Carson Wentz, formerly the savior of the Philadelphia Eagles, is now officially the savior of the Indianapolis Colts, the designated hitter to take them to the Promised Land.
Even though the word lottery is more often applied to NBA draft choices, it is possible the Colts won the lottery with the acquisition of Wentz in a trade for some draft picks.
This is a gamble worth taking, a deal worth making, with a potential payoff of major proportions. This is the Colts picking up a new starting quarterback after his first marriage ended in divorce.
Not so long ago, Wentz was a key component on a Super Bowl championship team, the quarterback of the future for the Eagles. Then the Eagles drafted Jalen Hurts and last year benched Wentz after he started throwing interceptions with uncharacteristic frequency.
There is no patience in the NFL. In an era when the best QBs complete two-thirds of their passes and have touchdown-interception ratios that border on the absurd, breaking out in a rash of interceptions can be a career killer.
However, just last year, the Colts ignored football gossip indicating Philip Rivers was washed up and paid him handsomely as a one-year fill-in. That worked out well with Rivers leading Indianapolis to an 11-5 record and the playoffs. He would have been happily welcomed back but chose retirement.
Wentz is a decade younger and has tremendous upside. He had an off-year, but there is no indication he can’t be a long-term leader. This is another case of Colts head man Frank Reich’s connections bringing in an experienced quarterback he had a good rapport with elsewhere.
Wentz went to North Dakota State and said he hit it off with Reich when the coach scouted him before the draft coming out of college and more so when they were both in Philadelphia.
“We had a connection (from the start),” Wentz said Thursday afternoon in a meet-the-guy Zoom press conference. “I’m super excited about getting to work with him again.”
They talked the same language in Philly, X’s, O’s and other letters. So this was not a trade Wentz minded at all.
Wentz was peppered with questions that gave him plenty of opportunity to dis his former team and Hurts, but he was not baited. No problem with Hurts and nothing bad to say about Philly, Wentz said genially, just an appreciation for a new chapter in his career in a new city.
The Rivers era lasted a minute and a half in Indiana, but the Colts are expecting the Wentz era to last much longer. He is 29 with five years of NFL experience. In 2017, Wentz tossed 33 touchdown passes and seven interceptions before getting injured and turning over the keys to the offense to Nick Foles for the playoffs.
Last season was not a great one, though as Wentz pointed out, it was not a great one for anybody pretty much anywhere in the world given the COVID-19 pandemic. He said there were trying times and it wasn’t as easy to bond with teammates through Zoom meetings rather than in person.
Not much of what people lived through last year made sense, and not much of Wentz’s season of 16 TDs and 15 interceptions did, either.
“There are a lot of things in this life you just can’t predict,” Wentz said. “Obviously, the year didn’t go the way we planned, as I planned.”
Wentz should be a good match with the Colts. They need a new quarterback but have a good defense, offensive line and collection of offensive weapons in place. There is a built-in connection with Reich.
Wentz’s comment about this being “an incredible opportunity” for him is no exaggeration. The Colts, he said, have already begun building something special, and that vision coincides with the team leadership’s view.
Describing himself as a “competitor” who wants to win, he said he will “dive in” to fixing any mistakes from last year.
After being the anointed one in Philadelphia from rookie year on, it was tough on Wentz when he was benched.
“It wasn’t fun,” he said when he realized and was essentially told he was no longer “the guy.” It was “bittersweet.”
“For five years, I gave everything I had on and off the field,” Wentz said. “I poured my heart and soul into that city.”
And now, Wentz pledged, he will do the same for his new city.
The playbook handed from Reich to Wentz is supposed to make Indianapolis a champion.