According to NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks, the Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback and head coaching tandem of Carson Wentz and Frank Reich is one of the league’s duos that is ‘under the most pressure’ heading into the 2021 season—behind only the Los Angeles Rams and Baltimore Ravens own pairs respectively:
3. Indianapolis Colts
Carson Wentz and Frank Reich
Perhaps a change of scenery and a familiar voice will help Wentz recapture the magic that made him an MVP front-runner with the Eagles in 2017. The veteran quarterback steps into a Super Bowl-ready offense in Indianapolis, with a beefy line and an underrated set of perimeter playmakers boasting big-play potential. In addition, Wentz is supported by an elite defense that stymies opponents and easy scoring chances with turnovers. If Reich — who served as Wentz’s offensive coordinator in Philadelphia in 2016 and ‘17 — can get the veteran quarterback to embrace his role as a game manager on a team that is built to make a run, the Colts could surge to the top of the AFC as the most complete squad in the league.
Clearly by trading a 2021 third round pick and presumably a 2022 first round pick (*conditional), the Colts took a major leap of faith that by being reunited with Reich, Wentz can regain his prior 2017 NFL All-Pro form or at the very least least, fairly close to it.
The two shared great success that special 2017 season, when with Reich as his offensive coordinator in Philly, Wentz threw for 33 touchdowns to 7 interceptions for the then surging 11-2 Eagles before his breakout star season abruptly ended because of a season-ending torn ACL.
When going right, Wentz is a dynamic playmaker with dual-threat ability, utilizing his strong arm deep and ability to extend plays with his legs. With Reich mentoring him again, the hope is he’ll clean up some bad habits mechanically and get his swagger/confidence back—tapping into the talent and potential that once made him a bonafide NFL MVP candidate.
Still only 28 years old, the former 2nd overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft could be poised for a strong bounce back season during his debut campaign with the Colts.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but Reich, as a former NFL quarterback himself, may know what truly makes Wentz tick better than almost anyone—and the two will look to rekindle their old magic together in Indianapolis.
What’s interesting here is that Brooks makes no mention of 2nd-year rising star rusher Jonathan Taylor and the Colts’ loaded backfield for Wentz to heavily lean upon, as well as the labeling of Wentz as a necessary ‘game manager’ next season.
Maybe I’m blowing that potentially demeaning passing label out of proportion, but I don’t think the Colts gave up likely what amounts to a future first round pick and more for Wentz to be a ‘game manager’ in the Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson quarterback caretaker role of old.
Wentz has to be smarter, cleaner mechanically, more confident, and get rid of the football faster than he showed last season—when he clearly struggled and it led to his surprising exit from Philadelphia, but the Colts are also going to expect him to be able to create and make plays behind center himself ‘from scratch’.
You don’t give up a future round pick and extra to have someone simply hand the ball off and check down to make ordinary/routine plays—without the possibility for much more.
For one, the Colts don’t project to have a historically dominant defense like the Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl winning teams where all Wentz must do is ‘manage’, complete ordinary passes, and not make critical mistakes.
It’s a strong all-around roster, but the Colts defense isn’t that elite cream of the crop unit, and the offense doesn’t have a strong enough supporting cast to simply carry Wentz.
The Colts expect Carson to make plays next season, and while both Wentz and Reich are under pressure to make it work (as it can be only a two-year contract commitment to Wentz—if needed), I think there’s real reason for optimism by the pair being reunited again.
The Colts expect more from Wentz than being a ‘game manager’, but at the same time, he doesn’t have to necessarily regain his complete MVP caliber form (although the Colts would gladly take it)—as ascending into a Top 12 or so starting NFL quarterback again would be a major win for Indianapolis. Putting them in line for a potential deep playoff run in the process.