Chris Ballard Says Playoff Berth Might Not Have Changed Carson Wentz’s Fate

Carson Wentz

Getty Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard implied the Colts may have traded quarterback Carson Wentz this offseason even if the team had gone to the playoffs.

By all indications, the Week 18 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars has shaped the complexion of the Indianapolis offseason this spring. Quarterback Carson Wentz played poorly in the regular season finale, which led to the Colts missing the playoffs and acquiring new signal caller Matt Ryan.

But had the Indianapolis Colts beaten the Jaguars and made the postseason, Wentz still could have been traded this offseason. At least that’s what Colts general manager Chris Ballard implied when asked about it by NFL Insider Mike Florio of PFT.

Ballard said that regardless of the season finale result, the team was always going to evaluate Wentz and the quarterback market during the offseason.

“I think we still would’ve had some hard discussions,” Ballard said while appearing on PFTPM on May 4. “Just the way we played down the stretch, and we knew we needed to make some improvements in that area.

“I think even if we would’ve ended up in the playoffs, we would’ve had some hard discussions going forward.”

Yes, the bottom fell out for Wentz in the 26-11 loss to the Jaguars, but Wentz didn’t play very well in the final month of the season.

Although he led the Colts to a 3-2 record, he posted a 61.0% completion percentage and 773 passing yards in the last five regular season games. Wentz averaged 154.6 passing yards per game and 6.6 yards per attempt during that stretch.

Furthermore, in the final eight games, Wentz threw for more than 200 yards in a contest just twice.

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Colts Not Afraid to Fix a Problem

Indianapolis hasn’t been able to maintain any consistency behind center since hiring Ballard as general manager in 2017. But the Colts aren’t going to be an organization striving for continuity just for the sake of continuity.

If there’s an issue keeping the team from winning, Ballard says the Colts will “move forward” in a way that makes the team better.

“The one thing I think [owner] Jim [Irsay] and I and [coach] Frank [Reich] — we’re all pretty good at — when we know something’s not a good fit, don’t just try to justify it,” said Ballard.

“We all knew we were going to get egg on our face [trading Wentz]. That is what it is, but at the end of the day, it’s about doing the right thing for the organization.”

Wins and losses are obviously important, but sometimes, the NFL is too much of a result-driven league. If Ballard and others in the organization had their doubts about Wentz before Week 18, then a playoff berth shouldn’t have change that.

If anything, the Jaguars loss just confirmed the concerns the Colts had with Wentz all along.

Carson Wentz’s Inconsistencies in 2021

Wentz posted a passer rating great than 100 in four straight games during October. That helped the Colts get back on track after they started the season 0-3.

But Wentz continued to be up and down through the last 10 games. He threw two interceptions in both high-scoring losses to the Tennessee Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Against the New York Jets, though, Wentz threw three touchdowns and led the Colts to 45 points.

At the Arizona Cardinals on Christmas Day, Wentz was terrific, completing 18 of 28 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns. The victory moved Indianapolis within one win of a playoff berth.

But Wentz and the Colts fell the following week against the Las Vegas Raiders and then ended the season with the debacle at Jacksonville.

Wentz finished last season with 3,563 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He completed 62.4% of his passes and averaged 6.9 yards per pass.

Those aren’t bad numbers. Wentz was better statistically across the board during 2021 than he was in 2020. But touchdown passes was the only major category where he finished in the top 10 around the league. Wentz ended the year 22nd in yards per attempt and 25th in completion percentage.

In Matt Ryan, the Colts will be getting an older but much more consistent quarterback. Ryan has thrown for at least 3,900 yards and 20 touchdowns in each of the last 11 seasons.

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