Carson Wentz Has a Chance to Rewrite His Career with Washington Commanders

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2022

ASHBURN, VA - MARCH 17: Quarterback Carson Wentz of the Washington Commanders stands with a helmet after being introduced at Inova Sports Performance Center on March 17, 2022 in Ashburn, Virginia. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

As Carson Wentz prepares to suit up for a third team in three years, he must understand this may be his last chance at a starting job in the NFL. Nonetheless, he could turn his career around after returning to the NFC East with the Washington Commanders.

A week before the official start of free agency, the Commanders acquired Wentz, a second-round pick and a seventh-round pick from the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a second-rounder and a third-rounder along with a conditional 2023 third-rounder. Washington also agreed to take on his full contract, per ESPN's Adam Schefter, which carries a $28.3 million cap hit in 2022.

Regardless of whether the Commanders believed in Wentz enough to take on his sizable deal and sacrifice draft capital or made the move out of desperation, they have the right head coach and the supporting cast to help him flourish in Washington.

Without a doubt, Wentz has the arm talent to make spectacular plays and breathe life into an offense. Though he can be inconsistent, the seventh-year signal-caller has a decent resume of passing production, with 140 touchdown passes and 57 interceptions with a 62.6 percent completion rate.

In 2021 with the Colts, Wentz threw for 3,563 yards, 27 touchdowns and just seven interceptions in a run-heavy offense that featured running back Jonathan Taylor, who rushed for a league-leading 1,811 yards and 18 touchdowns, and one consistent pass-catcher in wideout Michael Pittman Jr.

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 09: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) makes a pass attempt in the second half during the game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Jacksonville Jaguars on January 9, 2022 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, FL (P
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In the final two weeks of the 2021 campaign and with a playoff berth on the line, Wentz played poorly, completing 58.9 percent of his passes for 166.5 yards per game. Nonetheless, his tenure soured long before the Colts' late-season collapse, per The Athletic's Zak Keefer.

"As for the Colts, the issues with Wentz stretched back to before the season began, one source said, and over the course of the year, some grew frustrated at what they deemed a lack of leadership, a resistance to hard coaching and a reckless style of play, which had a role in several close losses this year," Keefer wrote.

Based on talent alone, Wentz has the qualities of a middling starter. He can help a team win games, but his boneheaded mistakes have led to costly turnovers and a low completion rate. The 29-year-old also seems to lack leadership traits, which reportedly shortened his time in Indianapolis and might have led to his departure from the Philadelphia Eagles.

According to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, people within the Eagles' organization believed that the team's decision to select quarterback Jalen Hurts in the second round of the 2020 draft adversely impacted Wentz's confidence and performance, though he denied it two years ago.

Wentz's lack of desirable intangibles in a leadership position hurts his standing as a starting-caliber quarterback in the NFL. Luckily, head coach Ron Rivera's strong personality as the leader of the team should ease the burden on Wentz.

In his introductory press conference, Rivera talked about a culture shift in Washington with a no-nonsense attitude.

Washington Commanders @Commanders

Head Coach Ron Rivera is ready to build a player-centered culture with a coach-centered approach. 🔗: https://t.co/3YTGnagpsB https://t.co/1h4MxLkO3d

Rivera has highlighted accountability in the past, but he's willing to take the blame as long as players follow the program. This makes for a good environment for Wentz, who's justifiably taken criticism at every stop in his career.

Despite ongoing investigations into the franchise for allegations of sexual harassment and financial improprieties, Rivera can still change the culture within the locker room and put players in positions to succeed on the field. The well-respected head coach led Washington to a division title in his first year with the club and won seven games in back-to-back years despite instability at the quarterback position. The Commanders have started six different signal-callers over the past two seasons.

Even though starting quarterbacks require leadership, Rivera will have the most prominent voice in the room. Wentz just needs to follow the team's plan and play to the best of his ability. The Commanders have a supporting cast that can help him in that regard.

While Wentz had a statistically decent 2021 campaign with the Colts, he'll have more perimeter playmakers around him in Washington.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 21: Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin (17) prior to the National Football League game between the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday, December 21, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in
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Despite the revolving door at quarterback, Terry McLaurin has emerged as a productive No. 1 wide receiver with 222 catches for 3,090 yards and 16 touchdowns through three seasons.

The Commanders selected Penn State wideout Jahan Dotson, who averaged 15.1 yards per catch at the collegiate level, with the No. 16 overall pick in the draft.

Bleacher Report NFL scout Nate Tice highlighted Dotson's quarterback-friendly qualities.

"Dotson is a very good athlete who is dangerous with the ball in his hands and has the long speed to take the top off defenses. He is also a very good route-runner, already showing an extended route tree and the polish to win on a variety of different routes at all three levels. He also has natural hands that allow him to maximize his size. He is consistently comfortable extending away from his body on throws both high and low. This trait also shows up when working back to the quarterback, which allows him to come down with throws in traffic."

The Commanders have an established veteran wideout and a rookie who can stretch the field with the ability to make big catches when the quarterback extends plays, which meshes well with Wentz's mobility in the pocket.

If wide receiver Curtis Samuel and tight end Logan Thomas stay healthy, they can become solid third and fourth targets. The former saw a steady increase in his receiving numbers in four years with the Carolina Panthers, and the latter recorded 72 receptions for 670 yards and six touchdowns with the Commanders in 2020. Both missed more than 10 games last year.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - JANUARY 09: Antonio Gibson #24 of the Washington Football Team carries the ball in the first quarter of the game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on January 09, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Els
Elsa/Getty Images

Out of the backfield, running backs Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic can catch the ball, combining for 201 receptions for 1,527 yards and seven touchdowns over the past two seasons with the team. Wentz doesn't have to force big plays downfield with a pair of reliable pass-catching backs who can move the chains on short passes.

Wentz doesn't even have to lead a top-10 scoring offense with a defense that ranked fourth in points and second in yards allowed just two years ago. With an aggressive pass-rushing front that features Chase Young, Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen and Montez Sweat up front, Washington's defensive unit could bounce back after ranking 25th and 22nd in points and yards, respectively, for the 2021 season. Of course, Young has to recover from a torn ACL and perform at a level close to his 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year form.

If the Commanders field a decent defense in the upcoming campaign, Wentz should be able to lead them to several wins. He has multiple weapons in the passing game and an offensive line that will return three players who started in at least eight contests during the previous term. Furthermore, the five-man unit welcomes a solid pass-blocking guard in Andrew Norwell, who allowed three sacks through 1,078 snaps last year, per Pro Football Focus.

With Rivera, a solid supporting cast on offense, and a defense not far removed from a dominant season, Wentz's career can take a positive turn in Washington.


Player contracts details are provided by Over the Cap.

Maurice Moton covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.