Photo via Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
The Indianapolis Colts head into Week 17 of the NFL season in a precarious position. After losing 28-24 to the Pittsburgh Steelers this past Sunday, the Colts currently sit outside the playoffs in the loaded AFC playoff picture. Despite a 10-5 record and an expanded bracket, the Colts could miss the postseason with 11 wins if they lose their game on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, or the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans all win their Week 17 games.
The Colts have a solid roster with a top-10 defense in yards allowed per game and the NFL’s second-ranked rushing defense. While their rushing and total offense rank toward the middle of the NFL leaderboard pack, their passing offense is currently eighth. Statistically, several issues lie in pass defense (ranked 18th) and their rushing offense (ranked 16th).
However, quarterback Philip Rivers has been another aspect holding his team back from possibly reaching the playoffs. Despite ranking ninth in the NFL in passing yards, he ranks 16th in passing touchdowns, meaning Rivers has a harder time finishing off drives he starts. He ranks 21st in touchdown percentage among attempted passes (TD%) and 18th in interception percentage among attempted passes (INT%). This means he is mediocre at producing points for his team along with taking care of the ball.
Even when looking beyond the stat sheet, Rivers is clearly not the answer for the Colts. Watching him against the Steelers, he seemed unable to deal with the Steelers’ pressure as he could not find his receivers in tight situations. This was also the case in their losses to the Ravens and Browns earlier in the season. Rivers was signed to a one-year contract this past offseason, meaning the Colts will most likely look for a new signal-caller for the 2021 season.
My recommendation? Trade for Philadelphia Eagles’ beleaguered QB Carson Wentz.
There are two immediate concerns which are brought out with this proposal: Wentz has struggled this season mightily so he won’t be an upgrade over Rivers and his massive four-year $128 million contract he signed with the Eagles, which begins next season.
Wentz’s struggles are well-documented. He is tied for the NFL lead in interceptions thrown with Drew Lock, is 34th out of 36 eligible QBs in QB rating, is 26th in TD% and 34th in INT%. He looks lost with the Eagles’ offense, leading to him getting benched for rookie QB Jalen Hurts in their Week 13 loss against the Green Bay Packers. Hurts has performed well despite the porous offensive line, inconsistent receiving corp, Doug Pederson’s questionable coaching and leaky pass defense. Hurts has shown he should take over the reigns of the Eagles’ offense going forward.
Despite these struggles, I think Wentz would thrive in Indianapolis. The Colts’ offensive line is one of the league’s best, allowing Rivers to be sacked only 19 times. 23 QBs have been sacked more than Rivers, including Wentz, who leads the league in most times sacked (50). Wentz would be much more comfortable in Indianapolis and with his mobility, he can avoid the pressure and make plays out of pressure that Rivers faced on Sunday at Pittsburgh. Also, Wentz would be reunited with Frank Reich, the Eagles’ offensive coordinator in 2017 when Wentz was a MVP frontrunner before his torn ACL in Week 14. He had a special relationship with Reich, and pairing them together again would produce great results as Wentz developed with Reich at the beginning of his career. Lastly, a change of scenery can do wonders for a player’s career; just look what leaving Philadelphia has done for Las Vegas Raiders’ wide receiver Nelson Agholor, producing his best season in his six-year career.
Also, the contract is not a concern. The Colts currently are projected to have over $66 million in cap space available for 2021. They can easily afford Wentz’s contract and still have enough room to address other holes on their roster. If the Colts can acquire Wentz and bring out his MVP form, the move will be more than worth it.
The Eagles, while facing over $31 million in dead cap if they trade Wentz, would allow Hurts to develop into their franchise QB and gain draft capital in the process. The Colts should reunite Wentz with Reich as I believe this would help the Colts take the next step in their pursuit of a championship.
Regardless if the Colts sneak into this year’s playoffs, trading for Wentz is a move they need to make this offseason.