INDIANAPOLIS — New Colts quarterback Carson Wentz felt that the beginning of the end of his five-year career with the Philadelphia Eagles came when he was benched in their Week 13 game against the Green Bay Packers last season.
Wentz didn’t play another snap with the Eagles, and two months later he was traded to the Colts for a third-round pick in this year’s draft and a conditional second-round pick in the 2022 draft. He hopes he can regain the form in Indianapolis that made him an MVP candidate.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it — it wasn’t fun,” Wentz said Thursday in his first comments since the trade. “It’s not fun when things were going well for years and all those things. … As a man, you have to look yourself in the mirror and learn from it and become a better man, better player. It wasn’t fun, it was difficult, but I did everything I could to be supportive of Jalen [Hurts] and my teammates.”
Wentz was benched in favor of the rookie Hurts after he completed a career-low 57.4%, threw 15 interceptions and was sacked 50 times last season. That was a drastic downfall for Wentz, who was in the running to win the MVP trophy before a torn ACL ended his 2017 season early.
Wentz also commented Thursday on reports that he wasn’t a good teammate in Philadelphia.
“I’ve learned you’re not going to make everybody happy,” Wentz said. “As much as you want to, you can’t. It’s unfortunate people have those opinions. I’m going to learn from it and try to be the best teammate I can be. If there are teammates who I don’t think I was the best teammate, I apologize, I wish I could be better. Last year was tough for everybody.”
Wentz, 28, didn’t come out and say it, but he made it clear that it was best that he and the Eagles went their separate ways, especially after it appeared the organization wanted to go with Hurts in the future.
“A lot of things in life we can’t predict,” Wentz said. “A lot of crazy circumstances where you expect things to unfold. When you’re drafted in a place like Philly you have a lot of high expectations and everything, but obviously the year didn’t go as planned. Excited for this opportunity in Indy and be a part of something special that has already been created here.”
Colts coach Frank Reich will play a big part in trying to get Wentz, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 draft, back on track. Wentz has played all 16 games in the regular season just twice in his career due to injuries and the benching. There’s the mental aspect of where he’s at, too, because it was less than two years ago that the Eagles gave him a four-year, $128 million contract.
Reich was Wentz’s offensive coordinator with the Eagles for two seasons, including in 2017 when the quarterback threw for an Eagles franchise-record 33 touchdowns and his 78.5 Total QBR was 18.7 points higher than the rest of his career.
“It was natural, and getting to work with him for two years, not just the personal side of things, we knew we had a great relationship with that, but the X’s and O’s of football,” Wentz said. “How we see the game and how we can have healthy discussions and disagreements, but really challenge each other and ultimately make each other better. It was a lot of fun. That’s something I’m super excited about, getting to work with him again, because I have the utmost respect for the man he is, the friend he’s been as well, also the coach he is as well.”
The Colts need Wentz just as much as he needs to be with a familiar face like Reich. Wentz will follow Scott Tolzien, Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett and Philip Rivers in being the team’s Week 1 starter over the past five seasons. Indianapolis hopes Wentz will put an end to its revolving door at quarterback after it had basically Peyton Manning and Luck at the position between 1998 and 2018, before Luck retired.
Reich, owner Jim Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard didn’t just consider the relationship between Wentz and Reich before making the trade. They wanted to make sure this wasn’t going to be just another temporary holding pattern at quarterback for the franchise.
“I can’t emphasize how strongly I feel that Carson is the man for the job for the Colts at this time,” Irsay said. “There’s been a lot at the quarterback situation that has happened over the last three years. To get someone I really do believe, after looking at this game for 50 years, I really think that he can be that guy that’s the centerpiece and the guy who will be around with these teams we put together for the next decade that gives the Colts a chance for greatness.”