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Wentzday: Colts’ QB Delivers When it Counts vs. 49ers

Carson Wentz had some questionable decision-making throughout the game but made big plays at the right time to lead the Colts to victory in San Francisco. (Video via Indianapolis Colts YouTube)

Before this weekend, I had never heard of the term “bomb cyclone” before. Sounds pretty ominous, right?

Well, this was what the Indianapolis Colts had to play through in their win against the San Francisco 49ers. With torrential downpours throughout the entirety of the game (and being at the game myself, that’s putting it nicely – not sure I’ve ever been that wet without going swimming), the Colts battled through the elements and overwhelmed the 49ers by a score of 30-18.

With those weather conditions, it was going to be tough to establish a consistent passing game. The Colts and quarterback Carson Wentz certainly did not light it up through the air but were still able to be productive. Wentz finished the game going 17-of-26 (65.4%) for 150 yards and two touchdowns. The performance was nothing flashy, and certainly had its fair share of questionable throws, but Wentz and the Colts offense made plays when needed to get the victory.

On this week’s installment of “Wentzday” on Horseshoe Huddle, we will be taking a little different approach as we review the game film. It’s very hard to judge various aspects of playing quarterback when the conditions are what they were, so we will be taking a closer look at the intangibles, such as Wentz’s decision-making and the plays he made in the clutch to help get the victory.

Wentz + Pittman = Dangerous

We’ve watched the connection between Wentz and second-year wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. grow as the year has gone on it. It’s safe to say that the confidence Wentz has in Pittman has never been higher.

Our first clip shows all of the catches by Pittman from Sunday’s game. Wentz went right to Pittman on two crucial third-down plays and gave his receiver a chance on a ball that inevitably iced the game for the Colts. These types of catches and conversions are exactly why the Colts drafted Pittman in 2020.

Pittman is showing that he can be a No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL, and Wentz knows that he just needs to give his receiver a chance to come down with it. These types of connections are dangerous for opposing defenses, and they will need to be aware of where Pittman is at all times. Otherwise, Wentz will be getting him the ball.

Good Decision-Making

There were plenty of times where Wentz made great decisions on the field that helped the Colts gain positive yardage. One area of this was the continued use of the deep ball.

It’s not hard to imagine teams shying away from the deep passing game in monsoon-like conditions. Not the Colts. Wentz continued to throw it deep to his receivers, and the 49ers had no interest in legally guarding it. Instead, the Niners seemed to grab or run into the receivers every time a deep ball was thrown, causing a defensive pass interference call. Free yards for Indy.

Wentz also did a stellar job in the RPO game on Sunday. He consistently fooled the defense with his fakes and made the correct reads. The touchdown to tight end Mo Alie-Cox below shows exactly that.

While the penalty yardage won’t show up in the stat sheet, and not all of the RPOs ended in passes or big gains, Wentz saw an opportunity with both and took advantage when he could. In a game where yards and positive plays were hard to come by, you’ll take it any chance you get.

Bad Decision-Making

While the Colts came out with the victory, this was Wentz’s worst game in terms of bad decision-making. Too many times he put the ball in harm’s way and it could have ended in disaster.

This first clip shows all of the throws that could’ve, and probably should’ve, been intercepted by the 49ers. These throws definitely should not be made in the rain, and I’d argue most shouldn’t be attempted in dry conditions either. While Wentz did not get intercepted, he’s lucky he didn’t and must use this as a learning experience to continue to be careful with the football.

This next play is inexcusable, in my opinion. Colts have second-and-goal from the four-yard line when Wentz steps up in the pocket and tries to toss a shovel pass over linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair’s head. Instead, the wet ball is knocked out of Wentz’s hands by defensive tackle Kentavius Street right into Al-Shaair’s hands.

I understand that Wentz is the type of player that has some hero-ball in him and will make wild plays from time to time. I also understand that maybe in dry conditions, there is a different outcome. But that was not the case, and turning the ball over in the red zone when you are trailing is never a good play. Just because Wentz makes great plays at times with his playmaking ability does not mean he is above criticism when the play ends badly, and Wentz himself would agree.

While there were moments of poor decision-making by Wentz, this is a great learning experience for him. Wentz has mostly made great decisions this year and protected the football. I don’t see this as something to be alarmed about, but instead something Wentz can use to learn from and get better.

Clutch Runs

Some of the most important plays that Wentz made on Sunday were with his legs. We are finally starting to see the mobility come back into his game, and it’s something that can be used as a weapon in the Colts offense.

Below are the two most important runs of the night by Wentz. He once again fakes the handoff to running back Jonathan Taylor to perfection and scurries around cornerback Emmanuel Moseley to give the Colts the lead. This will add another element to the Colts’ offense, particularly in the red zone.

The second run shows Wentz climbing up in the pocket and converting for the first down on second-and-fifteen. Nothing flashy, but just the ability to pick up yardage with his legs when nothing is available is big for the Colts.

I love seeing this aspect come back into Wentz’s game. It opens things up for the offense, and teams will need to account for the fact that Wentz can take off and extend drives. Just another example Wentz is coming back to full health.

Final Assessment

It was certainly a shaky performance by Wentz, but he made the clutch plays when it was needed to give the Colts their third win in the last four games. If Wentz can clean up some of his decision-making in certain circumstances, the Colts will be just fine.

Wentz has a shot at redeeming himself in a monster matchup with the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. Wentz was a shell of himself when these teams met the first time around. Now at full health, as well as the likelihood guard Quenton Nelson and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton will be playing, Wentz will be able to give it his all against the leaders of the AFC South.

The Colts are in a must-win situation if they want to have any shot at the division crown. We’ll see if Wentz and company can deliver once again.

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Have thoughts on the overall assessment of Carson Wentz coming out of the Week 7 matchup against the 49ers? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel!

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