Matt Ryan has had his issues taking care of the football through five games with the Indianapolis Colts, making it even more impressive the Colts are .500 with a 2-2-1 record as their newest veteran quarterback tries to figure things out. Ryan has 11 fumbles to start the season, on pace for an NFL record no player wants to own.
Ryan is on pace for 37 fumbles this season, which would obliterate the all-time mark set by Kerry Collins and Daunte Culpepper. Collins and Culpepper each had 23 fumbles in a season, with Collins setting the record in 2001 before Culpepper matched it in 2002. Tony Banks previously held the record with 21 in 1996, while David Carr also had 21 in his rookie season in 2002.
The most fumbles in a season by any player since 2007 is Daniel Jones with 19 (2019). Ryan's fumbles have been an issue for the Colts, who are third in the league in giveaways (11) and minus-6 in turnover margin (third-worst in NFL).
"The thing that everybody is going to say is two hands on the ball in the pocket as long as you possibly can. That's what everybody is going to say," Colts head coach Frank Reich said Monday. "Now within that framework, there is one or two things that we've talked about with him...but obviously when you're having that issue, at one point just like you said it's the maturity to say, 'I've got 14 years of film that says this is a fluke for him. But wait a second, it's not a fluke to us because we feel the pain of those so we better get this thing fixed.'
"It's that combination of I've got extreme confidence in Matt (Ryan) that we're going to get this cleaned up. But on the other hand at the same time, I feel like we've got to have a sense of urgency. What little things can we do? I know these aren't all his fault, but what can we do to clean these up? We've talked about those with Matt and he's making a conscious effort."
Ryan had 11 fumbles last season to lead the league, equaling his total already this year. He has 22 fumbles over the past two years and has never had more than 12 in a season (2015). On top of the fumbles, Ryan leads the NFL in interceptions thrown (seven) and has been sacked 21 times (which also leads the league).
On pace for 24 interceptions and being sacked 71 times, there's a reason Ryan is turning the ball over at an alarming rate.
"One of the great things about Matt is, like every great player, he's hard on himself," Reich said. "In his mind, 'Hey, it doesn't matter that we're playing behind the sticks. I have to do better.'
"Obviously, the No.1 thing is the turnovers. We have to get that cleaned up. Some of those are on him, but they aren't all on him. That's the biggest thing. I think in other ways you look at certain things in the pass game, he made three or four throws in that last game that were elite. That if you really look at the tight copy and you see a couple throws that he made, they are unreal throws.
"I think we're getting these young guys in the passing game, getting more guys involved. It's not just (Michael) Pittman Jr. anymore. We're spreading the ball around. I think that could be good for us going forward."