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Colts coach defends Carson Wentz, believes QB will rebound in 2021

Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich is strongly defending his new quarterback Carson Wentz. Will Wentz justify Reich's stance and bounce back in 2021?

The Indianapolis Colts are putting all their potential championship hopes on quarterback Carson Wentz in 2021, and despite a disastrous final season in Philadelphia, Colts head coach Frank Reich believes the signal-caller will shine this year.

Reich tersely dismissed the notion that Wentz is damaged goods, and suggested big things are in store for the QB who was an MVP candidate in 2017 when Reich was the Eagles’ offensive coordinator, per NFL.com’s Kevin Patra:

“I just cringe when I hear stuff like that. […] Playing the position of quarterback, there are so many factors that go into it. We talked about why the poor play last year […] But I’m confident that we got the right player.

“[…] I love sticking my neck out for people I believe in. I’m willing to put it on the line for players that you believe in. I believe in this team, I believe in Carson.”

Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich on QB Carson Wentz

Ever since Wentz went down with a major knee injury amid a potential 2017 MVP campaign, he hasn’t been quite the same. The widely held perception is that it has lots to do with Reich’s departure to Indianapolis.

Now that the Colts have Wentz reunited with Reich, the expectation is that the 28-year-old field general bounces back. Or at least that’s the hope, but it is nice for Wentz that Reich is so confidently in his corner.

Based on the fact that Wentz had just 16 touchdown passes to 15 interceptions, completed 57.4% of his passes, took 50 sacks and had a 72.8 passer rating last season, there’s obvious reason for skepticism.

Let’s take a look at what Wentz’s 2021 stat line could look like and how that compares to the debacle that led him to the Colts in the first place.

Projected Carson Wentz stats, outlook for 2021 NFL season

Projected Carson Wentz stats, outlook for 2021 NFL season
Dec 20, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
  • 4,200 yards passing, 62.5% completion rate (550 attempts), 24 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 90.7 passer rating

An improved offensive line from the patchwork unit he worked with in Philadelphia, combined with the presence of Jonathan Taylor in the backfield, should help Wentz rally from an awful 2020 campaign and improve his numbers across the board.

The above numbers aren’t spectacular, and that’s in part because Indianapolis has a lot of unproven receivers. T.Y. Hilton is a veteran without the deep-speed chops he once had, Parris Campbell is a total wild card who’s failed to stay healthy in two seasons, and Michael Pittman Jr. is only an NFL sophomore.

Also to consider is that Indy’s new left tackle, Eric Fisher, tore his Achilles in the AFC Championship Game and probably won’t be ready until midseason. That’s a big concern, and something Wentz will have to overcome as the season progresses.

A 90.7 passer rating, too, is a generous projection based on where Wentz just was. It’d still have ranked 23rd among qualifying quarterbacks in 2020, just ahead of Jared Goff, and just behind Teddy Bridgewater.

Yes, you can win with that level of quarterback play, yet realizing Super Bowl expectations will prove elusive. Wentz will need to exceed this forecast for Indianapolis to reach the playoffs, much less contend in the AFC.

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