How Colts quarterback Carson Wentz took a step in right direction

INDIANAPOLIS – It couldn’t have been scripted any better for Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz against the Miami Dolphins in Week 4.

That's because so much about Wentz has been:

“When will he stop trying to play Superman and realize it is okay to make the simple throw?”

“Why does Wentz hold on to the ball so long?”

“Why does he take unnecessary hits?”

It’s way too soon to say things have sunk in for Wentz, but the way he played Sunday in the Colts' 27-17 victory over the Dolphins was a definite step in the right direction for the quarterback, as he tries to adapt his playing style to what coach Frank Reich wants out of his starter.

Wentz was 24-of-32 for 228 yards and two touchdowns to get his first victory as a Colt and end a seven-game losing streak for himself going back to last season with the Philadelphia Eagles.

“We saw from Carson a little bit of the player we were expecting,” Reich said. “He had a little bit more mobility today. You saw him extend a few plays and make some really big-time plays. But, then, he also did it from the pocket as well. I feel like that’s where it’s going. … Just continue to fight and get better.”

Wentz’s transformation will be a work in progress because of the change in style, and he’s still working his way back from a right ankle sprain that had him questioning his availability two weeks ago. He will continue to use his athleticism, and he’s still going to improvise at times, even if it goes against what Reich wants him to do.

That was the case in the first half Sunday.

The Dolphins had the Colts pinned inside Indianapolis’ 3-yard line when Wentz lined up in the shotgun several yards into the end zone.

Reich had given Wentz instructions on what to do on the play.

“I said, ‘If [the throw] is not there right now, take a short sack,'” Reich would explain after the game.

Did Wentz listen?


The quarterback faked the handoff to running back Jonathan Taylor and ran a bootleg to the right. Tight end Kylen Granson was the intended target, but he stumbled some, which threw the route off. That’s when Wentz went against taking the “short sack” that Reich wanted.

Wentz, bum ankles and all, took off running up the field before diving forward for a 10-yard gain.

“I said, ‘Hey, what happened to the short sack?’ He said, ‘Well, I wasn’t down. I was prepared to go down,’ but he knew he could get away,” Reich said. “Those are the kinds of plays that he can make that really help lead clutch ball games.”

It was probably good that Wentz wasn’t trying to outrun a defensive back because he would have likely been caught, since he’s not 100% healthy yet.

“I thought, ‘I just gotta get moving,'” he said. “I felt like I was in quicksand there.”

Next, Wentz pulled off the type of play that hadn’t been seen since former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck, who retired in 2019, was quarterbacking the Colts.

A Miami pass-rusher looked like a great white shark about to attack its prey, when Wentz stopped on a dime, shook off Dolphins defensive end Zach Sieler and continued rolling to his right before throwing a first down to wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.

Wentz’s stats aren’t eye popping. He has yet to crack the 1,000-yard passing mark after four games, and it’ll continue to be a tug-o-war between he and Reich at times. But he has completed 63.8% of his attempts, which is currently the third highest of his career, and he has thrown only one interception on the season. Wentz threw seven interceptions through the first four weeks last season.

"Been very judicious, very judicious not only throwing the ball, but the other big emphasis from coming off of last year was ball security in the pocket," Reich said. "I give Carson a lot of credit keeping the ball secure in the pocket with two hands and then making good decisions, still taking chances at times. Scott Milanovich, the quarterbacks coach, has done a really good job with Carson in that regard, just drilling him and working that into his mindset in every way.”

Sunday was just a sample of things, because they played with a lead from basically the middle of the second quarter on, which allowed the Colts to lean on their running game and have Wentz throw the ball when the opportunity presented itself.

“I’m never trying to force anything,” Wentz said. “Trying to make a big play when it’s there. But otherwise, play smart and keep moving the chains.”