The Indianapolis Colts had everything lined up for them on a silver platter. All they had to do was defeat the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars in the regular-season finale to clinch a spot in the NFL playoffs. However, the pressure got to Carson Wentz and company. ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky put Frank Reich’s squad on blast for its embarrassing choke job.
Dan Orlovsky blasts the Colts for embarrassing loss to the Jaguars
The Indianapolis Colts provided one of the biggest stories coming out of Week 18, but not for a good reason.
Indianapolis entered the week with a 9-7 record. The Colts needed just one win to secure a wild-card spot in the AFC playoffs. They were heavy favorites over the 2-14 Jacksonville Jaguars.
With Frank Reich’s crew having everything to play for, it appeared safe to assume it would win pretty easily. However, the Jaguars gave Indianapolis more than it bargained for. Jacksonville dominated throughout the game, stunning the Colts 26-11.
ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky has been a big defender of Carson Wentz this season, but he was disappointed in Indianapolis’ flat performance in the biggest game of the season.
“This loss is on the shoulders of Carson Wentz,” he said on Get Up. “This is one of the worst losses in recent NFL memory. It’s probably one of the worst losses in the history of the Colts organization. Everybody has a hand in this loss.”
Orlovsky elaborated on why he places a good chunk of the blame on the sixth-year quarterback.
“Carson Wentz is not the reason that the Colts lost this game,” he added. “He’s also not the reason they won this game. He was brought here to be the reason in this type of game, the difference-maker in this type of game. Wentz was good this year. He was OK in this game. He was never great, and the Colts expected greatness.”
Carson Wentz and company folded under pressure
Dan Orlovsky is right. Carson Wentz had some good moments during the 2021 NFL season. However, he hasn’t yet taken the next step to becoming a great quarterback.
Indianapolis expects Wentz to be a difference-maker under center, but he struggled against a bottom-of-the-barrel Jaguars defense.
The North Dakota State product completed 17 of 29 pass attempts for 185 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Wentz and the offense just couldn’t get into a consistent rhythm.
The Colts’ rushing attack has been their bread and butter all season long. Jonathan Taylor has played at an MVP level most of the way, but Jacksonville seemed to have an answer for him. The defense held the Pro Bowl running back to 77 yards on 15 carries.
Matt Eberflus’ defense didn’t come to play, either. The Jaguars controlled the time of possession battle and outpaced Indianapolis with 318 yards of total offense.
It was an all-around poor showing for the Colts in the worst possible moment. This team looked like a team no one in the AFC wanted to face in the postseason. However, Indianapolis fumbled the golden opportunity.
Frank Reich’s squad showed much promise toward the end of the season but now must wonder what went wrong.
Where does Indianapolis go from here?
The Indianapolis Colts wrapped up the 2021 season with a 9-8 record. They posted an 11-5 record in 2020, so the step back has to be disappointing for the entire organization.
The front office traded for Carson Wentz, who appeared to be an upgrade over aging veteran Philip Rivers. While the 29-year-old signal-caller had his moments, he could not step up when his team needed him the most.
The loss to the Jaguars isn’t all on Wentz, though. Neither side of the ball played its best game. Regardless of how you slice it, folding in that situation is inexcusable.
Indianapolis was finally playing some good football after starting the season off 0-3. Unfortunately, Jacksonville had something for Frank Reich’s squad. After a tumultuous season, the Jaguars can rest their hats on the fact that they prevented a division rival from making the playoffs.
For the Colts, it’s back to the drawing board this offseason. The roster features talent on both sides of the ball, but the front office must work to tie up loose ends. Indianapolis shouldn’t be too far from contending, but it will need Wentz to take the next step to compete for a Super Bowl in the near future.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.