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November 01, 2021

The Indianapolis media is already calling for the Colts to bench Carson Wentz

NFL Eagles
Carson-Wentz-Colts_110121_usat Jenna Watson/IndyStar/USA TODAY NETWORK

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz

Every Monday morning at media outlets across the Delaware Valley, Eagles beat writers spend time polishing up the latest edition of their own Carson Wentz snap tracker. Why? Because even though Wentz was traded last offseason to the Colts, the Eagles (and by extension, their fans) have a vested interest in his performance.

Not so much how he plays, but how much he plays.

That's because if Wentz plays in 75% of the Colts' offensive snaps (or 70% and Indy makes the playoffs) then the 2022 second-round pick the Eagles got back in the trade becomes a first-round pick. With the Colts struggling so far this season, that's currently a top 10 pick, something head coach Frank Reich and GM Chris Ballard would surely love to keep for themselves.

And it appears those in Philly aren't the only ones paying attention to Wentz's snap count.

Indianapolis Star writer Gregg Doyel, who already took Wentz to task earlier this year for his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19, wrote that Reich should bench Wentz following the Colts' overtime loss to the Titans on Sunday, a loss in which the former Eagles QB threw one of the worst pick sixes you'll ever see (plus another bad interception in OT).

He doesn't believe that Wentz should sit because he's been so bad — overall, he hasn't, completing 62.2% of his passes for 1,926, 14 TDs, 3 INTs and a 96.3 passer rating — but rather because as their season whiffs out the window, preserving that first-round pick in 2022, which is looking a lot higher than expected, is paramount.

The Carson Wentz experiment was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it? We’ll always have that Bomb Cyclone in San Francisco, and those victories over a bad team from Miami and a worse one from Houston. But we’re reaching the point where this experiment needs an expiration date, and while that date cannot be Thursday against the New York Jets for obvious reasons – the Colts have obviously screwed up their quarterback room beyond recognition – this experiment needs to end soon.

You know it and I know it, and you know the Philadelphia Eagles are terrified right now, because it’s not just the Colts’ future riding on this decision; the Eagles are invested heavily as well. It’s because of the trade that brought Wentz here, and while this contractual stuff can make your eyes glaze over, bear with me for one moment...  [indystar.com]

Doyel then goes on to explain the specifics of the deal we outlined above and comes away with one obvious solution for Indy: simply bench Wentz for four or five games. (Note: The Colts' bye is Week 14, meaning they only have four games after it, so if they wait until then to make the switch there's a decent chance it's already too late.)

At 3-5, they're likely going to be completely out of the playoff picture in a couple weeks if their season continues going the way it has through the first two months (although the Derrick Henry injury does make things a bit more interesting). If a slide continues, the Colts benching Wentz is not entirely out of the question at some point, although the midway mark of the season feels a little early to be giving up. 

If that has Eagles fans worried that they won't get the first-round pick they so desperately want, don't worry, writes Doyel. 

Translation: The Colts need to sit Wentz at least four games, five to be safe, to keep a bad trade from becoming worse. Otherwise, after losing the 2021 season thanks primarily to this Carson Wentz experiment, they’ll start their rebuild behind schedule by missing out on their 2022 first-round pick. And at this rate, thanks to the implosion of the Carson Wentz experiment, that pick -- currently ninth according to tankathon.com -- will be a pretty damn good one.

You know what the Colts need to do, and they’re shaking in Philadelphia, but here’s where this story turns positive. Because I have good news … for Philadelphia.

The Colts have a track record of taking an obviously bad situation and making it worse.  [indystar.com]

From there, Doyel discusses the Colts' disastrous 2019 season and how their refusal to part ways with Adam Vinatieri despite him having an awful season ultimately made matters worse. And while Wentz is far from a franchise legend — and you'd think they'd have learned their lesson — Reich does love Wentz and Ballard risked a lot bringing the QB in at such a high cost. That alone could be enough to keep Wentz in the starting role. 

Beyond that, the Colts don't have much of anything else to go with at QB. If they had, maybe this decision would be easier for them. Of course, you can't just forget what happened in Philly in 2020 when the Eagles drafted Jalen Hurts. If you bench Wentz and put in a younger QB to replace him, you risk ruining Wentz's mental state almost immediately after giving him the fresh start everyone agreed he needed. We saw it happen in Philly — and Reich clearly was paying attention — so that also might be enough to keep Wentz under center for the Colts.

Still, Wentz's play could continue to worsen, especially if rumors continue about him possibly being replaced as the starter. And there's no way to control that other than by playing well and winning games, which makes this a real quagmire for the Colts QB. 

That's when Doyel went in on Wentz. After praising his performance through much of the month of October — Wentz went 3-1 while completing 68.1% of his passes for 1,003 yards, eight TDs and no INTs (a 119.5 passer rating) from Oct. 3-24 — the veteran columnist said that's not who Wentz really is...

He’s a disaster waiting to happen, like those two interceptions he threw Sunday to let this must-win game against Tennessee slip away, and that interception or fumble or whatever the officials finally called it in San Francisco, when the Colts had the ball at the 49ers’ 4-yard line and Wentz, in the rain and on the run, tried to shovel the ball to safety and shoveled it right to the 49ers.

We knew coming into the season that Wentz was capable of that. He has the fearless creativity of Brett Favre, but the hopeless ceiling of Jared Goff. It’s a bad combination, and over time we’re seeing the complete Carson Wentz experience, and it’s nauseating... and this is the stat that explains it best: The Colts are 3-5.

His best play the last two weeks? An underthrown deep ball that draws a pass interference. He’s done that four times for 161 yards, leading to three of the Colts’ last eight touchdowns.

To repeat: Carson Wentz’s most reliable recent play is a mistake.  [indystar.com]

And to hear Doyel tell it, the Colts' biggest mistake was trading for Carson Wentz. Or at least attaching that first-round condition to it.

"It’s a circular nightmare, that hellish spot where Dante’s Divine Comedy meets his Inferno, and it’s the Colts’ fault," writes Doyel. "They did this to themselves."

All that matter now is what the Colts do next. Will they stick with Wentz in the hopes that getting him right is more important than the difference between the 9th pick and the 41st? Or will they decide to sit him down once the season is more or less over? 

Eagles fans will certainly be watching closely.


Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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