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Film Room: Carson Wentz, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly- Part 2: Passing

Philadelphia Eagles v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

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 ability as a passer.


Overview

A season ago Carson Wentz showed that he has a strong arm and can throw with accuracy. He made every throw you need a professional quarterback to make at all levels of the field. Wentz’s downfield accuracy was good and his multiple deep attempts per game were thrown with ease, a departure for Colts fans who watched Philip Rivers put everything he had into the deep shots he attempted a season ago. Wentz also demonstrated proper ball placement, keeping passes away from defenders and thrown to safe spots on the field. With that said, Wentz was nowhere near consistent as a passer. His throwing mechanics varied from play to play and even though he could throw with excellent accuracy and perfect placement, he missed easy throws and threw balls into traffic regularly. We’ll take a look at all of it in more detail below.


The Good

These throws are as good as it gets

At times Wentz makes some jaw-dropping throws. Given a clean pocket and a deep receiver one on one, his long ball is fantastic. When at his best, his arm strength and accuracy are both almost as good as you can ask for, there’s nothing you could realistically ask for from your quarterback that Wentz can’t do. His ability is obvious but it is hardly consistent.

We’ve all heard how bad Wentz looked in 2020 and while I’ve come to believe that has been overstated, it’s not completely without merit. Wentz’s struggles were real and we’ll take a look at some of those next.


The Bad

Inaccuracy is a problem

Wentz’s inaccurate passes aren’t hard to find on tape. It’s true, some of his inaccurate throws can be explained due to pressure or trying to avoid another defender in space but I can’t ignore how often he threw from a clean pocket to a fairly open receiver only to have the ball miss its target, badly.

It’s true that Wentz’s throwing mechanics are often sloppy but even when he does manage to display a picture-perfect windup and throwing motion and seemingly good footwork, his balls don’t always hit their intended target.

At this point, I feel it’s important to point out that I am not a quarterbacking mechanics expert. I know the basics but someone like Tom House or Jeff Christiansen, someone who has spent years of their life focusing on every aspect of the human throwing motion, can watch someone throw and see details that I would overlook. When I read that back to myself, it seems like it should be obvious but I feel the need to include this disclaimer all the same.

Wentz’s accuracy is often bad but I can’t always atribuite it to anything obvious. There are other times though, that his inaccuracy is very clearly caused by poor mechanics. The same poor mechanics you’ve heard so much about are real and obvious to anyone who has ever seen a good quarterback throw a pass. I have to say these next clips are absolutely ugly.


The Ugly

Going to need a mechanic

All of these clips have one thing in common: Carson Wentz’s footwork is a mess. In the first and third clips, he doesn’t step into his throw. In the second clip he seems to have forgotten that his feet are supposed to do a very specific thing when he throws a football and it results in a chaotic mess. The last clip is less obvious but his throwing stride is elongated and as a result, he hangs the ball up in traffic. Luckily he didn’t get his receiver killed and the ball was caught, not tipped, and intercepted.

A few other small details I noticed:

Wentz’s mechanical issues have been and are ugly, but they’re not always present either. At times Wentz looks like a great quarterback and then two plays later he looks like he’s throwing a football for the first time in years.

This might be the ugliest aspect of Carson Wentz’s game, the good news is, that despite it being bad it’s not hopeless.


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

Just like in my examination of Wentz’s athletic ability the biggest thing the Colts can do is surround him with more talent than he’s had in the past. Since that doesn’t seem to be a difficult task, the team is already well on its way to doing just that.

Beyond that, perhaps Frank Reich can convince Wentz to trust him, trust his teammates, and to know when to play the design of each called play and when to create plays on his own. Reich has to do everything he can to make Wentz as comfortable as possible with the offensive system and what he is being asked to do. Due to their experience together, I believe Frank Reich is well aware of how to do this for Wentz. Even if he can make him a more confident player, Frank Reich nor the rest of the Indianapolis Colts completely fix Carson Wentz’s mechanical issues.

At some level these issues have to be fixed by Carson Wentz. The Colts front office and coaching staff can make it as easy as possible, and I have faith they will, but Wentz needs to put in a lot of hard work establishing a more consistent throwing motion. He obviously can throw with proper form but working with a famed QB guru like Tom House, whose client list includes nearly every good quarterback of more than a decade, could go a long way to building on the positive that already exists and working to ensure the breakdowns in his mechanics happen less and less often.