a sixth-round pick in 2021, but has taken a rapid ascent to his first NFL start. He started his rookie season on injured reserve, but joined the active roster in October. A strong preseason in 2022 put him in the conversation to supplant Super Bowl 52 MVP Nick Foles as No 2 on the Colts depth chart, a move Reich made before the team’s Week 6 game.
Ehlinger has appeared in three NFL games, but has never thrown a pass. Reich said he was even more impressed with Ehlinger’s practice leading up to the Tennessee game and now he’s moved past Ryan, who ranks among the NFL’s top 10 in career yards passing and career completions and was league MVP in the 2016 season.
Ehlinger will be the seventh different starting quarterback Reich has used in his five-year tenure with the Colts.
Indy are 1.5 games behind Tennessee in the AFC South.