The Indianapolis Colts made a risky maneuver when they traded for the embattled Carson Wentz this offseason.
The sixth-year quarterback is coming from the floorboards of a spiral with the Philadelphia Eagles, but the Colts are taking a chance on a guy (and roughly $40 million in guarantees) who they hope can rebound and be their quarterback for the foreseeable future.
Although Wentz now has more than enough detractors due to his most recent performances with the Eagles, many believe this is a good marriage he's entering with the Colts.
Specifically, NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt considers Wentz to be one of the top players in the NFL who had a poor season in 2020 but is "guaranteed" to play better in 2021.
Rank 3 | Carson Wentz · Indianapolis Colts · QB
2020 stats: 12 games | 57.4 pct | 2,620 pass yds | 6.0 ypa | 16 pass TD | 15 INT | 276 rush yds | 5 rush TD
Reuniting with Colts head coach Frank Reich, who served as Wentz's offensive coordinator in Philadelphia during one of the best seasons of Wentz's NFL career (2017), should help Wentz get things back on track after the ignominious end to his tenure with the Eagles, as should a supporting cast that ranks among the best in the NFL. Wentz will have the kinds of assets at running back (Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Marlon Mack) and receiver (Michael Pittman, T.Y. Hilton) that he missed badly in his final three seasons with the Eagles. But what I'm most excited about for Wentz is the opportunity to play behind one of the league's top offensive lines. In 2020, Wentz was taken down for an NFL-high 50 sacks, despite being benched for four games -- his confidence should be much higher in Indy, where the offensive line was credited with just 12 sacks allowed last season, per Pro Football Focus, seventh-least in the NFL. Bonus: The Colts' defense is much better than the Eagles' was, too.
Unless Wentz is now just completely toast, improvement seems inevitable.
He is now reunited with Colts head coach Frank Reich, who was his offensive coordinator when he entered the league and began playing arguably the best football of his career.
The two have a complete understanding of each other on and off the field. Reich vouched for Wentz, and the head coach's influential moves have worked out so far with the Colts. See last year's brief career resurrection of Philip Rivers as an example.
Wentz Has Help
The Colts also made sure to have a well-stocked cupboard to help enable Wentz to be the chef of their offense.
He will operate behind one of, if not the best offensive lines of his career. Since 2018, Pro Football Focus has given the Colts pass-blocking ranks of 10th, 13th, and 7th, and run-blocking grades of 2nd, 2nd, and 3rd.
Wentz also doesn't have to have the pressure of feeling like everything is on his shoulder and playing hero-ball as a result. He's got two running backs to hand off to in Jonathan Taylor and Marlon Mack that have each run for 1,000 yards in a season over the last two years, and another in Nyheim Hines that has the most receptions for a Colts running back within their first three years.
As for Wentz's new pass-catchers, even the most lackadaisical of football reporters can identify names on the Colts' wide receiver depth chart, from the first to the 13th player.
While they lack star power, the tight ends are quality players as well, as Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox are high-end blockers and reliable players in the passing game. The Colts are also really excited about 2021 fourth-round pick Kylen Granson.
Wentz has taken it upon himself ever since being traded to the Colts to ensure he has a good relationship with his weapons both on and off the field, which should help ease the transition as training camp, the preseason, and ultimately the regular season each arrives.
I don't want to guarantee better play for Wentz as Brandt has, but I certainly would not wager any amount to say that Wentz won't rebound as a member of the Colts in 2021.
For more on Wentz, our Zach Hicks has been talking to experts and doing deep-dive studies on Wentz's mechanics. Check the pieces out below:
- Diving Into Why Carson Wentz Was Sacked So Often in 2020
- Can the Colts' Deep Passing Game Improve with Carson Wentz?
- Touchdown Wire: Carson Wentz Ranks as Worst NFL QB on Six Different Throws
- The Mechanics of Carson Wentz: Setting the Hallway
- The Mechanics of Carson Wentz: Quarterback Sequencing
- The Mechanics of Carson Wentz: Learning From the Success of Josh Allen
Should any other Colts have made the team? Drop your thoughts below in the comment section!