There were many common patterns during Carson Wentz’s last season with the Philadelphia Eagles. One of those was to constantly feel the need to play “hero ball.”
Why was that, exactly? Part of the reason was due to, at times, Wentz’s carelessness with the football. But Wentz’s porous play stems from more than just his mistakes, though. Philadelphia’s offensive line was one of the worst units in the entire league last year, rating a measly 19th overall, according to Pro Football Focus’s rankings.
PFF also noted that, “Eleven different offensive lineman played at least 50 snaps for Philadelphia this season.”
That’s a recipe for disaster, and disaster it was as Wentz tied with Broncos QB Drew Lock for the most interceptions last season with 15. It’s hard for any NFL QB to win under ideal circumstances, and Wentz’s circumstances were far less than that last season.
Wentz is going from — statistically speaking — the worst offensive line in the NFL; to arguably the best in the league. The Colts’ offensive line surrendered only 21 total sacks last season, which should alleviate some of the pressure Wentz is facing for the upcoming season.
Not only does Indy return four of their five starters from last season, but they also brought in Pro Bowl left tackle Eric Fisher to help protect Wentz’s blindside in place of the retired Anthony Castonzo.
After having the worst statistical season of his career, Wentz will perhaps have the greatest opportunity to resurrect and completely redefine his career; and it starts with being reunited with his former offensive coordinator in Philadelphia, Frank Reich.
What should also help the new Colts’ QB is the amount of weapons he’ll have to work with. While some may not consider them ‘household names,’ Indy’s wide receiving, tight end and running back corps are exceptionally better than Philadelphia’s.
T.Y. Hilton can still attract double teams from opposing defensive backs, Michael Pittman Jr. looks like a star in the making, Parris Campbell, if healthy, can become one the league’s better slot receivers and Zach Pascal — who never gets the credit he deserves — is as reliable a receiver as they come, too.
Second-year back Jonathan Taylor is fresh off a season in which he ranked third in total rushing yards with 1,169, and found the end zone 11 total times. The team also brought back Marlon Mack, who, prior to tearing his Achilles in the 2020 season-opener, played a monumental role in the Colts’ offense. Mack rushed for close to 2,000 yards when healthy during his 2018 and 2019 campaigns.
Let’s not forget about Nyheim Hines, whose track-like speed and underrated pass-catching abilities can mimic that of Darren Sproles, a teammate of Wentz’s during his first few seasons with the Eagles.
The three-headed monster that is Taylor, Mack and Hines will not only help take some of the load off Wentz in the running game, but also help open up more of the play action game — which is something Wentz thrived in under Reich in 2017.
Don’t sleep on Indy’s defense, either, as they were a Top 10 ranked unit last season. The Colts ranked 11th last season with 15 total interceptions and retain all of the same secondary starters from last season as well. Their linebacking corps is set to be one of the NFL’s best, too, with All-Pro Darius Leonard and star Bobby Okereke leading the way.
One of the team’s most glaring weakness was addressed during the NFL Draft, too. Indy added two young defensive ends — pairing them with DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart — in first-round pick Kwity Paye and second-round pick Dayo Odeyingbo. The Colts are hoping the upgrades at edge and returning familiar faces, like Kemoko Turay and Tyquan Lewis, can help create game-altering plays, providing opportunities for Wentz and the offense to take advantage.
Top-to-bottom, the Colts have one of the most well-rounded rosters in the league. With that in mind, it’s up to Wentz to take advantage of the opportunity he’s been given. There’s no need to play ‘hero ball.’ Not with this roster.
Given that the NFL is in an era where QB-play is paramount, it’s time for Wentz to focus less on playing ‘hero ball’ and more on reshaping his career with what he’s inherited in Indy.
If he can do that, the Colts won’t just go far this season, but they’ll be perennial contenders for years to come.