Sure, the Colts have been in a maddening quarterback carousel since Andrew Luck retired in 2019.
However, it’s been good for the most part.
Let’s take a short trip down memory lane and reminisce on Indy’s quarterback history since the Manning era.
Peyton Manning Helped Turn The Colts’ Fortunes Around
Based on their quarterback prowess alone, it would’ve been agonizing to choose between Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf in 1998.
However, Manning’s character was worlds apart from Leaf – while the former took copious notes and asked intelligent questions, the former liked to party the night away.
Thank heavens team owner Jim Irsay and then-general manager and team president Bill Polian chose Manning over Leaf.
(2007) Peyton Manning tossed this amazing touchdown pass in Super Bowl XLI 😮#peytonmanning #peyton #manning #nfl #indianapoliscolts #indianapolis #colts #americanfootball #pass #touchdown #superbowl pic.twitter.com/HCf4N9dSlE
— In The Showcase (@intheshowcase) September 14, 2020
For his part, Manning earned that well-deserved gold jacket and bust in Canton in 2021.
The Post-Manning Era: From Andrew Luck to Matt Ryan
Manning’s neck injury resulted in a disastrous 2-14 2011 NFL season for Indy.
The infamous “Suck for Luck” campaign landed talented Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck in 2012.
Luck promptly turned the Colts’ fortunes around with three consecutive 11-win seasons.
Unfortunately, Luck got beaten up as his short-lived pro football career wound down.
Luck shocked the football world by retiring in the summer of 2019.
He was barely 30 years old and in the prime of his career.
Luck’s backup Jacoby Brissett took over the reins and led them to seven wins in 2019.
However, Brissett wasn’t a gunslinger – his lack of a rifle arm took a massive toll on the Colts’ passing game.
Enter Philip Rivers.
Rivers helped resuscitate Indy’s moribund passing game during the COVID-19-ravaged 2020 NFL campaign.
With Rivers under center, the Colts won 11 games and reached the AFC Wild Card Game.
It seemed the Colts were in good hands with Rivers at quarterback.
However, Rivers, who was on the cusp of turning 40, decided to retire following the 2020 NFL campaign.
— Locked On Colts Podcast (@LockedOnColts) January 31, 2022
The Colts quickly focused their attention on disgruntled Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Wentz, who has a history with head coach Frank Reich.
Regrettably, the Wentz experiment failed – while he had a decent season (27 TDs, 7 interceptions), he had a penchant for making boneheaded mistakes at the worst possible time.
Fortunately, Colts GM Chris Ballard acquired 2016 NFL MVP Ryan in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons several months ago.
Just when it appeared controversial quarterback Deshaun Watson would sign with the Falcons, he signed with the Cleveland Browns for $230 million instead.
By some ironic twist of fate, Ryan wound up with the Horseshoe.
With NFL rushing yardage leader Jonathan Taylor and a revamped receiving corps in tow, Ryan should thrive in the Circle City in 2022 and beyond.
Sure, Manning’s release a decade ago was heartbreaking.
Ditto for Luck’s premature retirement in 2019.
However, the Colts’ quarterback position has held serve for the most part since drafting Manning 24 years ago.
With owner Jim Irsay and GM Chris Ballard leading the charge, that trend will continue after Ryan hangs up his cleats.