Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich didn’t necessarily provide incumbent starting quarterback Carson Wentz a ringing endorsement on Monday following the team’s downright embarrassing season-ending loss to the 2-14 Jacksonville Jaguars.
He was rather non-committal in his response when asked about the enigmatic quarterback:
“As far as Carson (Wentz), again, I mentioned this the other day with individuals, we loved the team we had this year. Everyone we brought in this year, we expected to play winning football. Next year’s roster will be next year’s roster,” Reich said to the media on Monday. “I’m not going to evaluate or talk about any (individual player), I don’t want to just open it up with one player, and then start talking about all of them.”
With that said, this is what Reich said about Philip Rivers at end of 2020:— Mike Wells (@MikeWellsNFL) January 10, 2022
'As I sit here right now, yes, I want Philip Rivers to be my starting quarterback next year... I think Philip still has a lot of good football [left].- Reich on Jan. 10, 2021
Different tone on Wentz https://t.co/Ehgj71l3aa
To be fair though, he did offer Wentz a stronger endorsement immediately after Sunday’s devastating loss—where he said ‘I think he’s our quarterback’:
The Colts face a bit of a conundrum on Wentz, who the team surrendered a 2022 first round pick and more in draft capital for and is due a $28.3M cap hit next season (although the Colts could potentially save $13.3M of that total cap hit if he’s cut early on this offseason).
On the surface, Wentz’s 27 touchdowns to 7 interceptions look pretty good on the season, but he significantly faded to close out the campaign—to the point, where he couldn’t be counted on in the passing game to consistently make throws, even with a clean pocket.
While he flashed the occasional brilliant throw down the stretch, more often than not, he was inaccurate, showed a lack of pocket poise, and was turnover prone—often holding the football for far too entirely long. He needs to start playing with confidence/decisiveness again, regain his lost mechanics and erase acquired bad habits, and start checking down to his underneath routes (*hitting his crossing routes consistently also wouldn’t hurt*).
From purely an athleticism standpoint, he’s a natural fit behind center in Reich’s offense with his mobility and big arm, allowing the Colts to run RPOs, play-action, and bootlegs to complement Jonathan Taylor and an oftentimes, dominant power running game.
However, it’s not necessarily a foregone conclusion he’s back with the Colts for a second tour.
More than likely, Wentz is the starter again in 2022 given the lack of clear-cut upgrades—with a weak rookie 2022 quarterback draft class and presumably limited other options. It’ll likely be a ‘make or break’ year because after 2022, when his $26.2M cap hit can completely come off the books, the Colts have far less of an incentive or financial commitment to make it work anymore going forward with Wentz.
That being said, if either the Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers or Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson could realistically become available, all bets should be off—as the Colts should heavily pursue either future Hall of Fame quarterback. Either would be a massive upgrade over Wentz and propel the Colts into instant Super Bowl contention (especially if the team could also add a dynamic wideout or tight end to pair with such an astronomical offseason addition).
That’s more than likely ‘wishful thinking’ though, and Carson Wentz will probably be the starter in 2022—even if Reich was pretty non-committal entering a critical offseason for the Colts, where tough evaluations will have to be made, none more important than at quarterback.