How Ready Will Wentz be in September for Colts?
Carson Wentz is the newest candidate in the Colts’ desperate search to find a long-term replacement for Andrew Luck. Jacoby Brissett was quickly patched in as the heir to the throne after Luck abruptly retired before the 2019 season. But the results with Brissett at the helm were less than stellar as evidenced by Indianapolis’ 7-9 mark. The journeyman signal-caller was quickly supplanted by longtime Chargers quarterback, Phillip Rivers, for one last curtain call before his storied career came to an end after the conclusion of the 2020 campaign.
Once Brissett signed with Miami and Rivers took his final bow, the Colts were in desperate need of a battle-tested quarterback who could hopefully fill the void not only this season but for years to come. The best they could do is swing a deal for a reclamation project in the former No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Carson Wentz. It is an interesting deal with the Colts giving up a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional second-round pick. The NFL lines at all of the best online sportsbooks currently have the Colts slated as the second choice to win the AFC South at odds of +180, trailing only the Titans at -130.
As luck would have it, Wentz promptly fell victim to a foot injury in the early stages of training camp and subsequently underwent surgery to remedy the issue. Indianapolis has been relying on 2020 fourth-round pick Jacob Eason and 2021 sixth-round pick Sam Ellinger as their top two QB’s in the preseason. However, much to everyone’s surprise, Wentz has declared himself fit to play and is itching to get back on the field.
“He’s getting very antsy. Very antsy,” Reich said, per Colts.com. “He’s wanting to push the envelope, as I would expect. But he’s gotta be patient and just stay focused on the mental side of it right now and we gotta let things take their course. But at the same time, there’s a time to push things and we’ll keep doing that as it’s appropriate.”
Regarding who will be his opening day starter, and backup, coach Reich stated, “I gotta look at the film to make that determination but my hunch is that we’re probably need to see another week. My hunch is that we’re probably going to need to see another week because I think both guys are doing enough, showing enough good signs. Both guys have made enough mistakes, but that’s normal — I mean, shoot, it’s hard out there. It’s not easy.”
But Wentz has made tremendous progress and regardless of what you think about his body of work thus far, there is no denying he has plenty of grit, handling the team’s 7-on-7 reps only three weeks after having surgery on his foot.
Wentz landing in Indianapolis is not a random event as head coach Frank Reich was the Eagles offensive coordinator when Philly won the Super Bowl in 2017 with Wentz missing the big game due to injury but was having an outstanding season until he was sidelined.
Shortly after the trade was announced, Colts senior offensive assistant Press Taylor, who also coached Wentz with the Eagles, said, “I go back to the last time we were all together, it ended in a Super Bowl year. Carson was on track to having an MVP season before an injury. So that’s an extremely positive past together that you kind of lean on.”
If you are a Colts fan you have to be optimistic about Wentz’s first practices since returning. At least Frank Reich is, “When I first saw him popping around out there, I thought, ‘That looks pretty good,'” Reich said. “You know, and I’ve seen a little of it indoors, but just seeing out there in the grass. … I thought he looked good. And the question now is how does it respond?”
And that is the million-dollar question because if Wentz reinjures his foot or is out of commission due to any other circumstance, the prospects don’t look great for the Colts. Perhaps the only saving grace is they reside in a division with arguably the two worst franchises in the league, Jacksonville and Houston, whom they will have the luxury of playing a combined four times. Unfortunately, those games come in Weeks 6, 10, 13, and 18. It would be nice to be able to have the young guns get a few cupcakes under their belts until Wentz returns.
But that doesn’t necessarily preclude Wentz from starting in Week 1 against the Seahawks at home. However, it would be a foolish decision to rush him back if he’s not truly ready to withstand the rigors of an NFL season. We will know soon enough but take heart Colts’ fans, from what we have seen thus far with Eason and Ellinger, they look better than most young backups. Fingers crossed.
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