Colts HC Reich on Carson Wentz: 'I Love Sticking My Neck out for People I Believe in'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 18, 2021

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 27: Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on before the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on December 27, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich said Monday he has no problem putting more pressure on himself by betting on a rebound year from quarterback Carson Wentz:

"I think it's a collaborative effort that we work with Carson. But yeah, you stick your neck out for players as a head coach or a GM or a scout or coach—we all do it. As a head coach, sometimes you have a bit more say in it than maybe a position coach. But that's what you love about it. 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. I feel good about it. I do know that his play will reflect the work that he does, the work that our team does, the work that our staff does, all the preparation. But I don't mind being the point person on that."

Reich was the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive coordinator in 2016 and 2017, Wentz's first two NFL seasons. The Colts are hoping that prior relationship can help the 2017 Pro Bowl selection rediscover his prior form.

The 28-year-old North Dakota State product was one of the league's most productive quarterbacks over the three seasons before last year's struggles. He recorded 81 touchdowns and just 21 picks across 40 regular-season games from 2017 through 2019.

If he can return to that level, the Colts will have gotten a steal, as they only traded two draft picks, a 2021 third-rounder and a conditional 2022 second-rounder, to acquire him from Philly in March.

Reich further defended Wentz on Monday, saying he's "very confident" the team has the talent to help him bounce back.

He was asked whether Wentz was "broken" after throwing 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions for the Eagles in 2020:

"I just cringe when I hear stuff like that, not that a player shouldn't be accountable for poor play on the field. Carson has to answer to that, and he has answered to it. And until you get out there and prove otherwise, that's what you live with. But I just know that playing the position of quarterback, there are so many factors that go into it. We talked about why the poor play last year, I'm just very confident that he has a team around him. It's just I think the culture fit.

"You guys know how I feel about the Eagles, how highly I feel about that organization. But sometimes in sports, this is one of those transitions I think it's going to end up being good for both organizations, I think it's going to be good for Carson. I think we got to be patient with it. I think it takes a little bit of time, just like it took Philip [Rivers] a minute and Jacoby [Brissett] a minute. But I'm confident that we got the right player."

Indianapolis doesn't have another proven quarterback—Sam Ehlinger, Jacob Eason and Jalen Morton will compete for the backup role—so the play of Wentz will likely make or break their 2021 campaign.

Reich sounds positive it's a gamble that will pay off for the AFC contenders.