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Wentzday: QB Carson Wentz Continues Accurate Play in Colts Thrashing of Texans

The numbers weren’t flashy as the Colts pounded the ball on the ground, but Wentz showed off great accuracy and ball placement in Houston.

Coming into Sunday’s matchup against the Houston Texans, the Indianapolis Colts knew they could not take their divisional opponent lightly.

Despite a 2-9 record, the Texans had just beaten the Tennessee Titans a couple of weeks earlier, and the Colts had no room to slip up. Indy sure didn’t take them lightly, pounding the Texans 31-0 as they moved to 7-6 and stayed firmly in the playoff hunt.

While the defensive side of the ball dominated, the offense took care of business on their way to another 30-point outing. The running game was the primary focus with running back Jonathan Taylor going for 143 yards and two touchdowns.

Quarterback Carson Wentz and the passing game had a very efficient outing, as well. Wentz was 16-of-22 (72.7%) for 158 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, earning a 107.8 quarterback rating.

“No matter who we’re playing, the record, we throw all of that out the window,” Wentz said after the game. “We just have to be our best that day and go out and execute and play our game. I didn’t think offensively it was our best game, but I thought we did enough. And when the defense plays like that, we are going to be able to win a lot of games when they do that.”

This week’s installment of “Wentzday” on Horseshoe Huddle takes a look at QB1’s performance at NRG Stadium. The film revealed Wentz’s continued improvements in accuracy and how the success of the running game has drastically helped the passing game.

Elite Ball Placement

Throughout the year, Wentz has shown to be a fairly accurate quarterback, something that wasn’t always the case in Philadelphia. This week, in particular, Wentz displayed elite ball placement on quite a few of his throws. It’s this elite ball placement that led to completions and first downs.

Our first clip of the day comes on a second-down throw to running back Nyheim Hines in the flat. Texans linebacker Garret Wallow is coming down to cover Hines but doesn’t have a chance at defending the throw because of where Wentz places it. It’s a tough, spinning catch by Hines and leads to a big gain.

The next couple of clips show more great ball placement by Wentz. Both of these throws go to wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. for first downs, and each throw was put in a spot where only Pittman could catch it. Add in Pittman’s strong hands, and this is a recipe for success.

Wentz’s accurate ball placement has been great to see this year. From his struggles last year with the Eagles, he has made great strides in his accuracy, and it has certainly provided a boost to the Colts’ passing game.

Success with Play-Action

With Taylor rising to the best back in the NFL, opposing defenses have to account for him on every play. This makes the play-action passing game very effective as teams are focused on Taylor and peeking into the backfield.

The Colts were very successful with play-action on Sunday. In the series of clips, you’ll notice that the linebackers come down on every play as it looks like Taylor will get the ball at first. Wentz does a great job at selling the fakes and then delivering the ball accurately to the open receivers down the field.

Taylor’s success has also had a positive effect on the passing game. However, Wentz’s ball handling and the way he carries out the fakes on play-action help sell the play. Just like how RPO’s have become prominent in this offense, play-action is here to stay as well.

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Speaking of RPOs, the Colts and Wentz once again excelled in this area. One thing that is always key when executing an RPO is how the quarterback handles the ball. Whether making sure it is given to the running back at the right time or waiting until the last second to pull the ball back, the quarterback must handle the ball quickly and securely.

Here are more examples of the Colts using the RPO. After further examination, the touchdown throw to wide receiver Ashton Dulin looks more like a play-action fake than an RPO, which we already know Wentz used successfully throughout the game. The last RPO should’ve been a touchdown, but Wentz and Pittman cannot connect.

When you have a back as talented and productive as Taylor, fakes to him open up a myriad of things in the passing game. Until teams can figure out a way to make Taylor less effective, Wentz and the Colts will continue to use play-action and RPOs.

The Lone Sack

Wentz was only sacked once on Sunday, bringing his season total to 22 in 13 games. For reference, Wentz was sacked 50 times in 12 games with the Eagles last season. He has greatly benefitted from playing behind a much better offensive line and in a Frank Reich offense that likes to get the ball out quickly.

On this sack, it seems like the play was doomed from the start. While the Colts keep tight end Kylen Granson in to block, giving the Colts six blockers, the Texans bring seven on the blitz. Wentz is immediately under pressure as he completes his drop and has nowhere to go. Bringing Hines in from the slot to block may have helped to pick up the free blitzer.

Struggles in Pass Protection

While Wentz was only sacked once, he was under pressure for a good portion of the game. The majority of this pressure was given up by left tackle Eric Fisher as he was pushed back into the pocket on numerous occasions.

Wentz was not immune to the pressure either, as his worst throws of the day were when he was under duress. While he was able to complete a couple and scramble away from some, the Colts and Fisher, in particular, must give Wentz better protection down the stretch as they face off against teams with much better pass rushers.

Final Assessment

While the numbers weren’t overly flashy, Carson Wentz quarterbacked an efficient passing attack against the Texans. In a game where the defense did their job and the running game was effective, Wentz shined with his accuracy and ball placement on numerous throws. His ability to carry out play-action fakes and RPOs is something the Colts had great success with and will continue to be a staple of this offense.

The Colts get to enjoy their bye this week after 13 straight games. They’ll need to come back rested and rejuvenated as they’ll welcome the AFC leading New England Patriots to Lucas Oil Stadium on Dec. 18. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is known to take away the opposing team’s best offensive player. If that is the case and the Patriots can contain Taylor, it’ll be on Wentz’s shoulders to lead the team to victory and keep the Colts in the thick of the AFC playoff picture.

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Have thoughts on the overall assessment of Carson Wentz coming out of the Week 13 matchup against the Houston Texans? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel!

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