How did it come to this?
On Christmas night, short-handed and counted out, the Indianapolis Colts somehow found a way to win against one of the top teams in the NFC in the Arizona Cardinals. Coming out of that game, it looked like the Colts were not only going to the playoffs, but they would be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
Fast forward two weeks and the Colts are now sitting at home with the playoffs set to start, thanks to two dreadful performances against the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars, ending what was one a promising season.
One player that is under heavy criticism is quarterback Carson Wentz, who reverted to his early-season ways, turning the football over far too often and making a number of head-scratching decisions, none more-so than in the regular season finale against the Jaguars resulting in short fields for Jacksonville in an eventual 26-11 loss, ending the Colts' season in disappointing fashion.
Following the game, Colts' head coach Frank Reich was hesitant to discuss Wentz's performance or make a broad statement regarding the single caller's future in Indianapolis. However, Reich did back his quarterback, stating he believed Wentz did a lot of good things throughout the 2021 season.
"I think Carson did a lot. I mean, I think we're a team. I think he's our quarterback," Reich said to reporters Sunday following the frustrating loss, according to video via Colts.com. "And, you know, I think we're all going to learn and grow from this year, you know, how to utilize every player that we have to the fullest. I think there were a lot of bright moments for him, for Carson. So, again, I'm not going to go deep into individual assessment."
On Monday, with a day to digest the frustrating loss and a chance to review the film, Reich had a bit of a different tone with reporters, again stating that he wouldn't evaluate individual players through the media, but largely had a non-committal tone to Wentz moving forward, especially after a Sunday night meeting with Colts' owner Jim Irsay and General Manager Chris Ballard.
"Yeah, I did speak with Mr. (Jim) Irsay last night. Actually, when we got back he wanted to meet with Chris (Ballard) and I. So, we came back over here to the building last night and met with Mr. Irsay for a couple hours just reflecting on the game, on the season. He’s got a very unique perspective," Reich said. "I love his approach and how demanding and holding us all accountable, but also showing support as an owner that he wants to do whatever it takes to get our organization to the top, to get our team to the top. It was a good conversation, a supportive conversation, but also demanding and wanting answers and wanting to hold us accountable.
"As far as Carson (Wentz), again I mentioned this the other day just with individuals, we loved the team we had this year," Reich added. "We knew everyone we brought in this year we expected to play winning football. Next year’s roster will be next year’s roster. I’m not going to evaluate or talk about any – I don’t want to just open it up with one player and then start talking about all of them.”
The Colts are on the hook for a $28 million cap hit in 2022 with Wentz, though they could get out of the deal with $15 million in dead cap space, if they so choose to.
Indianapolis has made its bed here with Wentz though, and they're going to have to lay in it for at least another year.
There were certainly strong flashes of consistent, smart play from Wentz overall, but his issues reared their ugly heads once again in the biggest of spots, resulting in the end of the Colts' season. That's tough to swallow for all parties involved.
Have thoughts on Carson Wentz following the 2021 season? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel!