INDIANAPOLIS. In his last high school game at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia, Matt Ryan threw a total of eight passes.

That’s how it was in his team’s offense, the scheme of which did not require much effort from the quarterback’s hand.

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“I was a 170-pound quarterback with three options,” Ryan told Sportzshala in 2017.

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Now, two decades later, the Indianapolis Colts quarterback is ending a game in which he has shot more than ever. Ryan’s 58 attempts in Sunday’s victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars was the second most in his 15 NFL seasons. But what’s more remarkable is that the aggressive passing approach the Colts used to win this game might be something they can replicate on a smaller scale as they try to find their offensive footing.

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The Colts, one of the NFL teams most dedicated to football in recent years, are already in a very different offensive position this season. For a variety of reasons, they actually flipped the script when choosing a game. They have gone from one of the busiest teams in manager Frank Reich’s previous four seasons to one of the most successful clubs in the league in 2022.

Take a look at the data: In Reich’s first four seasons (2018-2021), the Colts ranked 27th in percentage of offensive snaps that count as settled passes (59%). The Colts are calling passes at 67.3% this season, fifth in the league ahead of Week 7.

This may not seem like such a significant increase, but let’s look at the numbers in a broader context. The Colts averaged 31 assists per game last season. So far in 2022, there are an average of 42.

The current pace of passing attempts is potentially skewed by a couple of uneven results. Additionally, the use of the no-fuss offense against Jacksonville resulted in more offensive games for Indianapolis. But the most significant blow was the Colts’ inability to effectively control the ball. The same team whose offensive linemen once proudly donned “handle the damned ball” hats, the same team that led the NFL in yards per try in 2021, is suddenly unable to provide consistent push on the run. game.

In trying to find a solution, the Colts did what was once unthinkable: When top runners Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines were sidelined by injury, they practically gave up the running game and the results were fantastic.

“We’re still trying to find our way into the running game, and in the meantime we have to do our best to try and win the games,” Reich said.

Expecting many games with 58 pass attempts can be a bit extreme. And there will be matches in which it is not profitable for the Colts to throw so aggressively.

“We’re not going to drop it 50 times every week,” Ryan said. “It will not happen”.

But the dramatic turn in last Sunday’s offense cannot be overlooked. So here are a few questions to think about: Are we just watching a desperate team do what they have to do to create a much-needed offense? Or could it be part of a long term shift? Should it be?

Time will tell, but here’s what we know: The Colts were the lowest-scoring team in the league five weeks before they started passing hard and scored a season-high 34 points against the Jaguars, the team that shut them out in the week. 2.

Also, this season, the Colts have put in a lot of effort trying to regain their blistering dominance, but have failed. They rank 30th in yards per attempt (3.51). How many precious pranks did the Colts waste?

Meanwhile, Ryan entered Week 7 second in the league in passing yards behind Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills. Why not rely on it?

“I’ve always felt that if we have to do this, I trust myself, I trust our (recipients) and I trust our guys up front,” Ryan said.

If you still think this is nothing more than a reaction to the Colts playing hard, Reich has actually been wrestling with his philosophy for quite some time now.

Watching playoff playoffs last season, when quarterbacks like Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes, and Allen won games with aggressive passing attacks, Reich looked at his team and wondered if they could do the same. Of the top 10 teams in passing yards per game in 2021, nine have qualified for the playoffs.

This is hardly the only statistic that proves that the most important thing is an effective pass, and Reich seems to understand this.

“You don’t see teams that have this ground and pound game winning championships,” he said in August. “You just don’t.”

He added: “If we happen to play teams that are weak against running and are struggling to play on the run, we will buckle up and dominate the game on the run and throw 20 or 25 times. But it just won’t last long. … And you won’t win a championship like that.”

If Reich had felt this way even before he faced his team’s recent difficulties in the running game, he might have strengthened his feelings even more after Sunday.

Can Ryan hit 58 passes Sunday at the Tennessee Titans (13:00 ET Sunday, CBS)? Most likely not. But given the way the Colts offense has evolved, he should also be ready to throw a few more times than he once did at Penn Charter.