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What is the Colts 2021 Objective? A reminder.


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I didn't set out meaning to start a new thread to vent but I don't think i've seen one discussing what exactly we need to be focused on. I spent too much time yesterday thinking of this and I want to reiterate what the Colts 2021 objective MUST be. We need to know EXACTLY what we have at QB and act accordingly. Our objective isnt winning all the games, or the SB, or whatever. It's finding our QB. If Wentz is the guy then the other aspects/rewards of having your guy will flow right along.


The number 1 objective the Colts have this season is figuring out whether Carson Wentz can be the guy for them. Everything else is incidental. If he cannot be the guy then we need to move on next season either by drafting his eventual replacement and either sitting him for the next year behind Carson (dead money issues) OR we take the hit and move on from Carson. Our 2021 objective is not making the playoffs, winning the division, it isnt building a running monster, crafting an elite defense, etc. The number 1, 2, and 3 objectives have to be knowing without a doubt what you have with Wentz. It's knowing if he can be our guy. And this isn't an exercise in blind faith, that's not how you run a football team. This isnt about a gut feeling. Yes Frank Reich knew the kid in Philly and they're brothers in faith and all that, this is about cold calculated observation of your franchise's key and seeing if it's good enough. Coaches have a tendency of leaning to faith. Frank does it a lot...blind faith in his line when it has done nothing to earn it. Chuck Pagano used to do it too....blind faith in his defense when it was clearly not going to get the job done. Maybe you need some of that as a HC but for the love of everything holy, when it comes to the QB, we need to be smarter.


3 games in and Carson's certainly not been the cause of our record but it's also been hard to say he is the guy after all he has not won us a game. The job of our coaching crew and front office this year has to be figuring that out. If they're doing anything else as a central theme, they need to be fired and i don't say that flippantly. In this league, if you don't have a QB, you don't have anything. That is your number one brief. Big Q isnt winning you games no matter how symbolic he is of whatever ethos you think you're laying down, nor is Deion Sanders or Barry Sanders. Calvin Johnson isnt winning you games nor is Lawrence Taylor. Those pieces are important but they're not the QB. You MUST find out what you have there and move quickly if Carson isnt the guy. Is Carson the guy or not? Well, to find that out you need him as healthy as possible.


As fans, we get caught up in the moment, we get mad, we get frustrated, we blame the GM, we call Reich names and crap on his coaching cred, we get heated with each other, we are exhausted with the nonsense. Understandable but lets not forget that this season is about seeing what Carson is. We do not know that. The questions we need to ask have to be around that anchoring objective. I have been very guilty of forgetting this. I don't care if Darius Leonard gets paid a boatload of money, it doesn't matter. I don't care if Q gets paid or who the CB2 is? Does it matter who the playmakers are? Does it matter whether Strachan was a rough gem find or whether Malik Hooker was a miss by the GM? For the most part, again i say no. Does it matter whether the running back is dynamic? Not really. All that goes down the drain until we know who our QB is. That is our primary task. When you get the QB, you can safely move onto your next phase of development but until you get that guy, this other stuff is just filler. It's eating filler for thanksgiving instead of the freaking turkey.


We failed to do the work of discovering Carson yesterday. We trotted out a QB with the objective of seeing whether he could win us a game. What exactly was it about yesterday's strategy that made Reich and Ballard think they'd learn something about Wentz? It was extremely bad management and Reich coming out post-game saying he had no doubt he would start Carson was a fireable offense in my book. We started a hurt Andrew Luck many times when we shouldn't have with the exact goal of winning games rather than helping him be a better QB which longer term would have got us that Lombardi. There's a HUGE difference in those two objectives.

What's the difference? When you have a young pup at QB, your entire strategy has to be built around helping him show his strengths while hiding his weaknesses. Helping him become the man. When you trot him out hurt, and he keeps winning while playing at 60-70%, you're never getting to him to grow, you just are not. Instead, he's building on and reinforcing those bad habits and compensating so he can get a W. Then one day, five years after drafting him, you see that he's the same guy he was in day 1 and you've not developed him at all. It's easy to lose sight of the objective of growing him but the truth is when you get your QB to be the best version of himself, everything else benefits.

What exactly did we learn about Wentz? That he's tough? Every one and their dog knew that already. What was it about the situation we put him in that was smart? Oh, a 50% Wentz is better than 100% Eason/Hundley/Name-A-Rando? Who cares!?!? That's not the objective. It's not about winning that pointless game? You had a hurt QB and wheeled his sorry @$$ out there to take a pounding, it was unnecessarily risky and led to us learn diddly poo. We need to know whether Carson can be our quarterback and if anything, yesterday reinforced things you've heard from Philly. Speaking of Philly....


With Carson, i've seen all the potential that has Philly fans mad and acting like jilted lovers. The kid can be great. I've also seen why those same fans act gleefully because Wentz has some serious warts. Toughness is all well and good but being smart and knowing when NOT to play is better. Knowing what throws NOT to make is better than being able to make all the throws. This is the part when the coaches tell him not to lose sight of the big picture and to sit his butt down. This staff (GM and coaches) are tethering much closer to the previous regime than i find comfortable. What exactly and specifically did they find out about Carson yesterday? He was gimpy, he missed throws, he did nothing to get a step closer to us knowing who he is. From the eye test, he was even slower releasing the ball than the previous two games (TN went in knowing they had to impact him and boy did they ever). This isnt rocket science but it does take some strategic thinking and i'm not seeing it from Chris Ballard and/or Frank Reich right now. I'm seeing desperation. They need to refocus.


Frank Reich's job with Wentz this season is almost identical to 2018 with Luck. Get the QB playing within himself. Accentuate his strengths, hide his weaknesses. Frank did that with Luck and needs to do it again. The moment Frank forgets that is what his job is, he's going to go down the Pagano path and trust me he isnt that far off from it. (little dirty secret is NO COACH IS). What Frank did yesterday was the OPPOSITE of what he needs to be doing. He wheeled out a QB whose weaknesses were out in full and whose strengths were not allowed to blossom. To what end? What'd he think would happen? He's lucky the kid didnt really get hurt. Rest the young man! Play him when you can fully assess whether he is able to be your guy. This is not about you knowing in your gut that he is. No one cares about your gut feeling. This is about seeing those gut feelings actualized, and yesterday did nothing in that direction.


If Carson is limited all season long with injuries and this GM and Coach use that as an excuse to skimp on the QB position again, they both need to be shot into a cannon and fired off to the moon.

Mr. BALLARD - Your objective as a GM is to find a quarterback, that is your number one objective. Luck retired, okay now what? There's a small section of fans who said Luck should have been traded in 2017 when he was hurt all year. That may have seemed crazy for a new GM to do but listen, the Colts cut loose from Peyton Manning, and when you're GM, your job isnt to take the easy pill. If that was all the job required, any of the armchair GMs here could make those decisions. However lets give you a 2017 pass. Now you have one job. Find a QB. You gave Jacoby the starting job AND then a big raise to boot when we all knew he wasn't the guy. That was a mistake. You got in Rivers and then let him walk. You can say you were hedging your bet but clearly Rivers knew the Colts wanted something 'more'. You've brought in Carson and he's getting pounded and showing warts and you're not letting yourself learn what he really is. Mr Ballard, the media likes you, the fans like you. You know you have to find a QB, however if this guy is hurt, you're not finding anything out. Or maybe you are....

Mr Reich -  Your job as a coach is getting Carson to play within himself, bring out his strengths, hide his weaknesses. Frank is usually very very good about this and i know we love to (at least a cross section of the fanbase) knock his play-calling, or situational awareness, or gameplan or all the other knocks we put on him but let me tell you, what Reich usually has is something most coaches struggle to process i.e. he is humble enough to hop on his QBs back. Yesterday, he got caught up in wanting win. He got caught up in fear of being 0-3 and took his eyes off the ball. That was a mistake. His comments after the game were even more damning. Frank, you learned nothing about Carson yesterday. Nothing anyway that helps in your assessment of the player and his long term prospects.




Conversely maybe yesterday wasn't so bad. Maybe what we learned is Carson struggles with injuries. It's what many Philly fans will tell you about him, that exact thing i.e. he struggles with injuries. Sure, you can bring stats and data but they bring their feelings and impressions and there's a place for that. When they say he's always hurt and we bring out stats saying he missed only one game in 2018 (random example so don't take this literally), what the Philly fans know which others don't is that he maybe played only 9 of those games healthy and as an active asset, the other 7 games were games when he played but played hurt. If you have a QB who is never at 100% and that affects his play, then the bad news is you don't have a QB. In 5 years, what the stats will say about the game yesterday was Carson completed X % of throws and all the other stuff however if you're looking at those stats without knowing the context of his injuries, the random stat observer probably comes away thinking he was utter trash. Now if that QB is always dealing with something like yesterday (which is what Philly fans say) then maybe you move in another direction because that QB is never healthy. That's the context that must be factored in when a fanbase labels a player as injury-prone. It isnt simply just about missing games, we also have to factor in whether that player is at least at a minimum acceptable health baseline to positively impact games AND to stay on the course to actualizing his potential without picking up bad habits. 


Apart from injuries, what else have i learned that i wasn't certain about before? Well, I think he still acts like a young pup. i.e. he still thinks he can do it all. He'll hold onto the ball longer than he should. Yesterday, i was literally yelling at the screen the whole game "let it loose! Go, go go!!!!" It's been an issue all season, he holds onto the football. Philly fans warned us about it and listen, i know we can give excuses about the line, and the receivers and all that but i think this is just a part of who Carson is....for now. The task before Frank Reich is to break him of those bad habits. We cannot say that Philly fans were all wrong, and PFF is wrong, and Pro Football Reference is wrong, and all the analysts are wrong whenever they say something about Carson that we don't like. I've seen this refrain around the Colts fanbase. We say something along the lines of "did you even watch the game?". In the first two games of this season, the kid has held onto the ball. Period. Yesterday, it felt as if he held on even longer. There were several times were he threw it in the dirt. Folks, Carson has to get the ball out much quicker. It was same thing with Luck. I realize it's easy to fall back to what you know and are comfortable with when the heat gets cranked up but if he's going to be holding onto the ball, he's going to stay hurt, and we'll never find out enough about him. He has to help himself AND by dint of that also help his line. Frank has got to get that embedded firmly in his skull.


What else did i learn? Well I've long suspected this but his pre-snap reads have to get better and I think him playing as hurt as he did showed that he might have a bit of an issue here. This one is one him and Frank to work together. Holding onto the ball isn't just a function of him loving to caress the pigskin. If you make your reads better, set up your protection better, you give yourself a clearer picture of how to attack the defense. Why did yesterday show me that the reads might be an issue? Well, he was clearly gimpy and hurt and you'd have thought that to compensate for that, he'd want the ball out faster and lean on the other strengths (reading the defense, setting protections up, playing faster) but none of that happened. I've not seen the numbers but it felt like Tennessee really abused him yesterday. I learned that Frank Reich and this QB both need to work on these more subtle aspects of the game. If a 'very hurt' Carson still struggled with these things then i'm afraid folks.




I like the potential Wentz has. If anything, i am now very very aware of why Philly fans are so mad. They could see that potential clearly. It's the type of potential that makes you think you may have a top 5 QB in your stable. It's really something. However, i also see very clearly the things that they shouted (and continue to shout) about him. As Colts fans, lets not dismiss those things. Yesterday, Frank and CB took their eyes off the objective in my opinion. They did what Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson used to do with Luck i.e. they worried more about winning a game rather than long term dvelopment. We cannot afford to do that again. It's extremely short sighted. THEY cannot afford to do that again, we need to find out whether this young man can be the guy. We need to find out whether he is properly broken or whether Frank Reich can tease out those traits he brought out of him in Philly. Already, we can see the potential but i've also seen the warts. This season has to be about figuring him out. It's a clear difference. This isnt about winning/losing, this is about the QB. We need to keep sight of that. You have a QB, that's half your battle accomplished. If you don't know what you have at the position, you're likely a .500 or worse ball club until you get the position cleared up. In 2021, the Colts objective needs to be figuring out what we have in Carson Wentz. We all wondered before the season, and 3 games in, if we're honest, we see the issues as well as the pluses, and we need to find out whether we can hide his weaknesses and accentuate his strengths over the course of the season.



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