Colts’ Ryan Kelly Puts Teammates on Notice Ahead of Rivalry Matchup

Ryan Kelly

Getty Indianapolis Colts center Ryan Kelly hyped up the Week 4 matchup against the Tennessee Titans.

The Indianapolis Colts will renew their rivalry with the Tennessee Titans on October 2 in Week 4. The Colts own a 35-20 advantage in the series’ history, but the Titans have largely dominated the rivalry lately.

Tennessee has beaten Indianapolis in 6 of the last 10 matchups, including in 4 of the most recent 5 meetings. Last season, the Titans swept the Colts, winning the matchup in Indianapolis in overtime.

Don’t think that’s not lost on the Colts players, especially the longest tenured player in the Indianapolis organization — center Ryan Kelly.

“Obviously, it’s personal,” center Ryan Kelly told the media according to The Athletic’s Zak Keefer. “[It’s personal] to everybody.

“You been here long enough, you understand it.”

‘It’s Personal’ Mantra Comes from the Top

There’s a cliche in football that a team often emulates the personality of its head coach. In the case of the Colts-Titans rivalry, the Colts emulate their owner, Jim Irsay.

The Indianapolis owner brought up the Titans multiple times during the offseason. In August, Irsay portrayed the Titans as an obstacle the Colts need to overcome.

“We know going into it, it’s about Tennessee. It’s about winning the division,” Irsay said on August 17. “It’s about going against those guys who have been very tough.”

In other conversations, Irsay has been much more candid when speaking about the Titans.

“I don’t hide from the clear facts that are out there competitively,” Irsay explained last spring according to Keefer. “I wanna know. I wanna put them right in front of us — that’s just the way it is. You have to know where your nemeses lie. And it’s just completely unacceptable the way they’ve dominated the division over us. It just is.

“We have to prove we can beat them and beat them when it most matters. And consistently beat them. We haven’t.”

The Colts consistently beat the Titans with Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck at quarterback.  Indianapolis posted a 24-4 record versus Tennessee from 2003-16. Luck recorded a perfect 11-0 record in his career against the Titans.

But the rivalry has shifted in Tennessee’s favor recently. Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill is 4-1 versus the Colts since arriving in Nashville.

Colts-Titans to be Battle of the Trenches?

Pro bowl quarterbacks have largely dominated the Colts-Titans rivalry. But in the first Indianapolis-Tennessee meeting of 2022, the offensive and defensive lines appear set to make the biggest difference.

“This game’s gonna be old-school,” Buckner said to Keefer. “One you gotta win in the trenches. I love it. It’s mano a mano.”

The 2 teams feature the last 3 rushing title winners with running backs Jonathan Taylor and Derrick Henry.

Taylor has been stuck in the mud a bit since running for 161 yards in Week 1. He’s averaged 4.2 yards per carry with 62.5 yards rushing per game the last 2 weeks.

Coming off an injury-plagued 2021 campaign, Henry is off to a slow start. He is averaging a career-low 3.6 yards per carry and 64.0 yards per game this season.

But the Titans involved him early and often in the passing game last week. Henry led the team with 5 catches and posted 58 receiving yards.

The offensive line that opens the most holes for its running back has a great chance of winning this matchup. Without a doubt, Kelly will be ready to do his part to ensure Taylor has the most space to operate.

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