Frank Reich Avoids Committing to Carson Wentz as Colts Starting QB Next Season

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 11, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 19: Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Frank Reich talks with Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Carson Wentz (2) during the NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Indianapolis Colts on September 19, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich sidestepped a question Monday about whether Carson Wentz would return as the team's starting quarterback in 2022.

"We loved the team we had this year, we knew everyone we brought in this year, we expected to play winning football," Reich told reporters "Next year's roster will be next year's roster. I don't want to open it up about one player and then start talking about all of them."

The Colts posted a 9-8 record and missed the playoffs in the first season after acquiring Wentz from the Philadelphia Eagles to lead the offense.

Wentz put together a solid campaign from a statistical standpoint. He completed 62.4 percent of his throws for 3,563 yards with 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions across 17 games. He ranked 10th in ESPN's Total QBR (54.4) and received a solid 70.9 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.

Context is a major factor in the discussion about his future, though.

The Colts featured a dominant rushing attack, led by MVP candidate Jonathan Taylor, which forced opponents to bring more defenders in to the box and opened up plenty of one-on-one matchups for Wentz in the passing game.

When Indianapolis needed the aerial attack to come through, it rarely did. Wentz threw for just 333 yards combined over the final two games of the regular season—back-to-back losses to the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars that knocked Indy out of the playoffs.

"We've got to be better in the passing game," Reich said. "It was definitely below our standards, and there's multiple reasons for that. We have to take ownership of that as coaches and players."

The tough part for the Colts, even if they wanted to consider a change under center, is the lack of intriguing options available. There are no standout options ticketed for free agency, and it's not the strongest draft class at the position, so the route to a clear upgrade would likely be a blockbuster trade.

Otherwise, Indy is likely best off keeping Wentz, who's under contract through 2024, as their starter next season.

"We'll take it piece by piece," Reich said. "We'll evaluate [Wentz's] play. We'll evaluate how we're coaching him, how I'm coaching him, with each position in the pass game. Take it apart piece by piece, and then put it back together."

The bottom line is the Colts fell short of expectations this season by missing the playoffs, so it's not a major surprise Reich is unwilling to make a firm commitment at the sport's most important position.

Barring an unexpected trade, however, it's likely Wentz returns in 2022.