Bowles: Why Carson Wentz will thrive in Indianapolis with Frank Reich at the helm

<p></p>

Charleston Bowles is a sophomore news journalism major. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper. Write to Charleston at clbowles@bsu.edu.

Whether you love or hate the move, the Indianapolis Colts have officially acquired Carson Wentz from the Philadelphia Eagles. 

The trade was made official Wednesday, March 17 at 4 p.m, when the National Football League’s new year officially opened.

With such a polarizing figure arriving to a roster that hopes to win now, what should Colts fans expect of the quarterback moving forward?

Well, let’s take a look at what the former 2016 No.2 overall pick from North Dakota State did the last time he was paired with Colts head coach Frank Reich. 

In his first two seasons in the NFL, Reich served as Wentz’s offensive coordinator in Philadelphia. In his rookie year, Wentz endured some roadblocks but flashed potential with his strong frame and ability to keep plays alive. Entering his sophomore campaign, many around the league expected him to take a leap. 

The 2017-2018 season proved to be more than a leap. Wentz ascended to one of the most discussed players in the league, and for good reason. He was in the midst of a career year under Reich and Eagles' head coach Doug Pederson. Through 13 games, Wentz had compiled 33 touchdowns to only seven interceptions, both of which stand as career-bests to this day.

He also held a 78.5 QBR, another career-high that still stands today. Wentz had firmly placed himself as the front-runner for the most valuable player award. Most people around the league were discussing if the 6’5, 237lbs second-year quarterback had already entered the elite quarterback discussion. 

The Eagles sat at 11-2 record through 13 games, and Wentz seemed to be destined to lead the organization on a Super Bowl run. However, in a Week 14 bout with the Los Angeles Rams, tragedy struck as Wentz suffered a season-ending ACL injury. 

Since that day, there has been a downward spiral narrative associated with Wentz. Some might attribute his poor performance to the looming pressure from his notable backups (Nick Foles, Jalen Hurts). Others might say his injuries (undisclosed back injury, concussion) have plagued him more than he would like to admit. 

I believe Wentz's recent struggles directly relate to the absence of Reich, who left to fill the Colts head coaching vacancy in February 2018. 

In their three years apart, both of their careers have seemingly gone in completely different directions. 

Wentz has seen his level of play dip each season, and the numbers only further the case. In 2020, Wentz threw 15 interceptions and was sacked 50 times (both career-highs). Eventually, Wentz was benched in favor of Hurts, and the conversation of Wentz's future had officially begun. 

Meanwhile, Reich has led the Colts to the playoffs in two of his first three years. During his tenure, the Indianapolis offense has trimmed the line of being ultra-aggressive while keeping efficiency. Despite fielding three different quarterbacks, Reich has found a recipe for success. 

So, where does the history of Wentz and Reich fit in? 

Take a look back at this past season, where Philip Rivers came into Indianapolis written off by many, similar to Wentz. Rivers had worked under Reich with the San Diego Chargers from 2013-2015 and were familiar with his personality and approach to the game. Under Reich, Rivers threw for 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions to help the Colts to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. 

The familiarity and terminology should prove to be just as helpful to Wentz as it was Rivers. In addition, Wentz has a stronger arm and more mobility at this stage of his career than a 39-year-old Rivers did.

Not to mention, general manager Chirs Ballard has built an offensive foundation to support Wentz. The offensive line is a consensus top-five unit in the league while promising pass catchers like Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell mix in with a veteran group of Zach Pascal, Jack Doyle and T.Y Hilton (currently a free agent). Jonathan Taylor, Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines spearhead a versatile backfield. 

Since Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement, Colts fans have had two one-year rentals in Jacoby Brissett and Rivers. With the arrival of Wentz, some might be skeptical due to his recent stretch of poor play. 

Although last season’s performance was not promising, Reich will be a familiar face that helps ease the transition and returns Wentz to his All-Pro level. The Colts organization and fanbase should feel confident with Wentz as their starting quarterback moving forward.

Contact Charleston Bowles with comments at clbowles@bsu.edu or on Twitter @cbowles01.

Comments

More from The Daily






This Week's Digital Issue