When the Colts acquired Carson Wentz last off-season, there was a lot to digest. Many Colts fans did not know what to expect. They asked whether Frank Reich could bring the best out of him again and if the Colts could win with Carson Wentz? The answer is not as simple as a yes or no because Carson had some things he did well and things he did not do well. Lucas Robins (@RobinsLucas on Twitter), Mason Roach (@MasRoach45 on Twitter), Sebastian Bench (@BenchSebastian on Twitter), and I (@TheRealZschank on Twitter) examined what we thought Wentz did well and where Wentz went wrong. So to kick our series off, the group answered what they expected from Wentz and whether they thought Wentz failed or met their expectations for the 2021 NFL Season.
Lucas Robins (@RobinsLucas on Twitter):
I expected Wentz to be a top 16-20 QB in the NFL and return to career averages in most of his passing statistics. He would have good enough stats to keep the Colts in playoff contention, but not quite at contention level. Playoffs & getting into it would depend on his and the rosters’ health.
Click here to view his stat projections for Wentz made last April.
Expectations are always fluid throughout the season. Based on my preseason expectations, Wentz met or exceeded mine in every basic statistical category besides attempts, completions, and yards due to a lower volume because of the emergence of the running game. He did so despite the offensive line regressing to allow the 9th highest pressure rate and Wentz being the 2nd most hit QB in the NFL in 2021. Despite not having TY Hilton or Parris Campbell for a combined 18 games, he did so. He did so despite only having five preseason practices, battling foot & ankle injuries, and having COVID limiting both his prep time for games and his physical abilities in some.
However, as the season went along, the inconsistencies were still there, and further room for development is still needed. Despite one of the lowest INT rates in the NFL, he had a league-average turnover-worthy play rate. He forced balls and plays that he shouldn’t have, often making bizarre choices like not checking down to open receivers (especially at RB), throwing left-handed, or the dreaded shovel attempts. While he was solid at preventing sacks for most of the year, he needs to learn how to not put himself in those positions as much with a quicker release by making his progressions faster and improving his pre-snap blitz recognition. He wasn’t asked to do the latter skill as often, thanks to the Eagles legendary Center, Jason Kelce. His overstriding in a clean pocket led to inconsistent accuracy, which he needs to get cleaned up.
Wentz showed that he can still be a starting level QB in the NFL but has not shown enough, especially in the final two games, to be a franchise QB. The physical tools are there, but it was clear that the technical and mental aspects of QuarterBacking need to be improved. A full offseason might do wonders, but time will tell if he is given that chance in Indy again.
Zach Schankerman (@TheRealZschank on Twitter):
I expected Carson Wentz to be an average NFL QB but flash the ability to be a top 10-12 QB in the league. I thought him reuniting with Frank Reich would be great for his career and provide him with a chance to prove that he can be a long-term answer at QB for a team. Furthermore, I thought Carson Wentz would open up the offense because Carson could make plays that Phillip couldn’t in 2020 due to Carson’s athleticism and arm talent. However, I also expected Carson Wentz to play winning football and take better care of the football due to him having better support in Indianapolis than in Philadelphia. Additionally, I felt that our run game and defense would take pressure off of him, and he would play well enough for us to win with him.
I think he met my expectations in a couple of regards. I thought his arm talent was otherworldly, and some of the passes he was able to make were jaw-dropping in a good way (and a bad way at times). I also thought his ability to extend plays was excellent. I enjoyed that he was athletic enough to add a running element to the Colts from the QB position, which helped us at times. Additionally, he was really good in the RedZone. I fully expected this because I thought his athleticism would allow Frank to be more creative in the RedZone, and that was definitely the case. There were things that Carson did differently from Phillip Rivers, but I don’t think Carson played better than Phillip.
Where Carson failed to meet my expectations was that I thought he would be able to put together a top 15-12 type of season back with Frank Reich. I thought his mechanics, ball security, and decision-making would improve tremendously with better coaching. I thought 2020 was an outlier for Wentz, and it turns out it was not. He could not process the field very well, he took too many sacks, and his mechanics were way too inconsistent, leading to a different player on each drive. Additionally, there are reports about his leadership being an issue in the locker room and his teammates not voting him captain. For example, his stance on the COVID vaccine became a distraction last year. That’s not to say his view on the COVID vaccine was right or wrong, but it was a distraction. I also thought it was pretty apparent that the team quit on him last year, watching how they interacted with him on the sidelines in the Jacksonville and Las Vegas game. Last year with Carson Wentz was a rollercoaster, and I want off of it. He simply was not good.
Seb Bench (@BenchSebastian on Twitter):
I thought Wentz would be considerably better than his final season with the Eagles but considerably worse than his 2017 form. I thought Indianapolis gave Wentz the best possible chance of success because of Frank Reich as his coach, an elite offensive line to protect him, and a strong running game to take the pressure off of him. I expected him to be a more explosive Quarterback than Phillip Rivers. Making more deep throws and being more mobile to expand Reich’s playbook but making more mistakes in the process.
For much of the season, Wentz exceeded my expectations whilst being a different Quarterback to the one I expected. The first few games were hard to judge, given Wentz’s injuries and the offensive line. Wentz looked good once the team started to find some form against Miami. He was far from perfect, as the second Tennessee game clearly showed. But he didn’t give the ball away much and consistently did enough to get the team in a position to win the game at the death. Throughout this period, I expected Wentz to throw for more yards, touchdowns, and interceptions than he actually did. I also didn’t expect the Colts’ offense to rely on Jonathan Taylor.
However, throughout his final four games of the season, Wentz was significantly worse than I expected him to be. He did have some great moments against Arizona in incredibly challenging circumstances. Against New England, he wasn’t good enough even when the rest of the team played well and was disappointing against the Raiders and Jaguars. However, it should be noted that the entire team was disappointing against Jacksonville. Most concerning was Wentz’s inability to read defenses when they stacked the box to stop Jonathan Taylor. Having said all this, I did expect Wentz’s weapons outside of Taylor and Pittman to be significantly more effective than they turned out to be. I wasn’t expecting a return to 2018 form for TY Hilton, but after #BringTYHome, I did think he could get roughly 600 yards and a number of touchdowns. I also expected the offensive line to play much better in pass protection.
Mason Roach (@MasRoach45 on Twitter):
In my opinion, I thought Carson Wentz was going to have an improved season compared to his abysmal performance in 2020. I expected Carson Wentz to lead the Colts to the playoffs and improve the Colts’ passing attack performance. My thought process was that Wentz would play with a stout offensive line and have the opportunity to thrive because of the extra time in the pocket. With the type of protection given by the Colts’ offensive line the year before, I hoped that Wentz would prove the doubters wrong with a better overall offense.
Wentz exceeded my expectations in some areas and was underwhelming in other areas. Overall, Wentz exceeded in limiting his turnovers and erratic plays throughout the season. As the season progressed, he made some big plays and helped the team win some key games. In saying that, Wentz also had plenty of subpar games with terrible decision-making. His decision-making was his greatest improvement this season and still his biggest weakness. Wentz’s costly fumbles in critical games against teams like the Ravens, Buccaneers, and Jaguars is one of the main reasons why the Colts did not make the playoffs. All in all, Wentz showed glimpses of being the ”guy” for the Colts, but his stubbornness as a decision-maker is what caused him not to exceed my expectations this season.