Carson Wentz: Past His Prime and the Implications of Such

Elijah Moskal, Staff Reporter

3rd and 8. Kyler Murray, signal-caller for the Arizona Cardinals, is backed up to his six-yard line. His team down by 21 before entering the half, the Rams limited his offense to minus 4 yards of total production through four possessions. Murray is set on making a game-altering play. The ball is snapped, and delayed pressure comes off the left side. Murray holds onto the ball in the endzone for far too long, behavior which he rarely exemplifies. The defender leeches onto Murray’s turned back, and he instinctively launches the ball up into the air, as a sack in the endzone would effectively end the game. Unfortunately for him, so would a pick-six. His grenade throw landed right into the hands of a Ram’s defender, who took it a whole three steps into the endzone.

“I have never seen a quarterback panic as easily as he has done. What in the Carson Wentz was that right there?” asked befuddled Monday Night announcer Booger McFarland, seemingly out of nowhere.

Two weeks after Wentz and the Colts had been eliminated from the tournament, the quarterback’s name is still being slandered. He had no affiliation with either team. There are 32 starting quarterbacks in the league and another 40 sitting behind them on the bench. For Wentz to be called out like that by a professional announcer has got to be the sign of all signs that his tenure with the Colts has borne little fruit.  This, unfortunately, is an all too familiar situation for Wentz.

Wentz, who was the number two overall draft pick in 2016 and would-be 2018 MVP if not for a torn ACL, was benched last season for second-round pick Jalen Hurts. He led his team to a 3-8-1 record, throwing for a measly 2,620 yards and averaging over an interception a game. The former MVP candidate seemed to be only a shell of his previous self after losing his health, coach, and offensive coordinator. 

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it — it wasn’t fun,” said Wentz after first being traded to the Colts. “It’s not fun when things were going well for years and all those things… As a man, you have to look yourself in the mirror and learn from it and become a better man, better player. It wasn’t fun, it was difficult, but I did everything I could to be supportive of Jalen [Hurts] and my teammates.” 

Still, going to the Colts, where the head coach was his offensive coordinator during the MVP season, was bound to kick-start Wentz’s bounce back. Vegas gave him 8/1 odds to win comeback player of the year prior to the beginning of the season, and by the end of the season, the team consisted of a league-high seven pro bowlers. One of which, Jonathan Taylor, was the best running back in the league this year. He led the company in rushing yards and touchdowns by a significant amount, with over 500 yards and three touchdowns past the next closest back. The perfect recipe for Wentz should have been brewed, yet it seems as if it wasn’t meant to be once again.

Wentz ended the season 26th in completion percentage, 26th in yards per game, 20th in yards per attempt, and 23rd in average passer rating. Considering there are only 32 starters, those stats aren’t reaching the desired mark. Combine that with the literal choke of the decade, a loss to the worst team in the league that prevented a Super Bowl contender from making the playoffs, and the questions mounting against Wentz once again begin to mount up. 

“I’m not gonna. … I won’t make a comment on who’s gonna be here next year and who’s not gonna be here next year. That’s not fair to any player. I thought Carson did some good things and I thought there was a lot of things he needs to do better. Our passing game has to be better.” said Colts general manager Chris Ballard. The implication from the statement is that he’s going to give a long, hard look at all options before making any decisions.

If Ballard was to cut Wentz before March 19th, the team would absorb $15 million against their space this year, but no further cap hit. This year, the Colts are on track to have about $50 million in cap space, so money does not seem to be a problem. What is though, is the fact that they traded away their first-round pick next year in exchange for Wentz. Along with that, this year’s free-agent quarterback class is one to be forgotten. To cut him after one season with no plan for the future would bring questions about the insight of Ballard.

An extremely tough offseason is in store for the Colts, one which can light a flame under the seats of Frank Reich and Ballard if not articulately performed. What Ballard should do is talk with the owner about the situation with Wentz. The ideal plan is to keep him for one more year, optimistic he pans out, but more than prepared for the case in which that doesn’t happen. In 2023, if history repeats itself, which it very likely will, cut ties with Wentz and escape quarterback purgatory. For the sake of dedicated Colts fans, Chris Ballard, Jim Irsay, Frank Reich, and Carson Wentz, a concrete blockade must be placed at the end of the tunnel. No more dancing around playing the “what if,” game. Wentz must go after this upcoming season.