This three part series will look at everything regarding Carson Wentz, breaking down his strong early years, his bad recent form and then his new start in Indianapolis.
Strong Offensive Line
The Colts have one of the strongest offensive lines in the NFL, led by perennial All-Pro player Quenton Nelson. The offensive line as a whole has had one of the lowest adjusted sack rates over the past few seasons, ranking in the top 10 in 2018, 2019 and 2020. It’s worth noting that in each of those seasons, the Colts offensive line ranked better than the Eagles offensive line in that telling stat. Pro Football Focus has the Colts rated as one of the best offensive lines in football heading into the 2021-22 season.
The reality is, the Colts have a lot more talent up front than Philly does. Besides Nelson, Braden Smith is one of the best right tackles in football and just received a massive deal thta pays him like one. While the Eagles also have a great right tackle (who has missed time due to injury), they don’t have as strong of an interior offensive line as the Colts do. The unit of Nelson-Kelly-Glowinski is stronger than that of Seumelo-Kelce-Brooks, two of which are on the wrong side of 30 and have battled many injuries over the past few years.
The beauty of the Colts’ offensive line is they stick together and haven’t missed much time due to injury. Kelly has missed 1 game in the last two seasons, Glowinski and Nelson have missed none and Smith has missed two games in that same stretch. Anything can happen in a given season, but if you’re projecting, this is one of, if not the most, healthiest and consistent offensive lines in the NFL.
The only question mark comes at left tackle where Eric Fisher will be the left tackle for the 2nd half of the season (barring any unforeseen incidents) and the Colts will have to roll with a backup caliber offensive tackle in Sam Tevi. Tevi hasn’t battled too many harsh injuries in his career and has only missed 4 games in the last 2 seasons, but he’s clearly a step behind the 4 other offensive linemen in terms of talent and understanding of the Colts’ offensive system. Besides that, this is as good an offensive line to play behind and they’re all under 30 years old.
A Talented Receiving Core
This group has plenty of upside. TY Hilton can still have flashes of brilliance, but it’s clear his best days are behind him. With that being said, it would shock no one if he hit 1000 yards and 70+ catches this season.
The real potential for this group lies in Michael Pittman Jr and Parris Campbell. Pittman had a respectable rookie season with 40 catches and 503 receiving yards. It’s a good season for a rookie, but when you consider the three receivers taken before and after him in the draft all had similar or much better seasons (Jefferson, Chasepool and Higgins being incredible), it’s time for him to prove that he’s one of the best receivers in the class and that will require him hitting the 1000 yard mark. He has the talent as he is a good route runner, has great length/reach and good hands, which makes him a perfect #2 receiver for the Colts’ offense. He should be the Colts receiver with the most catches on the team considering his style of game is similar to that of a possession receiver.
Parris Campbell, on the other hand, has tremendous speed and has big play potential at any time. Before he tore his MCL and PCL early last season, Campbell showed real flashes of great play and looked like he was going to be a very good #3 receiver for the Colts. He has had plenty of time to recover from the injury and had a full offseason with Wentz as his quarterback. If he can use his speed to take the lid off of defenses, his presence alone will stretch things out and give more opportunities underneath for Pittman, Hilton and the tight ends. He doesn’t need to have a 1000 yard season or 75 catches to have a serious impact because his athleticism and speed will feed others.
Zach Pascal will also provide a security blanket and a very good option as the #4 receiver, as will Jack Doyle who can become a slightly lesser version of 2017-2019 Zach Ertz. Mo Alie-Cox and rookie Kylen Granson are athletic and big bodied tight ends who also have good potential as short to intermediate options.
This group isn’t short of talent, but many will need to take steps forward and offer consistency to Wentz who has been void of that for the last few years.
Fresh Environment & Full Reset
This explanation has nothing to do with football. Oftentimes, a change of scenery and a new environment is all it takes for someone to return to a good place, personally and professionally. Indianapolis is a lot less hostile than Philadelphia is in terms of their sports fandom and the media isn’t as harsh. Flying more under the radar could be exactly what he needs, plus an escape from a negative atmosphere doesn’t hurt either. A new chance and a new start could help renew his confidence.
Reunion with his Old Coach
Wentz came into the NFL and played his best ball with Frank Reich as his offensive coordinator. He will also be reunited with his old QB coach Press Taylor and will also be around Mike Groh, the old WR coach of the Eagles when Wentz was there. There will be familiarity with the offensive system, which mixes in a few different concepts that involve short, rhythmic passing mixed with play actions and spread concepts. It’s more than that, but Reich’s offense doesn’t go by one name like a West Coast offense or Erdhardt-Perkins, so that’s the best I can describe it in one sentence. Nevertheless, the learning curve will be much shorter for him and he’ll have a calming influence in Reich. Reich is more of a player’s coach than Pederson, which should also favour him.
Everything is pointing up for Wentz and he is in a great position to succeed with Indianapolis.