Carson Wentz is the Indianapolis Colts’ new quarterback, but the move can’t become official until March 17. In the meantime, CNHI Sports Indiana thought it might be beneficial to take a look back at Wentz’s recent past to see if there are any clues for his future. The fifth season of Amazon Prime’s “All or Nothing” series chronicled the 2019 Philadelphia Eagles. This eight-part series will recap those eight episodes with an eye on nuggets of interest to Indy.
EPISODE II: THE NOISE
Early in a Week 4 game at Green Bay, Carson Wentz scrambles trying to make something happen on third down. As he meets a Packers defender in the open field, the quarterback dips his shoulder and initiates contact instead of sliding or stepping out of bounds.
It doesn’t work. Wentz is hog-tied and taken to the ground, sending the punt team onto the field. As he gets up and heads for the sideline, Wentz has some parting words for his opponent.
“Good tackle,” he says, slapping hands with the somewhat stunned defender.
There’s a reason comparisons to former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck were commonplace while Wentz was starring at North Dakota State. For better and for worse, the two men share an on-field stubborn streak.
There’s a common tendency never to give up on a play. In the first episode, Wentz was being tackled from behind and dropping to his knees as he launched a critical third-down completion to backup wide receiver Mack Hollins. It’s not uncommon for him to throw with defenders hanging on to his limbs or to try to force a ball into double- or triple-coverage in an attempt to make something happen.
Wentz clearly takes pride in his ability to extend plays. In the debut episode, he complains to a teammate about officials having an increasingly quick whistle. In this installment, he takes his case straight to the source.
“Don’t blow me down too early,” Wentz tells referee Pete Morelli before the game at Green Bay. “I’ve been getting out of some of these.”
Extending plays, of course, is a double-edged sword. Sometimes the quarterback creates something out of nothing and gives his team a much-needed spark. Other times, it leads to turnovers and helps to dig the hole a little deeper.
The trick is understanding the risk-reward ratio and picking your spots. It’s a fine line Colts head coach Frank Reich successfully walked with Luck in 2018, and it’s likely to play a significant role in Wentz’s ability to succeed in his first season with Indianapolis this fall.
Another key ingredient in that formula? The ability to block out the external noise.
Wentz isn’t even officially on Indianapolis’ roster yet, and everyone seems to have formed a solid opinion on how 2021 will play out for him. To some, it’s a sure bet Reich uncovers his previously flashed potential and gets the quarterback playing again like one of the best in the league. To others, Wentz is beyond repair. There seems to be little middle ground.
That won’t be foreign to a player who spent five years playing in the Philadelphia pressure cooker.
This episode opens with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie speaking in front of a team meeting. He tells the players they have the talent to win, but so do a lot of other teams in the NFL. The key to success, he says, is culture.
The moral of the story is players need to hold each other accountable and ignore outside opinions that don’t affect their daily routine.
The theme is intercut with a disastrous Week 3 loss against the Detroit Lions. Drops again plague Philadelphia in the 27-24 defeat, and much of the postgame vitriol again is directed at wide receiver Nelson Agholor. He’s pilloried by the local media and fan base, while Wentz is still spared their wrath. For now.
One of the themes of this episode revolves around the realization while the quarterback has put up impressive stats, he doesn’t have a lot of signature victories to show for it. Nick Foles won the Super Bowl in his place, and to this point Wentz has yet to even appear in a postseason game.
The must-win game at Green Bay, therefore, is set up as a litmus test. Can the highly paid passer deliver when the team needs him the most?
If Wentz is feeling the stress, it doesn’t show.
Talking to a teammate during pregame warmups, he takes in the unique atmosphere at Lambeau Field with a sense of awe.
“Feels so much like Friday Night Lights right now,” Wentz says, referencing his high school says in North Dakota.
His play turns back the clock as well. In a game that could serve as a template for the Colts in 2021, Wentz tosses three touchdown passes while getting plenty of support from the running game.
A banged up defensive secondary struggles mightily against Aaron Rodgers, but the Eagles make a pair of late goal-line stands – at the 1- and 2-yard line – and escape with a 34-27 win to even their record at 2-2.
Wentz joins the “Thursday Night Football” postgame show on the field as hundreds of Philadelphia fans serenade him from the stands.
He’s asked about the short week, the pressure and the ever-present “noise” in Philly. His answer also could serve as a template for this fall.
“That’s just been my mindset since I came into the league is just blocking out expectations,” Wentz says. “Good, bad, ugly, it doesn’t matter. I put my head down and go to work.”
With Super Bowl expectations running high, Carson Wentz and the Eagles open the 2019 season.
In a quiet episode for Carson Wentz, the defense takes center stage.
The Eagles are tested on and off the field before and after a rivalry game against the Cowboys.
Injuries begin to mount, and some of Carson Wentz's bad habits are on display.
As the Eagles sink into a three-game losing streak, Carson Wentz foreshadows some of his 2020 woes.
With the season in the balance, Carson Wentz plays the hero in a pair of come-from-behind victories.