By: Reese Nasser
Quarterback Carson Wentz will be entering his sixth year in the NFL come the beginning of the 2021 season. The former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback has found a new home for himself: The Indianapolis Colts.
Carson Wentz has had an NFL career that has been full of highs and lows. Over the course of his five-year career, he has played in 16 games just twice. Injuries have plagued his career and have kept him from being the QB that many people thought that he could be when he entered the NFL as the second overall pick in the 2016 draft.
When healthy, Wentz has proven to be a capable starter. He has made big plays and is considered a true leader in the NFL world. During the Eagles super bowl run in 2017, Wentz had the best season of his career. He was an MVP front runner and his play spoke for itself.
The second-year quarterback led the Eagles to a record of 11-2. He threw for 33 touchdowns and looked to be on pace to become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. This was until a torn ACL in week 14 ended his season.
While the Eagles still went onto win the super bowl, led by quarterback Nick Foles, Wentz still played an integral part in putting them into that position. His leadership and elite play through 13 games helped the Eagles secure their spot in the playoffs.
The injuries began with the torn ACL in week 14 of the 2017 season for Wentz. Since then he has dealt with injuries nearly every year of his career.
In 2018, even after coming off of the torn ACL, Wentz was ready to go by week three. He led the Eagles through 11 games and had a record of 5-6. He lasted until week 14 when the Eagles decided to end his season early. This early shutdown was due to a back injury that Wentz fought throughout the majority of the season. Yet again, the Eagles turned to Foles and he once again pulled off a playoff miracle. Their season came to an end in the NFC Divisional round.
As the 2019 season was under way, Wentz began to look like his old self again. He played in all 16 games and his stat line was impressive. He threw 27 touchdowns and added another on the ground. Wentz played well but injuries came for him yet again. In the Eagles first playoff game, Wentz suffered a concussion just nine snaps into the game. There was no Nick Foles to save the day this time and the Eagles season came to an end in a game that saw the Eagles not score a single offensive touchdown.
The 2020 season was no better for Wentz. The only difference this time being that injuries did not derail Wentz season, but instead, he derailed it himself.
Statistically, 2020 was the worst season of Wentz’s career. He finished with a starting record of 3-8-1. He was responsible for 21 touchdowns but also threw 15 interceptions and had 10 fumbles. He was eventually replaced by rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Both the Colts and Wentz will look to bounce back in 2021. In recent years, both sides have underperformed.
The Colts went all in last season and brought in longtime Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers. Rivers led the Colts ro an 11-5 record but didn’t make it past the AFC Wild card round. Not long after the season ended, Rivers retired and brought in Carson Wentz.
Wentz and the Colts will both have high expectations heading into 2021, but things may not necessarily go to plan. Here are three reasons why Carson Wentz may struggle in his first season with the Indianapolis Colts.
As previously noted, Carson Wentz has had a difficult time staying healthy. It is difficult to make a legitimate impact if you can’t stay on the field.
Now this is no knock against Wentz. Injuries are never planned and they are impossible to avoid. But, it is difficult to discuss Wentz career up to this point without taking note of his extensive injury history. He has finished a season playing all 16 games just twice.
The injuries that have knocked Wentz out have all been significant. His injuries have varied heavily. He has dealt with hairline fractures in his ribs, concussions, a stress fracture in his back, and a torn ACL and LCL.
None of these injuries have been easy to recover from, and while it is amazing that Wentz has continued to be resilient and work back from each injury, it can’t be ignored that he is hurt somewhat often.
2020 proved to be an outlier for Wentz. He was able to stay healthy but his play on the field proved to be his downfall.
Turnovers have been a mainstay throughout Wentz’s career. While he has shown that he is willing to do whatever must be done to make a play, whether that be staying in the pocket for too long, forcing a ball into a tight window, or attempting to make the play with his legs, this has also led to a high amount of turnovers.
Wentz has been responsible for 121 touchdowns over his career: 113 passing and 8 rushing. But, he has also produced some of the highest turnover amounts while missing significant time over his five seasons in the NFL. He has thrown 50 interceptions and has fumbled 58 times. That is 108 turnovers to 121 touchdowns. The number is much closer than you would like it to be for your QB1.
It is possible for Wentz to cut down on his turnovers. He has had three seasons where he has thrown only seven interceptions.
The fumbling issue is more of the concern when it comes to his turnover concerns. He has never had less than nine fumbles in a season and has recorded as many as 16 in a season.
The positive of joining the Colts is that Wentz will be protected. The Colts have one of the top rated offensive lines in the NFL and should give Wentz all the time that he needs to make a play. This protection will give Wentz an opportunity to not need to force the ball or have to make some outlandish play.
A clean pocket has not been a consistent part of Wentz’s career up to this point. The Eagles line that Wentz was behind dealt with injuries and experienced highs and lows, much like Wentz.
Average Wide Reciever Room
The Colts wide receiver core has depth but is still widely unproven. This could prove to impact Wentz more than some may think.
Every great quarterback in the NFL has a reliable main target. Josh Allen has Stefon Diggs. Patrick Mahomes has Tyreek Hill. Tom Brady has Mike Evans. But who does Wentz have? Let’s look at the wide receiver options in Indianapolis.
T.Y. Hilton is the longest tenured receiver out of the core, so we will start with him. He is a proven receiver and has spent his entire nine year career with the Colts
During his time in Indianapolis, he has produced great nu,hers and has been a catalyst on the offense. While he has never been a high touchdown producing machine, with just 50 career touchdowns, he is a reliable receiver. He has hauled in 608 receptions and is on pace to potentially reach 10,000 career receiving yards this season.
While age has not necessarily caught up with Hilton, his production has slowly begun to decrease. Even after playing in 15 games, the most of any core Colts receiver, Hilton still only had 56 receptions on 93 targets. These 56 catches led to just five touchdown receptions and 762 yards. This upcoming season, Hilton will still be available but may potentially take on more of a leadership role where the younger receivers can learn from him. Even with being a main target in Indianapolis, he is not to the caliber of an elite WR1 anymore.
The next man up will be second year receiver Michael Pittman Jr. Pittman showed promise in his first year with the Colts. The 34th overall pick caught 40 receptions and had just over 500 receiving yards.
Pittman dealt with lingering issues and played in 13 games last season. The Colts have high hopes for Pittman and will look for him to be Wentz’s main target this upcoming season. But can Pittman be a WR1? That is not yet something he has proven.
The core after Hilton and Pittman is somewhat interesting. Zach Pascal has been an anchor for this group. He will be entering his fourth season and his production has been eerily similar over his first few years in the NFL.
His 2019 and 2020 numbers are nearly identical across the board. He has 623 and 629 yards from scrimmage in each respective season. He also had 43 and 44 touches and also had five touchdowns in each season.
Third year receiver Parris Campbell is the most unproven of the four. Over the course of his two seasons in the NFL, Campbell has appeared in just nine career games. He has 24 career receptions, 198 yards, and one touchdown.
Injuries have been Campbells downfall up to this point. He was a talented playmaker during his time at Ohio State and will look to return to form this season.
When looking at the combined stats of these four receivers, they are seemingly all on par with each other. There is no alpha in the room and that may prove to hurt Wentz. While it is nice to have reliable players at the position, a clear number one target would be even more beneficial. A star receiver in this group, whether it be one of these guys taking a leap towards stardom, or going out and getting one for Wentz, could be what he needs to not struggle.
Wentz could potentially reach back into his bag and play like he did during his 2018 run, or he could pick up where he left off last season. There is no guarantee how he will look coming into this 2021 season. While he is easy to root for, the road back to MVP level play will not be easy to reach.