In his first start for the Indianapolis Colts, Carson Wentz showed great promise despite limited preparation in training camp.
As the Colts faced off against the Los Angeles Rams in Week Two, Wentz once again had to go against a tough defense that would be sure to put pressure on the quarterback. The team result was not what the Colts wanted, falling 27-24 on Sunday and to 0-2 on the season.
Wentz himself had a solid stat line, going 20-of-31 (64.5%) for 247 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also ran the ball five times and picked up 37 yards on the ground. Unfortunately, Wentz had to leave the game late in the fourth quarter due to an ankle injury and could not return, leaving backup Jacob Eason to lead the Colts on their final two drives.
However, before the injury, we saw Wentz’s playmaking on full display. He helped lead the Colts back into the game and gave them a shot to win it at the end.
Week Two of the "Wentzday" series on Horseshoe Huddle will take a look at the playmaking abilities of the Colts’ quarterback from this matchup, and if he will be able to use that this week against the Tennessee Titans (if he can play.)
Wentz to Pittman Connection
One thing we’ve been waiting to see is if Michael Pittman Jr. can take that next step and be a No. 1 wide receiver. His connection with Wentz on Sunday was certainly encouraging.
After only four targets against the Seattle Seahawks, the Colts made Pittman a priority as he racked up eight catches for 123 yards. Wentz looked for him often as seen by this first clip.
At first, it looks as if the play isn’t going anywhere. But Wentz stands firmly in the pocket, even though he knows he’ll take a hit, and launches one deep to Pittman on the crosser. It’s a tad underthrown, but Pittman runs under it with two defenders around him and makes the catch. Huge drive-extending play.
The next play is great execution. Wentz starts the play by staring down wide receiver Zach Pascal to keep the safety in the middle of the field. He then works to his left and delivers a strike to a wide-open Pittman for another big gain.
Great things happen when the ball is in Pittman’s hands. The quicker these two can form a great connection, the better for this Colts offense.
Facing Pressure Once Again
The Colts’ offensive line certainly did not do Wentz many favors on Sunday. The quarterback was sacked three times and hit 11 more times, not to mention the countless pressures he faced. But when looking at the film, there are times when Wentz could have helped out his line.
The next film clip shows all three sacks by the Rams. The first sack was a bad play call. Head coach Frank Reich wanted to try and catch the Rams off-guard by going quick on fourth down. The Rams were ready, no one was open, and Wentz had nowhere to go.
The second sack looks as if Wentz may have tight end Jack Doyle open before he tucks the ball and takes the sack. The end zone view shows if he lets it fly a tick sooner, he may have a completion. The third sack is hard to tell as it looks like he may have running back Nyheim Hines open at the end (top of the screen.)
While the play of the offensive line has been inexcusable, Wentz can also work on getting the ball out sooner and throwing with more anticipation to avoid taking sacks.
The interception Wentz threw in the second quarter wasn’t necessarily caused by pressure, but it shows how dominant the Rams defensive line was. Wentz is looking to throw a shovel pass to Doyle where he can walk in for a touchdown behind guards Quenton Nelson and Mark Glowinski. Instead, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald chips Doyle and causes him to lose his balance as Wentz is releasing the ball, leading to the interception. Not Wentz’s fault, just a great play by Donald.
Wentz wanted to come to the Colts in part because of the dominance of the offensive line. That has not been the case so far this season, and they know they need to step up their level of play to what they’re capable of.
Playmaking on Full Display
Wentz has already shown in his short time in Indianapolis that he has plenty of playmaking ability, both through the air and on the ground.
This touchdown throw displays a concept the Colts need to incorporate more into their game plans. Wentz takes a simple three-step drop and delivers a strike to Pascal on a high-low concept against Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Quick, rhythmic passes allow Wentz to get the ball out of his hands quickly and save him from hits.
The next clip shows just how many times Wentz was able to extend the play with his legs and either pick up more yardage or attempt to get something out of nothing. One of the biggest concerns, if he can play this weekend against the Titans, is how much of his mobility will be lost because of the two sprained ankles. This would be a big hit to his playmaking abilities.
Wentz was one of the main reasons the Colts even had a chance at stealing the victory on Sunday. The offensive line did not play to their standard once again, but Wentz willed the Colts back into the game with his playmaking ability and by finding the correct receivers all over the field. It’s a real shame Wentz couldn’t come out and finish the game after his ankle injuries. Otherwise, the end result may have been different.
As of now, his status against the Titans is still up in the air. Wentz has a high ankle sprain on his right ankle and a moderate ankle sprain on his left. He is trying everything in his power to be out there for Week Three, but it remains to be seen if that will happen.
If he can play, he obviously will not be 100%. His mobility will be very limited and movement in the pocket will certainly be a struggle. It will be up to Reich to scheme up quick passes to get the ball out of his hands and the offensive line to keep him clean as the Colts face a critical division game with possible playoff implications down the line.
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