The Indianapolis Colts didn't plan on missing the playoffs in Carson Wentz's first season as their starting quarterback, even after their 1-4 start to the season. Indianapolis rallied to win eight of its next 10 games and needed to just win one of its final two games to clinch a playoff berth.
The Colts failed to seize the opportunity, missing the playoffs entirely after falling to the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars, the latter of which finished with the worst record in the NFL. Wentz played a huge role in the collapse, completing just 58.9% of his passes for 333 yards with two touchdowns and an interception (80.6 rating) in the final two games.
That's not exactly what the Colts gave up first- and third-round picks for, leaving more questions than answers regarding the quarterback position in Indianapolis. The Colts did win 11 games and made the playoffs with Philip Rivers in 2020, yet failed to match that win total and make the postseason with a younger quarterback reunited with the head coach that made him an MVP candidate four years ago.
Frank Reich still believes in Carson Wentz. He's the quarterback going forward.
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"I think Carson did a lot. I mean, I think we're a team. I think he's our quarterback," Reich said. "I think we're all going to learn and grow from this year, you know, how to utilize every player that we have to the fullest. I think there were a lot of bright moments for him, for Carson.
"I certainly think when you look at the overall year, there was a lot of bright spots on this team in general. There's still a lot of positives that you take from it. The one thing I will say that I said in the locker room is you got to have the maturity to understand that even though there could be a finality to this season, you can't just let it be in vain. You can't let it be in vain. You've got to learn from it."
Wentz completed 62.4% of his passes for 3,563 yards with 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions for a 94.6 passer rating, a bounce-back season after he was one of the worst quarterbacks in football in his final season with the Philadelphia Eagles. Wentz wasn't as good in the second half as he was the first half, completing 61.1% of his passes for for 1,365 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions (87.1 rating). He averaged just 170.6 yards per game compared to 244.2 in the first half of the year, where Wentz completed 63.3% of his passes for 2,198 yards with 17 touchdowns to three interceptions (100.1 rating).
Wentz was clearly a different quarterback the final eight games of the season and the Colts paid the price.
"It's one I'm going to look long and hard at personally," Wentz said. "You know, where could I have been better? What could I have done? ... An up-and-down season as well. A lot of good memories made. A lot of great guys in that locker room, great guys in that organization, men and women. It's a cool place. I'm grateful to be here. It obviously just wasn't the finish that we were looking for."
Wentz should be back in Indianapolis in 2022, but the Colts will have to take a hard look at their roster and how they can make sure their quarterback can manage a 17-game season going forward. Next year will be crucial for Wentz and his future with the Colts organization.