Carson Wentz suffering a significant injury in the first week of training camp was not what the Indianapolis Colts envisioned. Wentz will require surgery for the injury and is out 5-12 weeks, the team announced after initially being declared out indefinitely. This is a significant blow for the Colts, who were banking on Wentz to solve their quarterback situation.
The Colts brought Wentz to Indianapolis to become their next franchise quarterback, a proven signal-caller that can lead a Super Bowl-caliber roster. With Wentz’s immediate future uncertain, Indianapolis is back to square one at quarterback — searching for answers as the team seeks a return trip to the playoffs.
What does Indianapolis do at quarterback with Wentz on the mend? Fortunately, the Colts are only through a week of practice and Week 1 isn’t until Sept. 12. There’s plenty of time for the Colts to settle on a quarterback or search outside the organization while Wentz is out.
There are quite a few options for the Colts to consider over the next few weeks.
There are a few quarterbacks with starting experience that could intrigue the Colts to get them through the first few weeks of the season. Foles is a familiar name that has had success in Frank Reich’s offense with the Philadelphia Eagles back in 2017.
Foles, the Super Bowl LII MVP, had a postseason for the ages filling in for Wentz. He completed 72.6% of his passes for 971 yards with six touchdowns to one interception in three games during the Eagles’ Super Bowl run. Reich and former Eagles head coach Doug Pederson used a combination of RPOs to make Foles more comfortable in the offense.
Foles is the third string quarterback on the Chicago Bears, making $6.67 million to sit the bench. The Colts may want to have a reliable backup for Wentz and Foles isn’t a bad alternative. Wentz may not prefer to relive the ghosts of Foles that haunted him in Philadelphia.
Minshew may say he’s competing for the No. 1 job with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he’s the backup to Trevor Lawrence. Unless Lawrence suffers an injury, Minshew isn’t seeing the field and will be holding the clipboard throughout the season.
Imagine Minshew with an actual coaching staff to help him hone his skills? Having John DeFilippo and Jay Gruden as his offensive coordinators didn’t help Minshew develop, despite a decent start to his career.
Minshew has started 20 games for the Jaguars over his two NFL seasons, completing 62.9% of his passes with 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions (93.1 rating). Minshew is 25th in the league in completion percentage, 20th in touchdowns, and and fourth in interception percentage (1.38) since entering the league in 2019. His 93.1 passer rating is the 12th highest for a quarterback after their first two seasons (minimum 500 attempts).
Familiar with the AFC South, having Minshew fill in for Wentz with a more talented offense would help the Colts — especially since their first five opponents each won 10-plus games last season. The Colts need to give themselves a chance or face a disastrous start.
Minshew would give them that opportunity.
Go with the in-house option
The Colts can just roll with Jacob Eason, the current No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart, while Wentz is out. The 2020 fourth-round pick has never taken an NFL snap in the regular season or preseason (there was no preseason in 2020), which will change come August. Colts head coach Frank Reich even said Eason is the starter, but “he has to earn it.”
Eason will have the opportunity to prove to the Colts he can take command of the offense. With a year of NFL experience under his belt, Eason should have a grasp of commanding a huddle and understanding the offense. The lack of game reps is very concerning, even with the Colts’ talented roster.
“He’s getting better every day,” Colts offensive coordinator Marcus Brady said Friday. “The biggest thing is we just want to continue getting him reps. There are plays that he hadn’t seen and this is his first time getting the live rep.
“He’s going to learn from it, he’s going to make the mistakes. He made some good plays, he made some bad plays and we just have to continue to grow and make sure that he’s improving and learning from those mistakes.”
Be patient with Wentz
Wentz’s injury history is well-documented, and he has rushed himself back from a significant knee injury once in his career. While the Colts would like to get him back as early as they can for 2021, the coaching staff needs to let Wentz’s foot heal properly.
This is why adding a veteran quarterback is important. Wentz is the unquestioned starter in Indianapolis and an experienced quarterback gives him an extra week or two to get back into playing shape.
The veteran quarterback pool in free agency isn’t good, which is why the Colts need to seek a signal-caller via trade.
How does this affect the Eagles?
The Eagles traded Wentz to the Colts for a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 second-round pick. That second-round pick can become a first-round pick if Wentz accomplishes these things in 2021:
- Plays 75% of the regular-season snaps or
- Plays 70% of the regular-season snaps and Colts make playoffs
Philadelphia’s chances of Wentz playing 70% of the regular-season snaps aren’t good with surgery required. Another reason why the Colts should take their time with Wentz: they have him under contract until the 2024 season, so there’s no need to rush him back.
The Colts just need to make the best out of a bad situation. The Eagles are still getting a high draft pick for 2022 and already have two first-round picks next year.