Washington Commanders starting quarterback Carson Wentz is heading into the 2022 NFL season with many around the league skeptical of his play and attitude. After paying a hefty price to acquire him, it’s clear the Commanders hold a very different evaluation.
Everyone understood coming into the offseason that the Commanders wanted to find a quarterback upgrade. While Taylor Heinicke proved to be a serviceable fill-in starter, he never offered enough to make this team a legitimate contender. The NFL Draft also lacked certainty among the signal-callers. Once Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson quickly ruled out the Commanders, they had to explore alternatives.
- Carson Wentz stats (2021): 62.4% completion rate, 3,563 yards, 27-7 TD-INT ratio, 54.7 QBR
Suddenly, a deal came out of nowhere. Washington traded the 42nd pick, 73rd pick and a conditional 2023 third-round pick to the Indianapolis Colts for Wentz, the 47th pick and the 240th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
It came as a huge surprise to the NFL. The Colts had no success finding another suitor for Wentz, with most believing he’d either be released or Indianapolis would need to cover part of his contract. Instead, Washington absorbed the entire salary and gave up multiple Day 2 picks.
According to Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post, the Commanders’ organization views Wentz as a lot more than a bridge quarterback or a one-year experiment. Instead, head coach Ron Rivera thinks he could be Washington’s long-term solution at quarterback.
The assessment within the organization is a clear sign that Washington won’t be spending one of its top picks on a quarterback. Instead, the front office will likely build a team with the vision of it being a long-term core to support Wentz.
Why the Commanders are making a mistake with Carson Wentz
A year ago, the Colts acquired Wentz holding the same belief he would be their long-term quarterback. Keep in mind, head coach Frank Reich had a strong pre-existing relationship with the quarterback and both the Colts’ coaching staff and offense were better to help get the most out of a passer.
Before the 2021 season even concluded, Indianapolis realized it made a terrible mistake. The Colts, including Reich, became frustrated by Wentz’s inability to handle coaching and the coaching staff never saw improvement in his decision-making.
These are the very same issues the former No. 2 overall pick had in Philadelphia. He clashed with the coaching staff, refusing to take accountability at times and he often pushed back against criticism. It bothered teammates and culminated in the Eagles realizing he couldn’t be their franchise quarterback.
Just looking at the box score would indicate Wentz played fairly well in 2021. Keep in mind that he finished among the bottom 10 starting quarterbacks in bad throw rate (18.8%) and on-target rate (73.7%).
Wentz also didn’t perform well in crucial situations. While he posted a 102.1 passer rating in the first two quarters of games, per Pro Football Reference, it dropped to 89.7 in the second half of regular-season games. He also threw a majority of his interceptions in the fourth quarter and completed just 56.2% of his pass attempts on third downs.
The Commanders overpaid when they didn’t have to, it seems to be the cost of doing business for them. However, the coaching staff and organization selling itself on Wentz as a long-term solution to years of quarterback woes is a mistake. He failed and burned bridges in far better circumstances. A team with far more turmoil isn’t going to result in better circumstances. They’ll likely have learned from their mistake by December