Colts Owner Jim Irsay Takes Issue With Carson Wentz’s Playing Style, Subtly Calls out His Potential Vaccination Status: ‘It’s Harder to Depend on Someone if They’re Not Vaccinated’

The Indianapolis Colts have barely made it through two games in the 2021 NFL season, and the Carson Wentz experience has already been a roller coaster. After missing a significant portion of training camp with a foot injury, Wentz made it back to the field for Week 1 only to sprain both his ankles in the team’s second game of the season.

Wentz’s foot issue just appeared to be a weird injury that may have happened in high school. But the ankles, as well as some of his past health issues with the Philadelphia Eagles, are partially due to his leave-it-all-out-there playing style. So, because of Wentz putting his availability in jeopardy by not protecting his body on the field — as well as off of it by potentially not being vaccinated — Colts owner Jim Irsay recently held his quarterback accountable with some comments to the media.

Quarterback Carson Wentz sprained two ankles in the Colts’ loss to the Rams

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz during a game against the Seahawks.
Carson Wentz of the Indianapolis Colts during a game against the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 12, 2021. | Michael Hickey/Getty Images

After battling his foot injury during training camp, Carson Wentz has played well for the Colts through the team’s first two games.

Wentz has thrown for 498 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception in losses to the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams. He has also completed 65.2% of his passes. 

However, Indianapolis had a chance to win with a little over two minutes left in the game against LA. The team trailed 27-24 and had the ball, but Wentz couldn’t go back into the contest due to the ankle injuries. So, backup Jacob Eason then played in his place and threw an interception with about 2:15 left, leading to the Colts’ eventual loss.

After the game, news came out that Wentz actually sprained both his ankles, and his status for the team’s Week 3 contest against the Tennessee Titans was up in the air. ESPN’s Chris Mortenson, though, reported on Saturday that he is expected to start.

Wentz has certainly displayed a significant amount of toughness in Indy so far, but that isn’t going to keep the team’s owner from still being critical of him.

Colts owner Jim Irsay took issue with his quarterback’s playing style

Irsay recently spoke to the media while at a private event on Sept. 25, and he kept it real about Wentz’s availability.

“I know he wants to go (against the Titans); I know how hard he’s worked, I know he’s respected in the locker room and all those sorts of things, but he has to stay healthy,” Irsay said, per a video from FOX 59’s Chris Hagan. “No one’s hiding behind the MO of the past; that was there. Since we’ve came here and have been going through the months we’ve gone through, there’s been difficulties.”

It’s unclear what Irsay was referring to in his last sentence, but he was likely referencing Wentz’s struggles on the Philadelphia Eagles and how he has since battled injuries with the Colts as well.

Irsay added: “We have to protect him better, and he has to make sure on his runs and escapes [he] protects himself more,” per Zak Keefer of The Athletic.

The owner didn’t stop there, though. He also brought up the quarterback’s potential COVID-19 vaccination status.

Wentz hasn’t revealed whether he’s vaccinated or not, but, earlier in September, he said, “I’m not going to go in-depth on why, but it’s a personal decision for me and my family,” per The Athletic.

“It also makes it difficult if you’re not vaccinated,” Irsay said, per Hagan. “Because it’s harder to depend on someone if they’re not vaccinated. So, I mean they have freedom of choice and we understand that, but we’re hoping he can come back and play well.”

Irsay didn’t come out and say Wentz’s name when discussing vaccinations, but he certainly seemed to be talking about his QB.

The situation isn’t a great one for Wentz, given all the drama that surrounded his departure from Philly. But whether you agree with Irsay’s comments or not, he’s right about one thing: The Colts need their quarterback healthy.

Carson Wentz — if healthy — makes the Colts a potential playoff team

The simple fact of the matter is that Carson Wentz needs to be playing quarterback for the Colts. If he’s hurt or on the reserve/COVID-19 list, he can’t do that.

With Wentz healthy, the Colts are potentially a playoff team. They have one of the best rosters in football with guys like Quenton Nelson and Jonathan Taylor on offense and All-Pros Darius Leonard and DeForest Buckner on defense. 

If the former Eagles star can’t play, though, Indy either has to turn to Jacob Eason, a second-year player whose five career pass attempts all came in relief of Wentz in Week 2, or Brett Hundley, who hasn’t seen any substantial playing time since starting for an injured Aaron Rodgers on the Green Bay Packers in 2017.

Those are, obviously, significantly worse options.

All in all, Wentz has played well so far this season and has proven he can potentially turn his career around in Indy. But he needs to stay on the field to do that, and if he doesn’t start protecting his body — in more ways than one — he simply won’t be out there.

Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference

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