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Wentzday: Colts QB Carson Wentz Chokes vs. Jaguars Leaving Future Uncertain

After a dismal performance to end the season, questions surround Wentz once again heading into the offseason.

The 2021 season ended abruptly for the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday as they dropped to the Jacksonville Jaguars 26-11.

The Colts sat at 9-6 just two weeks ago and only needed to win one of their last two games to make it to the playoffs. Instead, Indy finished 9-8 and fumbled away their opportunity for a postseason berth, no pun intended.

To lose to a now 3-14 Jaguars team when everything was on the line is an embarrassment for the franchise, and changes will certainly be made in the offseason to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

At the center of the collapse was Colts quarterback Carson Wentz. Wentz turned in arguably his worst performance as a Colt, going 17-of-29 (58.6%) for 185 yards with a touchdown and an interception for a quarterback rating of 74.6. Wentz also lost a fumble and was sacked sick times. When the Colts needed him to deliver in their biggest moment of the season, Wentz crumbled.

“It sucks, honestly, you know, walking off kind of in disbelief,” Wentz said dejectedly. “It's hard to fully reflect on everything right now. It all happened so fast. But just even thinking back just to where we came from, (we) dug ourselves out of a hole. You know, we were in control of our destiny. And then the last two weeks just didn't get it done. It hurts right now. A lot of reflection to come over the next handful of days, unfortunately. But, yeah, it's not a good feeling right now.”

This week’s “Wentzday” installment is one that most Colts fans would love to forget. Let’s take a look at the film to see what went wrong as uncertainty around the Colts’ quarterback position grows to an all-time high.

Deep Shots

Some of Wentz’s best balls of the day were actually on deep shots. He was able to throw them with accuracy and confidence.

This first clip shows a couple of the deep throws from Sunday. The throw to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is hard to beat as it goes right over the chasing defender’s shoulders and into Hilton’s lap. The second deep shot to wide receiver Parris Campbell falls incomplete, but it is a very catchable ball and could’ve been a big gain.

The Colts did not often test the Jaguars deep because of protection issues and a lack of separation from the wide receivers. It’s a shame the Colts do not have more deep threats at the wide receiver position, as this is an area where Wentz typically thrives. Stretching the field would help take away attention from superstar running back Jonathan Taylor and could be used to open up the offense.

Last Connection with MPJ

One of the reasons Wentz struggled Sunday was because he failed to get the ball to his favorite weapon. Wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. did not receive a target until the third quarter as the Jags made it a priority to take away Wentz’s top option. It took until the final drive of the game for Wentz and Pittman to get things clicking.

At this point, it was garbage time, and the Colts were already out of the game. The drive did end with a touchdown from Wentz to Pittman on a nice slant route. The timing is good, and Wentz delivers an accurate ball to allow Pittman to dive in for the score. The same can be said on the two-point conversion attempt.

Pittman finished the game with six catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. Pittman was obviously Wentz’s favorite target all season, finishing with 88 catches for 1,082 yards and six touchdowns. No other receiver on the Colts had more than 384 yards. The Colts desperately need to look into investing in more talent on the outside this offseason to give Wentz more weapons.

Sacks, Sacks, and More Sacks

Sunday’s game was atrocious from a protection standpoint. Wentz was sacked a season-high six times by the Jaguars, bringing his final season tally to 32. While the offensive line played a horrendous game, Wentz contributed to the sacks by holding onto the ball too long at times.

The next clip shows all of the sacks from Sunday. The worst of them all is the third sack of the game, where Wentz tries to flip the ball away at the last second and it becomes a fumble recovered by Jacksonville.

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The six sacks are a combination of poor offensive line play and poor quarterback play. Protection breakdowns by the offensive line were prevalent, which should not happen with this group. Wentz also held onto the ball too long and failed to utilize his check downs to get rid of the ball, something that has been a major problem all season long. Wentz desperately needs to make use of his check downs more often and work on his processing to get the ball out quicker.

Lapses in Accuracy

Wentz might have had his worst performance as a Colt in terms of accuracy against the Jaguars. He continued to miss his receivers high or wide even when defenders were not around, causing drives to stall.

Here are four prime examples of Wentz missing receivers when they are wide open. Whether it was the hesitancy he was playing with, faulty mechanics, or feeling the pressure from the Jags defense, Wentz had a hard time consistently delivering good balls to his weapons.

Wentz’s accuracy seemed to worsen throughout the year, which is never good to see. This is a cause for great concern moving forward and is something the quarterback must clean up this offseason.

Interception on the Road, Finally

There was quite a bit of talk leading up to the game about how Wentz had not thrown an interception in seven starts on the road this season. That came to an end on Sunday.

This interception by Wentz is inexcusable. He has his eyes locked on tight end Mo Alie-Cox the entire time, hesitates once again (notice a theme?), and throws the ball directly into coverage for the pick. A terrible decision and throw by the quarterback.

Final Assessment

When the Colts needed him the most, Carson Wentz could not step up and beat the lowly Jaguars. In what was one of his worst performances of the season, Wentz was wildly inaccurate and made bad decisions in the embarrassing loss. The hesitancy in his play and the pressure he was under made things worse. While Wentz was definitely not the sole reason the Colts lost, he played a major role in it.

The way Wentz ended the 2021 season brings uncertainty to the Colts’ quarterback position once again. Wentz looked to be settling in as “the guy” towards the middle of the season, and many thought the Colts had finally found their long-term answer at quarterback. But after struggling down the stretch, culminating in a catastrophic end to the season, that is no longer the case.

The 2022 offseason will be very interesting as the Colts decide what to do about Wentz. Do they give him another shot in 2022? Do they cut ties early and swallow the $15 million dead cap hit for the 2022 season? Will there be any better options out there via free agency or the draft?

There are still many questions to be answered, but one thing is certain: The Colts won’t contend for a Super Bowl until an answer has been found at the quarterback position.

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