The Indianapolis Colts have dropped yet another season-opening game, losing 28-16 to the Seattle Seahawks. While it was an ugly loss for the Colts as a team, quarterback Carson Wentz was far from the biggest problem.
In his debut with the Colts, Wentz completed 25 of 38 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns. He also had four rushes for 23 yards, and he was sacked three times in the game.
With Wentz having a promising first start with the team, I decided to renew the Mechanics of Carson Wentz series for the regular season. After each game, I will dive into how Wentz played, focusing mostly on his mechanics.
If you are interested in reading back on the offseason series, click this link here.
The two biggest concerns from Wentz's tape a year ago were his struggles with setting the hallway and his inconsistencies with proper sequencing when throwing the ball.
While he still had some issues with setting the hallway, more on that later, I think he took major steps forward with his sequencing. One obvious point of emphasis was getting Wentz to keep his front half closed and for him to stop dragging his front foot out wide when throwing.
By keeping his front foot forward and closed, Wentz was able to generate more power and hip rotation on his passes. The result was Wentz being able to hit some tight window throws accurately. On the touchdown pass to Zach Pascal, Wentz drove the ball effortlessly between two defenders. A big reason for that is because he kept his base tight, and drove his hips through the pass.
Here is an example of what would happen last year with Wentz. Notice how he pulls that front foot to the left and forces his upper body to do all the work as he tries to generate velocity on his pass.
Now looking back at the game from this Sunday, and it is easy to see the improvements in this area. Wentz's front foot comes forward, which keeps his front half closed, and he is able to generate enough power and velocity to drive this ball on the deep dig route to Michael Strachan.
The other big positive that I saw on film was that Wentz was more active in resetting his feet to create on-platform throws. He missed on his alignment at times, but he didn't throw across his body or off-platform nearly as much as he would last year in Philadelphia.
This is a good example of what I'm talking about. Wentz works back down to his checkdown on this play after looking up the seam. Last year, he had the tendency of not resetting his feet when coming back to the checkdown, which led to some overthrows on relatively easy passes. Here, Wentz quickly resets before hitting the checkdown with an accurate pass.
Just the effort to properly align and set his feet on sideline throws was good to see on Sunday. Wentz wasn't taking any throw for granted, and he didn't default to lazy mechanics on simple throws. This is a quick, one-step drop, but Wentz still sets his feet to the quick sideline throw.
While this isn't typically a praise-worthy type of moment, just seeing Wentz get this fundamentally basic principle down was good to see. There were issues on even these types of throws last year in Philadelphia.
Areas to Improve
As I mentioned earlier, Wentz did still struggle with setting the hallway. Part of this may be unfamiliarity with the receivers and how fast they get to certain spots, but this issue did lead to some slightly missed throws.
On one of the biggest plays of the game, Wentz nearly missed the pass due to being misaligned. This is a beautiful play-call to free up Parris Campbell on the deep crosser off of play-action. Wentz is a little late with this throw, and sets more to the middle of the field rather than to where Campbell is running. This leads to Wentz lofting the pass a bit, which gives the safety time to close and hit Campbell as he touches the ball.
Campbell makes a great catch to keep the big play, but Wentz not getting a ton of velocity on this pass is likely due to him undersetting this pass to the right.
The other issue I noticed was that Wentz did look a little jumpy in the pocket, even if he wasn't pressured right away. Part of this is understandable, considering this is the first game action of the year for Wentz and the type of pressure he was under in Philadelphia a season ago.
This isn't necessarily an alarming development, but it is one to monitor in the next few weeks. He makes a nice throw on this play, but he does have happy feet at the top of his drop and begins to panic a bit before the pressure is a threat.
This was a positive game overall for Wentz, and I was happy to see some real improvements in his mechanics after last year. While I wouldn't call this a phenomenal start by any means, it was certainly one that is on the right track.
One area that I really want to see Wentz take a big step forward against the Los Angeles Rams next week is in his aggressiveness. He did pull back on a few throws that he could/should have made. These are the two that I'm mostly talking about, but there were a few other plays left on the field on Sunday as well.
Wentz has to be more confident pulling the trigger going forward, but I do expect that to improve with more reps during the year.
As for the loss, it really is hard to pin this one on Wentz. He performed adequately, the rest of the team ultimately laid an egg in week one (per usual). I think this quote from Adam Dedeaux, Wentz's trainer, best sums up this best weekend:
"There are some guys who transcend all of that. Some guys can’t though. You have to control what you can control and the supporting cast is a big part of what you can’t control."
Wentz looked fine on Sunday, now it is up to the rest of the team to step up going forward. Hopefully, if/when the rest of the team plays up to expectation, Wentz can also elevate his play and win some game for the Colts.
Follow Zach on Twitter @ZachHicks2.