Who's To Blame For Carson Wentz?

Photo: Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard spoke with the media on Thursday afternoon and declined to commit to Carson Wentz as the team's quarterback of the future. Ballard stared down an opportunity to make assurances and wholeheartedly passed on the chance to do so.

"At the time, we felt [trading for Wentz] was the right decision," Ballard said. "I'm not going to comment on who is going to be here next year."

The “at the time” part of that quote speaks volumes. It represents the boldest of comments from your general manager, and it surely doesn't come across as a positive statement. Ballard's comments arrive just days after head coach Frank Reich shared similar sentiments regarding Wentz's future.

“Next year's roster will be next year's roster," Reich said, when asked about Wentz and the quarterback position.

The string of comments from the head coach and general manager hardly represent a stamp of approval from the two head honchos in charge. Ballard and Reich are clearly frustrated after Indianapolis’ season came to a screeching halt and unexpectedly stopped short of the postseason. Wentz performed rather atrociously in Sunday's unforeseen loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars that directly prevented the Colts from reaching the playoffs.

It's a bitter pill to swallow for both Ballard and Reich, who must now take a long, hard look at themselves in the mirror while sharing responsibility for the failed Wentz trade equally. Ballard finally made his bold move at the quarterback position following the retirement of Philip Rivers, who was always viewed as a short-term bridge option due to his advancing age and declining play. Ballard sent a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional second-round pick (which has now morphed into an extremely valuable 2022 first-round pick) to Philadelphia in exchange for Wentz. The trade and overall decision currently reflects extremely poorly on Ballard, who has now gone from Jacoby Brissett to Rivers to Wentz in three successive seasons at the quarterback position.

Reich's involvement in acquiring Wentz undeniably deserves to be closely analyzed (and scrutinized) under a microscope as well. Reich was a fan of Wentz after closely working with him throughout the 2016 and 2017 campaigns as his offensive coordinator in Philadelphia. Reich's debut season with Wentz as his quarterback went beyond swimmingly as the former North Dakota State quarterback won 11 of 13 games while embarking on the best professional season of his career under Reich's watchful eye. 

Wentz, unfortunately, suffered a torn ACL in Week 14 and was absent from the team's Super Bowl triumph over the New England Patriots. Wentz simply hasn't been the same player since that 2017 campaign came to a screeching halt, and both Reich and Ballard are currently paying for their errors in judgment as their attempts to recapture and revive Wentz's early-career form have failed miserably.

Ballard and Reich had to make a notable move at the quarterback position ahead of the 2021 campaign. They were well-positioned to do so, with cap space and draft selections in abundance. They opted for familiarity and a questionable reclamation project. They choose wrong and must now rescue their franchise from the rubble they themselves created. Ballard may be searching for a quarterback for the fourth consecutive offseason. Let's hope he does better this time.

Written By:

Justin Melo

Staff Writer

Justin Melo is an NFL draft analyst that cut his teeth at The Draft Breakdown and USA Today's Draft Wire. He specializes in interviewing prospects, but also produces big boards, mock drafts, and scouting reports. He also covers the Tennessee Titans nationally for Broadway Sports Media and SB Nation.