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With each passing day, the odds of Carson Wentz returning to Indianapolis for the 2022 season continue to head in the wrong direction.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard didn’t exactly give a ringing endorsement of Wentz Thursday, speaking to reporters for the first time since the collapse in Week 18 against the Jaguars, knocking them out of playoff contention.
“When we made the decision, after Philip [Rivers] retired and we made the decision to make a move on Carson, at the time of the decision we felt good about it and I still don’t regret the decision at the time,” Ballard said, via ESPN. “Sitting here today, just so y’all know, I won’t make a comment on who is going to be here next year and who is not going to be here next year. That’s not fair to any player.”
Head coach Frank Reich was similar in his words when he spoke to the media Tuesday.
“We’ll take it piece by piece. We’ll evaluate (Wentz’s) play. We’ll evaluate how we’re coaching him, how I’m coaching him, with each position in the pass game,” Reich said, via the Indianapolis Star. “Take it apart piece by piece, and then put it back together.”
Wentz, 29, was brought in from Philadelphia for a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 first-round pick. It was supposed to solidify the quarterback position that had been in limbo since Andrew Luck’s retirement in August 2019.
Safe to say, the jury is still out.
“I’d like to quit Band-Aiding it,” Ballard said. “I’d like for Carson to be the long-term answer or find somebody who will be here for the next 10-12 years. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. I can dream about it, wish about it, do everything I can to figure out the solution, but you do the best with what you can do at the time.”
On the surface, Wentz had a really good season, in line with his career best numbers from 2017-2019. Wentz threw for 3,563 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions on 62.4% passing. The offense, however, took a step back from 2020 with Rivers.
The Colts averaged 26.5 PPG in 2021, down from 28.2 in 2020. Wentz averaged 197.7 YPG in 2021, while Rivers averaged 253.3 in 2020. Wentz threw for at least 200 yards in just two of the final eight games of the season. The offense was much more dependent on the NFL’s leading rusher, Jonathan Taylor. In games where Taylor received 20 carries or less, the Colts went 4-8.
In the end, it didn’t matter that the Colts had the best running back in Taylor. It didn’t matter that they had maybe the best linebacker in Darius Leonard, or a budding receiver in Michael Pittman Jr. The 2021 Colts (9-8) will be remembered for Wentz and his inconsistency at the most important position in football.
“At the end of the day, I think we have a lot of really good players and really good pieces,” Ballard said. “You have to get stability at the quarterback position. That position has to play up to his potential to help the team win. I’m not blaming this all on Carson. I’m not because everybody else has to do their job, too.
“But the hyper importance of that position, it’s real. You have to get consistency there. The years we’ve gotten it we’ve been pretty good, and we thought we had it until the end of the season. Something we have to continue to work through.”
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