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Wentzday: The Bad from Colts QB Carson Wentz in 2021

While Wentz had some bright spots, the lows from his season as the starter in Indy are what cause many to question his future with the team.

It has been 17 days since that fateful day in Jacksonville, where the Indianapolis Colts completed a collapse of epic proportions.

Falling to the Jaguars that day left the Colts out of the playoff field after having a 98% chance just two weeks prior.

If you think the Colts have gotten over that loss, just look at owner Jim Irsay’s tweets. It’s safe to say it still isn’t sitting well over at West 56th Street.

Much of the conversation since the season ended has surrounded quarterback Carson Wentz. Wentz went 322-of-516 (62.4%) for 3,563 yards with 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions on the season. While his numbers aren’t fantastic, he ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in terms of touchdowns and tied a career-best in interceptions.

However, there were many times this season that when the game was on the line, Wentz could not deliver and give the Colts the victory. Indy was 2-5 in one-possession games in 2021, which isn’t good enough for where this team wants to go. The inconsistency from Wentz certainly played a role in this.

Last week on “Wentzday,” we talked about the good from Wentz during the 2021 season. This week we will take a look at the bad and the main reasons why it’s still undecided whether he will be QB1 for the Colts in 2022.

Inconsistent Mechanics

Coming into the 2021 season, there were already questions about Wentz’s mechanics. They had fallen off a cliff at the end of his time in Philadelphia, and many wondered if he could improve. While his mechanics looked much better at the beginning of the season, it seemed like he fell back into old habits as the season went along.

This was especially evident when under pressure. The first clip is the misses Wentz had throughout the game against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 16. When you watch the throws, you can see Wentz rushing his throws and not getting his feet set correctly, leading to off-target throws.

This was also prevalent against the Jaguars in Week 18. Once again, Wentz rushes many of these throws and does not get his feet pointed where they need to be, leading to misses all around the field. The pocket is not always going to be clean, and Wentz will need to be able to deliver good balls under duress.

Wentz’s mechanics were always a concern coming in, and after seeing them deteriorate throughout the season, it’s fair to question whether they can improve enough to be a consistent quarterback in this league.

Holding On To The Ball

Wentz also had trouble holding on to the ball too long throughout the season. This was a stark contrast to Philip Rivers last season, who got rid of the ball at one of the quickest rates in the NFL. Per NFL Next Gen Stats, Wentz’s average time to throw was 2.83 seconds in 2021, tied for 25th in the league. Rivers posted an average time to throw of 2.52 seconds in 2020, sixth in the league.

While three-tenths of a second may not seem like a long time, it can be the difference between a dump-off for a gain and a sack for a loss. A perfect example of this was against the Tennessee Titans in Week 3. On both of these sacks, Wentz has an open receiver on the crosser and doesn’t look their way. He holds onto the ball and takes the sack each time.

This was also a problem against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 12. The Bucs tried to bring pressure on Wentz to make him throw the ball before he wanted to and make quick decisions. Numerous sack fumbles did not help Wentz this year either and cost the Colts dearly at times.

Holding on to the ball too long and not reading defenses quick enough got Wentz into a lot of trouble this year. He consistently missed his check-downs and didn’t take the easy ones. Colts general manager Chris Ballard told Wentz after the season to “make the layups,” and it’s something he must do a much better job at moving forward.

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Hero Ball Mentality

The “hero ball” mentality that Wentz has can be a blessing and a curse. It can lead to miraculous plays or plays that end in tragedy. It was always going to be a fine line for the Colts’ quarterback, but unfortunately. the tragic end of the spectrum reared its ugly head way too often.

The play that sticks out in everyone’s mind is the ugly pick-six against the Titans in Week 8. The score was tied, and the Colts had a chance to win the game at the end. Instead of throwing the ball away, Wentz tries to throw it left-handed as he’s being brought down, and it’s returned for a touchdown.

This play against the San Francisco 49ers during Week 7 was much of the same. Deep in the red zone, Wentz tries to do too much with the ball and gets it poked out of his hands in very wet conditions. While the Colts won the game, this could have been a huge turning point in the game for the 49ers.

Wentz believes that he can make something happen on every play and that is a big reason why he gets into trouble. It’s okay to throw the ball away and live for the next down. Otherwise, plays like this interception against the New England Patriots in Week 15 happen and shift the entire momentum of the game.

Final Assessment

While Carson Wentz did plenty of good for the Colts this year, there were plenty of bad moments as well. From his inconsistencies with his mechanics, to holding the ball too long, to the bone-headed plays that made you want to pull your hair out, Wentz was far too inconsistent this season and cost his team in big spots.

This quote from Ballard at his season-ending press conference really sticks out when talking about the Colts’ quarterback position.

“You’ve got to get stability at the quarterback position,” Ballard said. “And that position has to play up to his potential to help the team win. Don’t get me wrong, I ain’t blaming all of this on Carson. I’m not. Because everybody else has to do their jobs too. But the hyper-importance of that position, it’s real. You have to get consistency there. The years we’ve gotten it, have been pretty good, and we thought we had it until the end of the season.”

With Wentz as the quarterback, you have to wonder if consistency can ever be achieved. His play this year showed how volatile the quarterback can be, as it seems like each week can be a different version of Wentz. The Colts aren’t looking for volatility. They want a steady quarterback who can produce week in and week out and pull the team to victory when called upon.

Has Carson Wentz played his last snap with the Colts? That remains to be seen. However, it’s no secret that the Colts need, and are demanding, more out of the quarterback position as they look to join the elites of the AFC.

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Have thoughts on the overall assessment of Carson Wentz and his weaknesses during the 2021 season? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel!


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