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Wentzday: Colts’ QB Has Near “Flawless” Performance vs. Jets

After a rough ending a week prior, Carson Wentz shows complete command of the Colts’ offense in an offensive explosion on Thursday Night Football. (Video via Indianapolis Colts YouTube)

Week 8 against the Tennessee Titans is a game Carson Wentz would like to forget.

After throwing two interceptions in the fourth quarter and overtime, Wentz took the majority of the blame for the Indianapolis Colts falling to 3-5. The big question entering Week 9 was whether or not Wentz would respond positively after the heartbreaking loss.

The quarterback did that and much more.

Wentz came out firing against the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football, going 22-of-30 (73.3%) for 272 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran the ball four times for 13 yards. Wentz was in complete control of the offense, and his head coach was very impressed.

“He’s been playing a lot of good football this year,” Colts head coach Frank Reich said after the game. “He had a couple of things at the end of the last game. He was flawless today. He was stinkin’ flawless.”

“Wentzday” is back once again on Horseshoe Huddle as we dissect the performance of the Colts’ quarterback from Week 9. While Wentz may not have been flawless as Reich has said, the film revealed he was in command throughout the game and was able to pick apart the Jets’ defense with ease.

Excelling at the Staples

One of the many reasons we’ve seen Wentz start to play better throughout the year is his ability to execute well in the key areas of a Frank Reich offense. While Reich and Wentz worked together in Philadelphia, we knew there would be an adjustment period as Wentz became acclimated with the new offense and terminology. His control over the offense is becoming more complete by the week.

The first clip shows Wentz having success on crossing routes. Crossers are a staple of the Colts offense under Reich, who does an amazing job of scheming these routes open. Wentz has been hitting his receivers in rhythm and letting them go to work.

Reich also loves to incorporate screens into his offense. When general manager Chris Ballard drafts players like Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, and Michael Pittman Jr., you want to get the ball in their hands. Wentz has no problem doing this either.

These routes have been a crucial part of the Colts’ offense since Reich arrived in 2018. Wentz being able to master these and execute at a high level has the offense humming.

New Wrinkles with Wentz

Another aspect of this Colts offense under Reich has been their ability to adjust and tailor to the quarterback’s strengths. With Wentz, the playmaking ability he brings with his legs and his arm are always a threat, and Reich has made sure to incorporate this.

One of these areas is with run-pass-options (RPOs.) Wentz has been masterful with these this year, keeping defenses honest and allowing receivers to get open. The Jets were no exception, as Wentz displayed fantastic ball-handling by pulling the ball back at the last second and delivering strikes. He also got his redemption on the shovel pass to tight end Jack Doyle for the touchdown, a play that was intercepted earlier in the year.

The Colts have also used Wentz’s ability to deliver outside of the pocket to their advantage. Bootlegs were non-existent last year with Philip Rivers, but Wentz can move the defense with his legs and deliver shots down the field. These strikes to wide receiver Zach Pascal and tight end Mo Alie-Cox are perfect examples.

The Colts are showing how multiple they can be in the passing game as Wentz gets more comfortable in the offense. Short or deep, inside or outside the pocket, it opens up the entire playbook for Reich and the offense.

Two-Minute Success

A must for all franchise quarterbacks in the NFL is being able to lead successful two-minute drives. So many games in this league come down to the wire and it’s up to the quarterback to get the offense in position to score before the half or end of the game.

Wentz has been pretty solid in this area for the Colts. The next clip is the set of plays he made as the Colts marched right down the field for the score before the half. Wentz made quick reads and delivered the ball accurately to his receivers. And stop me if you’ve heard this before, the drive ends with a touchdown to Pittman.

While it’s one thing to do this against the struggling Jets, it’s another to do it against elite teams. Wentz has shown he can lead scoring drives at the end of games against good teams as well, most notably the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans. This will always be a point of emphasis moving forward.

Big Man TD

Although it’s “Wentzday,” we have to show Danny Pinter some love. The second-year center out of Ball State, who played some tight end in college, recorded his first reception and touchdown on Thursday night. Wentz stayed calm, went through his reads, and found Pinter on his last read for the score. This is the Colts’ first touchdown by an offensive lineman since Anthony Castonzo in 2014.

The Lone Sack

Wentz was only sacked once by the Jets, bringing his season total to 17. This is a sack that I can live with as Wentz steps up in the pocket and gets back to the line of scrimmage. He may have Doyle or Pascal open for a brief moment, but I’m fine with Wentz not forcing things and moving on to the next down.

Overall, the offensive line for the Colts played outstandingly on Thursday night. The unit made monster holes for the likes of Taylor and Hines to break big plays, and Wentz had ample time to throw on most passing downs. This group seems to be hitting their stride and playing how we expected them to as we hit the halfway point of the season.

Not Quite Flawless

For the most part, Wentz was tremendous throughout the game. However, there were still times where he missed his receivers down the field.

Here are the biggest misses by Wentz on the night. On the first play, I think Wentz has an opportunity to hit Taylor on the ‘Texas’ route if he throws with a little anticipation. The second throw is the biggest miss, however, as he leads Hines out of bounds. Wentz gets lazy with his mechanics here and doesn’t line up his feet properly. If he hits Hines on the money, this is an easy walk-in touchdown.

There are still some things to clean up from Wentz that could have led to an even better performance. If he can continue to tighten up his mechanics, many of those misses become connections.

Final Assessment

Wentz had his best game of the season against the reeling Jets. He posted a career-high quarterback rating of 134.3 and helped lead the Colts to their most points in the Frank Reich era. Wentz really seems to be coming into his own with this offense, and the Colts seem to be playing their best ball of the year on that side.

It’s not hard to see the progression over the last few weeks from Wentz in this offense. As Wentz has gotten more comfortable, the offense has been able to do more things and use the full playbook to their advantage. He has also been making great decisions and delivering the ball with touch and accuracy on most throws.

Next up are the Jacksonville Jaguars, who come to Lucas Oil Stadium after a big win over the Buffalo Bills. The division rival Jags are always a tough play for the Colts, and they mustn’t take them lightly. Wentz will need to make sure he continues to stay sharp and deliver the ball accurately to keep this Colts offense rolling.

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