Prior to the 2020 season, an NFL quarterback had never started more than eight regular season games in his first year with an NFL franchise and won the Super Bowl.
But over the last two years, that’s now happened twice.
In his first season outside New England, Tom Brady led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a dominating 31-9 victory against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs a year ago. Then after getting traded, Matthew Stafford did the same thing for the Los Angeles Rams, taking them to a Super Bowl title against the Cincinnati Bengals in February.
The fact quarterbacks in their first seasons with new teams have won the last two Super Bowls is not lost on new Indianapolis Colts signal caller Matt Ryan.
“The roadmap looks really good. What Matthew Stafford did in LA last year, making that transition, playing so well and what Tom [Brady] did, I saw that firsthand in the division the year before,” Ryan said in his Colts introductory press conference. “Hopefully we bottle up some of that momentum and we can make a push here.
“I really believe we can. I think this roster is built really well. They’re sound across the board, built with really high character football players, guys who work hard.”
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NFL Free Agency Continues to Evolve
It’s not happening all in free agency. Stafford and Ryan were traded to their new teams the last two offseasons, but March in the NFL has begun to look a lot like NBA free agency.
In recent years, franchises have begun looking for upgrades at the expense of their current players and done everything possible to sign or trade for superstars.
Ryan admitted during his first press conference in Indianapolis that he’s been a little slow in seeing the evolution in NFL free agency. But Ryan says his wife, Sarah, has not been.
“She’s like, you still think about the NFL like it’s 2010. It’s different. It definitely is,” Ryan said. “Everything changes. Times evolve. The business side of this has evolved, the free agency side of it has evolved, and it’s going to continue to.”
Before Brady’s championship with the Buccaneers in 2020, Trent Dilfer with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000 and Nick Foles with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017 were the only quarterbacks in NFL history to start and win Super Bowls while being in their first seasons with a new team.
But Dilfer did not start the entire 2000 regular season. In fact, he played in just 11 games (starting eight) overall.
Foles appeared in seven games for the Eagles during 2017, starting the final three regular season contests after Carson Wentz suffered a torn ACL in December. But while Foles didn’t play for the Eagles in 2016, he wasn’t technically in his first season with Philadelphia. He also played for the Eagles from 2012-14.
Matt Ryan Communicating with Matthew Stafford
Not only can Ryan take comfort in the fact recent Super Bowl history has been friendly to quarterbacks in his situation, he can also have conversations about it with a close friend.
Ryan said Stafford has “been a great friend for a long time” and that they have been talking throughout Ryan’s trade process.
“I think you lean on guys like that, on different guys that have gone through transitions to talk to them about some of the things that come up,” Ryan said. “I think you can learn a lot from guys who have done similar type things before you. He’s certainly navigated it really well last year.”
Including the postseason, Stafford went 16-5 in his first season with the Rams. He posted 4,886 passing yards with 41 touchdowns and 17 interceptions during the regular season.
Before getting traded to the Rams, Stafford had never won a playoff game.