Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich has been very professional and diplomatic this offseason when discussing former Colts quarterback Carson Wentz. In fact, ESPN staff writer John Keim reported on March 19 that Reich called Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera and congratulated him on acquiring Wentz.
However, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay does not share the same good feelings for Wentz that Reich does. While speaking at the NFL’s Annual League Meeting in Palm Beach, FL, Irsay indirectly called acquiring Wentz last offseason a mistake.
“I think the worst thing you can do is have a mistake and try to keep living with it going forward,” Irsay said, via Colts Insider Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star. “For us, it was something we had to move away from as a franchise. It was very obvious.”
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Carson Wentz a Scapegoat for 2021 Colts?
In many ways, Wentz bounced back with a decent 2021 season after a very disappointing 2020 campaign. He led his team to three times as many wins last season than the year prior while posting 27 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions. In 2020, he had a league-leading 15 interceptions.
Wentz also averaged 6.9 yards per pass, which was his highest average since 2018, with the Colts.
But he was inconsistent and played poorly in the final two games when the Colts needed one more win to secure a playoff berth.
In those final two games, both losses, Wentz averaged just 5.95 yards per pass. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 18, he posted a 58.62% completion percentage with 185 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
“No disrespect to Jacksonville, but I mean, they’re the worst team in the league,” Irsay said. “You play well and hard for the first quarter or so, and they’re looking to go to their locker room and clean it out. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.
“You say, ‘My God, there’s something wrong here.’ It needs to be corrected. I think that we feel like we did.'”
While Irsay placed a lot of blame on Wentz, Reich has not.
“Carson played a lot of good football,” Reich told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network in an interview on March 27. “We did a lot of good things as a team, he did a lot of good things as a quarterback. Three quarters of the year we were one of the teams to beat, one of the teams everybody was talking about.
“And then we had a pretty big time collapse in the last two weeks of the season, and we all take responsibility for that, starting with me as a head coach. What would be unfair is to make Carson the scapegoat.”
Matt Ryan & Colts “Needed Each Other”
Even though Reich has been unwilling to speak negatively about Wentz, the coach still acknowledged to Pelissero that the Colts needed a quarterback like Matt Ryan.
“I think everyone saw from the outside that this is a good fit,” Reich said. “Like, people can universally agree you got a guy who’s still playing at a high level with a team and roster that is built to make some noise. We needed each other.”
Ryan was Mr. Everything for the Atlanta Falcons over 15 seasons. The franchise drafted him third overall in the 2008 draft, and he promptly led the organization to their first back-to-back winning seasons in 2008-09.
Ryan and the Falcons posted at least 10 wins in four of his first five seasons. Then in 2016, he became NFL MVP and led Atlanta to its second Super Bowl.
But the Falcons have faced salary cap problems the last few seasons, which has made it difficult for the team to build a capable roster around Ryan.
Last July, Atlanta traded top wide receiver Julio Jones and then his replacement, Calvin Ridley, did not play much in 2021 because of his mental health. The NFL then suspended Ridley indefinitely on March 7 for betting on NFL games.
Ryan will turn 37 in May and has two years remaining on his contract. The Colts present him a better opportunity to finally win the Super Bowl than the Falcons do.
For Irsay, Ryan corrects a one-year mistake the Colts made at quarterback.