The Indianapolis Colts have the most expensive offensive line in the NFL. The unit is supposed to be one of the strengths of the team.
It’s how the Colts convinced quarterback Matt Ryan to want to play his final few seasons in Indianapolis. The Colts offensive line was expected to dominant up front, create running lanes for Jonathan Taylor and protect Ryan for short, accurate throws.
That’s far from the reality for the Indianapolis offense through 5 games in the 2022 season. The Colts are ranked 26th in rushing yards per game and 27th in yards per carry. Moreover, the Colts have allowed 21 sacks.
The offensive line problems have resulted in Indianapolis being ranked dead last with 13.8 points per game. The Colts have yet to eclipse 20 points in a game this season.
One would expect with that lack of production, there would be a lot of issues to correct along the Colts offensive front. But interestingly, The Pat McAfee Show simplified what’s going wrong for the Indianapolis offensive line.
“It’s the tackles, right? You could have the best guard of all time and a good center, but when you can’t protect your guy off the edge, defenses are going to f****** absolutely feast on that,” The Pat McAfee Show producer Boston Connor said on October 7.
Bernhard Raimann Makes First Start at Left Tackle
The Colts mixed up their offensive line in a major way for Week 5, switching Matt Pryor from left to right tackle and kicking Branden Smith inside to right guard. Smith was the third different starter for the Colts at right guard in as many weeks.
At left tackle, Raimann made his first start against the Broncos. It went about as well as one could expect considering Raimann didn’t play at all on offense on October 2 and then was asked 4 days later to make his first NFL start on the road along Ryan’s blindside.
Raimann committed 4 penalties in the first half alone.
“He had no business being out there on an island [against the Broncos pass rush],” producer Ty Schmit of The Pat McAfee Show said. “But at the same time, Pryor, he couldn’t do anything either. He was consistently getting beat.”
Spotrac reported the Colts dedicated $19.84 million of their salary cap to their offensive line in 2022, which is the most in the league. But the way the offensive line was structured on October 6, Indianapolis’ 3 most expensive linemen were all on the interior of the line.
The 2 weakest links for the Colts offensive line were at both tackle spots.
Colts Failed to Address Left Tackle During Offseason
A big reason why Indianapolis entered the season as the popular favorite in the AFC South was the fact that general manager Chris Ballard addressed arguably the 2 most important positions in the NFL — quarterback and pass rush. Ballard seemingly improved both areas by trading for Ryan and Yannick Ngakoue.
But 1 area Ballard completely ignored was left tackle. Pryor played well enough in 5 starts last season to make the Colts comfortable with him as the team’s starting left tackle, and Indianapolis drafted Raimann in the third round to compete with Pryor during training camp.
That offseason plan appears to have utterly failed 5 weeks into the season. The Colts’ interior offensive linemen aren’t living up to their contracts, which has made it hard for Indianapolis to run the ball.
Then in obvious passing situations, Pryor and Raimann can’t protect Ryan, who is on pace to set the NFL single-season fumble record. Ryan fumbled 2 more times in Week 5 against the Broncos.
Colts Running Out of Offensive Line Options
Indianapolis has tried 3 different offensive line combinations in the last 12 days. Although there appeared to be a little more running room in Week 5, particularly in the second half, overall, the results haven’t been good.
Now there’s little more the Colts can do to “shake things up.” Indianapolis can move Smith back to right tackle to hopefully solidify 1 of the tackle spots, but Raimann and Pryor are really the team’s only options at left tackle unless the Colts want to try journeyman swing tackle Dennis Kelly.
And with Smith back at right tackle, Indianapolis still has issues at right guard. Furthermore, center Ryan Kelly left the game on October 6 with an injury.
The Pat McAfee Show producers identified the big problem for Indianapolis’ offensive line. But there’s still a long way to go for the Colts to fix it.