Typically, we’d say that three games, all of which have been relatively competitive losses, might not be enough of a sample size. Tell that to Colts owner Jim Irsay, who all but admitted the experiment has already failed.
Jim Irsay ripped Carson Wentz ahead of the team’s Week 3 loss to Tennessee
The Colts are 0-3, which means they still have a chance at finishing with a winning record by virtue of playing in a weak AFC South division. The extra game also means a 9-8 finish is attainable for a team that’s reached the playoffs twice in the last three years.
Irsay has been around the Colts long enough — his family has owned the franchise since 1972 when the team still played in Baltimore — that he knows anything is possible. However, there’s only so far he’ll go in preaching patience and optimism regarding his new quarterback.
Irsay recently spoke with Indianapolis-based sports anchor Chris Hagan about Wentz’s lingering health issues. The injury-prone quarterback, who missed time this summer with broken bones in his foot, had two sprained ankles leading up to a Week 3 loss against the rival Tennessee Titans.
“I know he’s respected in the locker room and all those sorts of things, but he has to stay healthy. No one’s hiding behind the MO of the past; that was there. Since we’ve [come] here and have been going through the months we’ve gone through; there’s been difficulties.”Jim Irsay
Irsay admitted it’s “harder to depend” on Wentz in part because the quarterback remains unvaccinated. The 2017 Pro Bowl selection spent time on the COVID-list during training camp.
Irsay all but confirmed Wentz is doomed to fail with the Colts
Many professional sports owners still believe in the dreaded vote of confidence. The 62-year-old Irsay is willing to go on the offensive, which is at least a welcome change from safe answers and coach speak.
If Irsay is already saying the Colts can’t depend on Wentz to stay healthy, what does that say about the quarterback’s future in Indianapolis? It took two games and eight quarters for the owner to admit the team was losing faith in the quarterback.
Think about that for a second. Irsay not only called out his starting quarterback’s health and reliability early in the year, but he addressed the potential response of how players and coaches might respect Wentz. That’s not enough for an owner who hasn’t seen his team reach the Super Bowl since February 2010.
For all of his talent, Wentz has only played a full 16-game season twice in the NFL. Irsay doesn’t sound too optimistic the quarterback will reach that milestone a third time this fall.
If Wentz heard Irsay’s comments, he certainly didn’t use them as motivation in Week 3. The Titans’ defense held him to season lows in completion percentage (51.4%) and passing yards (194) in the Colts’ 25-16 loss.
What will the Colts do at quarterback if the Wentz experiment fails?
For now, the Colts are stuck with Wentz, who still has over three months to turn his and his team’s season around. The 17-game season means that an 0-3 team isn’t exactly dead yet … well, unless we’re talking about the New York Jets. We can all agree they’re as dead as disco.
It’s still too early to know if Wentz will be one-and-done in Indianapolis. Although he’s under contract through the end of the 2024 season, the Colts can part ways with him in 2023 and not have any dead cap. As of now, let’s plan on the Colts still having Wentz on the active roster next year.
If Wentz can’t turn it around, the Colts could bench him later this year and give rookie Sam Ehlinger a chance to start. The sixth-round pick from Texas impressed in the preseason before spraining his ACL. As of publication, the Colts had not announced when they expected Ehlinger, who is currently on injured reserve, to rejoin the team.
If things haven’t turned around by mid-November, the Colts would have another practical reason to consider benching Wentz. Remember, the Eagles received a second-round pick that will turn into a 2022 first-round pick if he either plays 75% of the Colts’ offensive snaps or plays at least 70% but makes the postseason.
Then again, Irsay may have Wentz throwing touchdowns on Mars by mid-November if this frustrating start is a sign of things to come.