Carson Wentz’s epic meltdown throws the Colts’ whole future into doubt

[10-01-2022 12:29 PM]

Ammon News - Just when you think everything is going right, along comes Carson Wentz.

There was a wonky stat floating around on Sunday afternoon. It pointed out that Wentz, the Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback, was one game away from playing an entire season without throwing an interception on the road. It’s a neat stat. And it would be meaningful if Carson Wentz was not … Carson Wentz.

Ah, but Carson Wentz is Carson Wentz. Sunday afternoon’s 28-11 collapse in Jacksonville represented a full 10 on the Wentz-ing Scale. The quarterback threw two interceptions on two consecutive plays. He fumbled – again. One absurd sack followed the other. Misreads. Happy feet. Bad decisions. The works.

Indianapolis entered Sunday with a simple playoff scenario ahead of them: Win and they were in. It was the same last week. They failed then. They failed on Sunday.

It doesn’t get much easier than a Week 18 trip to the hapless Jags, a team with two wins on the season, ranked 31st in defensive efficiency, and with just seven turnovers all year – half as many as the second-lowest figure in the league. This was a Jacksonville team with nothing to play for except future contracts. It’s a team with a rookie quarterback, still trying to find his sea legs in a rudimentary offense. It was a game played in front of a hometown crowd that arrived, en masse, more interested in wearing clown wigs to roast their owner than the game itself.

The Colts fell flat on their faces. They didn’t just lose, they were embarrassed. They were beaten up in the trenches for a second straight week – on both sides of the ball. Frank Reich, the team’s head coach and play-caller, shifted to a pass-centric approach, ditching the run game that had carried the team through its 6-1 midseason stretch. The ball was put in Wentz’s hands. Take us to the promised land.

Even by the standards of the finest Wentz-ings, this was something special. More than any other high-level quarterback, you can feel Wentz’s indecision seeping through the screen. You can almost see the cogs churning. Should I throw this? I shouldn’t throw this. I’m not gonna throw this. Bleep. Did I just throw that?

Sunday’s performance had been coming. Barfing up turnovers is part of the whole Wentz Experience, he has just had an unusual amount of turnover look for extended stretches this season. ProFootballFocus, the NFL’s leading charting service, charted 16 “turnover worthy” throws from Wentz heading into Sunday, with over half of those coming on the road – and that might be a conservative figure. Against the Jaguars, he lodged his eighth fumble of this season, a career-low by his standards, but pushing still pushing his total number of turnovers for the season up to 14 – and his turnover-worthy plays closer to the mid-20s.

A reminder: The Colts are still due to send the Eagles a first-round pick for Wentz in the upcoming draft. Wentz is also on the books for $28m next season, good for the 10th-largest cap hit of any player in the league.

Indianapolis have built an excellent roster. It’s the kind that is tailor-built for a get-hot-for-a-month postseason run: A bruising offensive line; a young running back whose skill-set complements one of the league’s most bountiful run games; playmakers at every level of the defense. On both sides of the ball, the Colts have smart coaches, all at the cutting edge of where the game is at and where it’s going.

Then there’s the quarterback spot. The Colts bet that Reich’s innovative style could curb some of the quarterback’s baser instincts, that they could scheme around his flaws, hiding some of his decision-making issues with nifty play designs. They could handle the bad, they theorized, so long as it didn’t arrive at the worst time possible. They bet that they could navigate through the regular season, and that Wentz’s off-beat playmaking chops could be a difference-maker in a tight playoff game.

On Sunday, that all went bust. Two weeks ago, the Colts had the look of a stealth contender. Now, they’re outside looking in, once again facing long-term questions about where they go as a franchise and what they do at quarterback.

You saw that right. That’s the 4-12 Giants running a very obvious quarterback sneak on third-and-9 in the second quarter of a Week 18 game. I remind you: ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that Joe Judge will be back as head coach for the 2022 season. Judge has weaponized his special blend of rah-rah nonsense to such a degree that Giants owner John Mara has claimed he sees something of the Bill Belichick or Bill Parcells in the young coach. The video above – and reality itself – would indicate otherwise.

There is no franchise that will head into the offseason in a deeper hole than the Giants.


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