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Wentzday: Colts’ QB Shines Despite Loss to Ravens

While the Colts sustained a gut-wrenching loss by the hands of the Ravens, Carson Wentz had his best game donning the Horseshoe and hopes to build on this moving forward. (Video via Indianapolis Colts YouTube)

If you’re a fan of the Indianapolis Colts, you experienced about every emotion possible Monday night.

With the Colts leading 25-9 in the fourth quarter over the Baltimore Ravens, you’re probably thinking this would be the night the Colts turned the 2021 season around. Fast forward to the end of the game, you’re sitting speechless (or cursing) as quarterback Lamar Jackson threw a touchdown to wide receiver Marquise Brown in overtime, sealing a 31-25 victory for the Ravens.

A devasting night for the Colts leaves them at 1-4 with no margin for error if they want to make the postseason. If there is a bright spot to glean from their performance, one can certainly look at a player who looked like a franchise quarterback Monday night: Carson Wentz.

Wentz had his best game as a Colt, finishing 25-of-35 (71.4%) for a career-high 402 yards and two touchdowns. He continually got the Colts in position to score and threw the ball effectively all over the Ravens’ defense.

"Wentzday" is back on Horseshoe Huddle as we take a look at Wentz’s performance on Monday Night Football. The film revealed there are still things to clean up, but you have to be excited about the prospects of a healthy Wentz in this offense moving forward.

Explosive Touchdowns

A major element that has been missing from the Colts’ offense this year is explosive scores. The ability for an offense to get a touchdown from anywhere on the field makes it very dangerous. Wentz and the Colts began to show this on Monday night.

The first touchdown came early in the game on a 3rd-and-15. Wentz doesn’t do much on the play but gets it into running back Jonathan Taylor’s hands early and lets him do the rest. Wide receivers Zach Pascal and Ashton Dulin make great blocks downfield, along with left tackle Eric Fisher. It's the longest touchdown of the year for the Colts.

The second touchdown was also an explosive play. Wentz hangs tough in the pocket even though he knows a big hit is on the way. He throws it deep to 6’4” Michael Pittman Jr. and lets him go up and grab it, showing off Pittman’s leaping ability. The connection these two are building is growing week by week.

All great offenses possess explosive play potential. One of the reasons the Colts acquired Wentz was to help generate more explosive plays in the passing game. As Wentz gets healthier and more comfortable with his teammates, this should be a more common occurrence.

Growing Confidence

When the Colts traded for Wentz in the offseason, we said that expectations should be tempered. It was not realistic to expect him to come to a new team and immediately light the world on fire, especially considering the season he had in 2020. It even took Philip Rivers 5-6 weeks before things began to click for him.

Now in Week 5, and with Wentz nearing 100% health, we are starting to see his confidence grow in the offense and with his teammates.

This clip shows numerous plays from Monday night where Wentz delivers the ball confidently and accurately to his receivers. While these clips show a variety of different routes, all of them are to the left side of the field for at least 10 yards. The combination of keeping Wentz in a rhythm, quick drops, and timing routes should be a staple of the offense moving forward.

Wentz also showed poise during the two-minute drills on Monday. Before the end of each half, Wentz drove the Colts’ offense down the field and got them in position to score. This is something that franchise quarterbacks excel at, and Wentz will need to make this the norm if he wants to be the future in Indianapolis.

The next set of clips comes from the Colts’ final drive, where Wentz hits Pascal and wide receiver Parris Campbell for decent gains to get the Colts in field goal range. Once again, Wentz stays calm and delivers the ball confidently.

Wentz’s confidence is growing each week, leading to quicker and more accurate decisions. Health, chemistry, and familiarity with his teammates will only grow as the season marches on.

Not All Good

While Wentz played fairly well, it wasn’t a perfect performance by the Colts’ QB.

He was sacked twice by the Ravens on Monday night, bringing his season total to 12. On the first sack, Fisher gets obliterated by Ravens outside linebacker Odafe Oweh who gets to Wentz, causing a fumble. Wentz absolutely cannot fumble the ball in the red zone as it cost the Colts a chance to score.

The second sack is a good disguise by the Ravens. Defensive back Tavon Young looks to be covering in the slot but comes off the edge and takes down Wentz. Wentz seemed to struggle at times determining where the pressure was coming from pre-snap. This is something he will need to work on going forward.

Wentz also continued having issues letting the ball sail on him. This happened especially in the two-minute drive to end the first half. His mechanics look way off on these throws, and it looks like most of his weight is on his back foot. Certainly, an area to clean up.

The mistakes that Wentz made Monday night seem correctable, so this shouldn’t be a major concern. However, you would like to see these issues fixed sooner rather than later.

Final Analysis

This was far and away the best game that Wentz has played while donning the Horseshoe. For the most part, he looked poised and confident in the pocket as he delivered strikes to his weapons down the field. The explosive element that he brought is something the Colts would love to see more of as well.

It’s a shame that the Colts wasted a great performance by their quarterback. Wentz did enough for the Colts to win, but a defensive meltdown and banged-up kicker did not allow them to capitalize.

The Colts return home for a Week 6 matchup against the Houston Texans. The Texans have not shown to be a very good team so far in 2021, so the Colts will need to make sure they take care of business.

For Wentz, now is the time to start stacking good performances on top of one another. The Colts want to see this as the expectation from Wentz and not the exception if he is to be the long-term answer at quarterback. Being able to stack good performances and playing winning football week in and week out will be the next step for Wentz on his journey with the Colts.

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