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Wentzday: Colts’ QB Becomes Game Manager vs. Bills

While Carson Wentz’s stats weren’t eyepopping on Sunday, he was exactly the quarterback the Colts needed in their dominating performance against the Bills.

Not many people thought they would do it, but that’s just how the Indianapolis Colts like it.

The Colts stormed into Highmark Stadium on Sunday and throttled the Buffalo Bills 41-15. It was a little personal for the Colts, who had their 2020 season ended by the hands of the Bills in that very stadium last January.

By now, you’ve heard about the monster performance by Colts running back Jonathan Taylor. 32 carries, 185 yards, and four touchdowns to go along with three catches for 19 yards and another score displays the dominance by JT on Sunday.

But what about the quarterback?

For Carson Wentz, the stats do not look very impressive. Wentz was a pedestrian 11-of-20 (55%) for 106 yards and a touchdown. He also ran the ball twice for 18 yards. But as usual, stats don’t tell the full story.

“Carson (Wentz) has 100 yards passing but I told him today, he grades out A-plus,” Colts head coach Frank Reich said on Monday. “He was 11-of-20 but there were four throwaways that are good throwaways so, essentially, he was 11-of-16 when you looked at it that way. Really made a couple big-time plays, had the big-time scramble and really handled the run checks in a great way.”

On this week’s installment of “Wentzday” on Horseshoe Huddle, we’ll take a look at the film and show why Wentz’s performance may not have been earthshattering, but he delivered when called upon for the Colts on Sunday.

Touchdown JT

It’s only fitting that we start the piece with Taylor after his huge performance on Sunday. Wentz said after the game that he was appreciative to “get in on the fun with one of those (5) touchdowns,” which turned out to be Wentz’s only touchdown pass of the day.

The play is a combination of beautiful play design and great execution. It starts with almost all of the receivers funneling over to the right side of the field. Wentz helps lure the defenders to that side as well with his eyes. While this is going on, Taylor slips out into the flat on the left side and is completely wide open. Wentz goes back to the left, gets the ball to Taylor, and the rest is history.

The Colts are using Taylor much more in the passing game this year, and he has risen to the challenge. Having two backs in Taylor and Nyheim Hines, who are weapons in the passing game, is certainly a big advantage for Wentz.

Big Plays Over the Middle

It’s no secret that Taylor was able to dominant the Bills’ defense in-between the tackles. Wentz also found success going over the middle when he was given time to throw.

This first clip is a good example. A nice pocket is formed around Wentz on second-and-14, allowing Wentz to go through his reads. The quarterback finds wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. over the middle to pick up the first down. While Pittman is being guarded by Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White, one of the best corners in the league, Wentz places the ball perfectly.

The second clip is much of the same. Wentz drops back and has all day to throw, allowing him to go through his reads and find tight end Jack Doyle over the middle for the first. The play-action fake to Taylor on a day he’s dominating certainly helps too.

Wentz was able to have success over the middle because the Bills did not want to allow anything deep, but they also had to respect Taylor and try to have eyes on him at all times. This allowed for holes behind the linebackers, and Wentz took advantage.

Success on Third Down

There were multiple instances where Wentz was able to keep scoring drives alive on third down. They don’t seem too significant at the time, but looking back, these could have changed the course of the game.

One play we’re not talking about enough is the evaded sack by Wentz in the second quarter. The Colts are only up by a touchdown and facing third-and-long. A sack or loss of yardage here gives the momentum to the Bills as they try to even the score before the half.

Wentz drops back to throw but is quickly converged on by Bills defensive linemen Mario Addison and Ed Oliver. Wentz does his best Harry Houdini impersonation and somehow escapes the sack, proceeding to pick up 18 yards in the process and get the first down. Fantastic play.

This is huge because instead of the momentum shifting to the Bills, the Colts get into scoring range and add a field goal. The ensuing kickoff is fumbled, the Colts recover, and the onslaught begins.

Wentz was also able to execute on third down through the air. The Colts, like most teams, like to go to their best plays on the money down. For Indy, this means crossers and quick throws. Wentz delivers to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton on the crosser and Doyle on the quick out to the flat to pick up the first downs.

These are big-time plays in spots where the Colts needed Wentz on Sunday. He was able to execute and extend drives both through the air and on the ground. This is where the stats from Sunday may not tell the whole story.


Wentz wasn’t perfect by any means on Sunday and still had his fair share of misses. Luckily for the Colts, they did not result in turnovers or at crucial points in the game.

The clip below shows the biggest misses by Wentz. The first two are easy to explain as he was either under pressure (throw to Doyle) or had a miscommunication with his receiver (throw to tight end Mo Alie-Cox.) The last two can be better executed, as the throw to wide receiver Zach Pascal sails high and the throw to Dezmon Patmon over the middle is forced.

The throw to Patmon that was almost intercepted was the only time I saw Wentz put the ball in harm’s way. There are still some things he can clean up with his mechanics, however, that will help his accuracy on some of these misses.

Final Assessment

Carson Wentz certainly didn’t put up big numbers against the Bills, but instead became a game manager in the blowout. While this may seem like a bad thing, it’s exactly what the Colts needed. Taylor was having the best game of his career, and there was no reason to divert from what was working.

Wentz was still able to have an impact on the game. His effectiveness on third down and handling the run checks during the game sustained drives and got the Colts in the right positions. He did miss some throws that he most likely would like to have back, but I have no problems with his performance overall.

The road ahead does not get any easier this week, as the Colts take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Teams will be focusing on Taylor and doing everything they can to stop him, which means Wentz will need to be sharp and deliver when called upon.

Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles loves to bring exotic blitzes at opposing quarterbacks. It will be up to Wentz to identify where the blitzes are coming from and get rid of the ball quickly so the Bucs defense cannot take over the game.

A big matchup awaits Wentz and the Colts this week. We’ll see if they can shock the football world once again.

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Have thoughts on the overall assessment of Carson Wentz coming out of the Week 11 matchup against the Buffalo Bills? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel!

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