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Film Room: Carson Wentz, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly- Part 1: Athleticism

NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

In the months and weeks leading up to the Carson Wentz trade agreement, I was asked several times for my opinion of Wentz as a player. I knew what I had heard everyone say, Wentz was terrible. He’s lost his confidence. His throwing mechanics are a mess. He’s only had one good season. He needs an elite team around him to be good.

All of those things were parroted from the loudest football voices, everywhere you turned and that’s fine, but I had yet to really study Wentz and form my own opinion. With that in mind, I took to Twitter armed with NFL Gamepass recordings and started watching the 2020 Eagles. So far I’ve analyzed five games from Wentz’s 2020 season and I’ve learned a lot.

Today we’re going to look at Wentz’s athleticism.


Overview

In 2020 Wentz showed time and time again that he is a very good athlete for the position. Wentz’s ability to escape pressure, keep plays alive and pick up yards with his legs, is huge. His mobility will open up the Colts offense in ways it’s been lacking for years. Philip Rivers was excellent a season ago, but his inability to move outside the pocket limited the offense's ability to do things like designed rollouts and all of the effective passing concepts that work so well off of those. Wentz will open the playbook in other ways as Zach Hicks touched on here. Having said that his high level of athleticism doesn’t only create positive plays and we’ll look at the good the bad and the ugly from his 2020 season.


The Good

Athletic ability on display

I could upload a dozen more clips of Wentz’s athleticism getting him out of jams, keeping plays alive, and creating opportunities that just weren’t there before, but you get the idea. Wentz is a good athlete.

But this article is titled “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”. I’ve shown you the good, let's take a look at what happens when Wentz’s athleticism gets him into trouble.


The Bad

Athletic ability gone awry

I could also post a dozen more instances where Wentz uses his athleticism to get himself in trouble. He ran himself into sacks, he turned the ball over and he had roughly as many negative athletic plays, as positive.

Too often Wentz used his athleticism to try to save unsavable plays. He’s a good athlete but you’re not going to see him make defenders miss like a vintage Michael Vick, he just can’t create in that way. Too often Wentz failed to stay within the design of the called play, which is a fine line to toe with an athletic quarterback. On one hand, creating a quarterback who is afraid to create at all can lead to someone afraid to take chances, and Colts fans lived through two stints of Jacoby Brissett, I think we can all agree the occasional 50/50 ball is really nice to see. On the other hand, failing to curb those bad plays means your team might be willing to ship you out of town for a third-rounder and a future first*.

*Go ahead and make peace with this now. Short of injury, there’s almost no way the Colts have a first-round pick in 2022


The Ugly

The ugliest aspect of how Carson Wentz uses athleticism doesn’t have that much to do with Carson Wentz. Sure, Wentz is the one making the bad decisions but Wentz’s biggest mistakes come when he’s simply trying to do too much to go out and win games. I’ll show you a couple of clips that highlight why Wentz might feel the need to be a hero and try to win games on his own.

All these clips are just from one game. I realize that it’s the Ravens but I could go back and pull similar clips from every game I’ve watched. Wentz wasn’t protected consistently and when the guys in front of him did manage to block up the defense, more often than not his receivers failed to get open on the long-developing isolation routes that his head coach loved to call. There were also a lot of bad drops.

No one open, running for his life, trying to make a play. This is ugly. Why does he do this stuff so often?

Well, sometimes it worked.

The ugly truth of the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles is that if Carson Wentz wasn’t making unbelievable plays, consistently, throughout every game they played, they just didn’t have the playmakers at other positions or the play calling needed to make the best of their bad situation.


How can the Colts get more good out of Wentz’s athleticism?

The good is there, and it is really good. He’s not Lamar Jackson but considering the living statue that is Philip Rivers and the blazing 4.9-second speed showcased by Jacoby Brissett, Carson Wentz might as well be. How can the team limit the negative plays?

The easiest thing the Colts can do is give him some help. The Indy offensive line, assuming they find an answer at left tackle, is light years beyond the Eagles front five from a season ago. The Indy receivers feature talented young players but need to add a piece or two to really be considered a good unit, either way, Michael Pittman Jr. alone is better than any healthy receiver Wentz threw to last season.

Putting talent around him is important but it can’t be everything, right?

Wentz made those very athletic mistakes, in no small part, due to feeling the pressure of having to win games mostly on his own. Now that the talent around him will be better, he’s going to have to learn to trust those players to do their jobs. He’s going to have to re-learn that it’s not all on him to win games. He needs to learn when his athleticism can keep a play alive and when it’s a hopeless endeavor. He’s going to have to be more willing to throw the ball away and live for the next down.

He’s going to need someone who can convince him to do all of those things.

Frank Reich will have plenty of work to do.