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Wentzday: Breaking Down Colts QB’s Performance vs. Seahawks

In his first start for the Colts, Carson Wentz showed plenty of promise despite limited preparation with his new team in training camp.

The long-anticipated debut of Carson Wentz in an Indianapolis Colts’ uniform finally came on Sunday.

For all the drama surrounding Wentz this preseason – including foot surgery and a stint on the COVID-19 list – he trotted out there and played every offensive snap for the Colts against the Seattle Seahawks. The result was nowhere close to what the team had hoped for as the Seahawks left Lucas Oil Stadium with a 28-16 win.

Despite the loss, the Colts have plenty to be encouraged about from Wentz as the season begins.

Today is “Wentzday,” a weekly series here on Horseshoe Huddle where we will be taking a look back at Wentz’s performance each week and analyze both the good and the bad. We’ll also give some areas where Wentz can be successful against the Colts’ next opponent.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the film.

Wentz to Pascal Connection

It was evident on Sunday that Wentz and wide receiver Zach Pascal have started to form a connection on the field. With T.Y. Hilton sidelined for several weeks due to a neck injury, Pascal will need to step up to help fill the void until Hilton comes back. He gave a great effort on Sunday.

The first touchdown from Wentz displayed a great use of his eyes to freeze the defense. Wentz stares down Seahawks linebacker Jordyn Brooks in the middle of the field until the last second when Pascal makes his break. By then it’s too late and Wentz throws a rocket to Pascal for the score. The ball is a little behind Pascal, but he makes a good adjustment for the catch.

The second touchdown displays Wentz’s ability to put touch on the ball. The Seahawks are bringing a heavy blitz that leaves Pascal against cornerback Tre Flowers one-on-one. The Colts pick up the blitz and Wentz lobs the ball up for Pascal to run underneath it. Great throw.

Wentz seems to be looking Pascal’s way early and often. Look for this to continue as Wentz gets comfortable in the Colts’ offense.

More Deep Shots

One of the things echoed by coaches and players alike during camp was Wentz’s ability to throw a great deep ball. The Colts haven’t had a quarterback with that strength since Andrew Luck, and they will certainly be looking to use that to their advantage.

The Seahawks did a good job on Sunday of making sure the deep routes were covered and forced the Colts to dink and dunk down the field in most cases. But the Colts did have some opportunities to take their shots.

One such play came in the second quarter to receiver Parris Campbell. Wentz checked to a play-action fake, which brought Seahawks safety Jamal Adams down towards the line of scrimmage. With Adams biting on the fake, the middle of the field was wide open for a nice, 24-yard gain.

This next clip is one Wentz probably would like to have back. On 3rd-and-6 in the second quarter, Wentz has another opportunity for a shot as tight end Mo Alie-Cox is matched up one-on-one with a linebacker. At 6’5”, 267, you love to see that matchup on Alie-Cox.

However, Wentz misses long on the throw and it falls incomplete. This could be related to timing since the two haven’t worked together much, but you’d like to see a better back-shoulder throw from Wentz here. Tough throw, but a missed opportunity.

Taking deep shots down the field will be more of a staple in the Colts’ offense than it has been in recent years because of Wentz’s ability to throw it deep. The Colts will want to take more of these opportunities when they are given the chance, and Wentz will need to be sharp to take advantage.

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An Abundance of Pressure

Unfortunately for Wentz, his offensive line did not do much to help him out Sunday. The Colts’ offensive line played one of their worst games in years, giving up three sacks and allowing Wentz to be hit 10 times. Many of the Colts’ struggles on offense were due to the fact Wentz did not have adequate time to throw.

This clip shows the first two sacks on Wentz by the Seahawks. On the first sack, pressure is immediately in his face and Wentz has to tuck the ball with an open tight end Kylen Granson at the first down marker.

The second sack is more of the same as left tackle Julién Davenport gets blown up, causing Wentz to be sacked before he can hit tight end Jack Doyle across the middle for the first. Both of the sacks came on third down and killed drives deep in Colts’ territory, setting up the Seahawks with great field position.

The third sack comes on a crucial fourth-down late in the game as the Colts are trying to come back. This play is filled with bad execution by all parties involved.

Wentz starts out looking to his left and starts to make his way back to the right where receiver Michael Pittman Jr. is wide open. Wentz probably gets it to Pittman for the first down if right tackle Braden Smith isn’t tossed to the ground like a rag doll. Wentz is wrapped up and the Colts turn it over.

When looking at the beginning of the play, Wentz seems to have running back Nyheim Hines open in the flat. Wentz should probably think about letting it rip to Hines and trusting that he’ll pick up the couple yards after the catch to get the first.

Final Assessment

Overall, I think Wentz played pretty well considering he missed most of training camp and the Colts’ offensive line did not do him any favors. Wentz looked in command of the offense and did not look like he was trying to force things. Some mistakes need to be cleaned up, but you have to be encouraged by how Wentz looked on Sunday against a tough Seahawks defense.

It doesn’t get any easier for Wentz and the Colts’ offense as the Los Angeles Rams come to Lucas Oil Stadium in Week 2. The Rams had the No. 1 ranked defense in the NFL a season ago, and are coming off a dominant performance over the Chicago Bears.

With NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald in the middle of the Rams defensive line, Wentz will need to be aware of the pressure coming up the middle and make sure he does not hold on to the ball for long periods of time. Quick passes and RPOs will be something to look for on Sunday.

Another area Wentz can use to his advantage is bootleg plays after play-action. Head coach Frank Reich can use these play calls to get the defense going one way while Wentz looks for shots down the field. With All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey roaming the secondary for the Rams, those shots are usually limited.

Wentz had a solid start for the Colts in Week 1, but he will need to be much sharper if the Colts look to pull out a win in Week 2.

Have thoughts on Wentz's performance? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel!


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