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QB1 Film Session: What is Washington getting in QB Carson Wentz this year?

There are plenty of opinions of Washington’s newly acquired quarterback Carson Wentz. What exactly can Washington look forward to this year from Wentz?

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Player Overview

Wentz is a sixth-year quarterback who spent his first five seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and his last season with the Indianapolis Colts. With the Eagles, Wentz spent his time playing under Head Coach Doug Pederson, who utilized an RPO-dominant offense with Wentz as the starter. With the Colts, Wentz played under head coach Frank Reich, who also used an RPO-dominant offense with Wentz as the starter.

Wentz statistics are found below.

Injuries

2015 - Hand Wrist Fracture (Week six versus South Dakota, missed remaining eight games)

2016 - Chest Rib Fracture (Preseason week one versus Tampa Bay, missed the remainder of pre-season)

2017 - Torn ACL and Torn MCL (Week 14 versus Los Angeles Rams, returned week three of the 2018 season)

2018 - Back Vertebral Fracture (Date unknown, missed the remainder of the season)

2019 - None

2020 - Concussion (Wild card versus Seattle, out for the game.)

2021 - Left foot injury (August, missed remainder of the pre-season) Grade three high-ankle sprains (week two, no time missed.)

Strengths

Context: Indianapolis vs. Baltimore (Week 5, October 11, 2021); 2nd and 10 @ Baltimore's 28-yard line.

Analysis: Wentz displayed very good mental processing in this play. Facing a zone coverage, what appears to be a cover two, Wentz recognizes early in the play that he has a two-way option on the boundary side of the field. Running back Nyheim Hines is running a speed out to the sideline, and tight end Mo Alie-Cox is running a corner route, breaking at the 15-yard line. Wentz reads from safety to corner and recognizes that the zone's void in-between the two defenders could be open. Because the safety gets in his backpedal for depth and the cornerback is stuck between the out and corner, Wentz knows that Alie-Cox will be open for a small window and utilizes his anticipation to attack it. Wentz finishes the play with good accuracy and arm strength to deliver the ball on the run for Alie-Cox and gains additional yards on the play.

Context: Tampa Bay vs. Indianapolis (Week 12, November 28, 2021); 1st and 10 @ Indianapolis’ 38-yard line.

Analysis: Wentz displays elite arm strength, accuracy, and very good mental processing on this play as he threw with anticipation. Wentz is facing a cover one look versus one of the better young safeties in the game in Antoine Winfield, Jr. What appeared to be press-man coverage at the line of scrimmage turned out to be a disguised look, and the cornerbacks turned to a bail technique. Wentz's read out of play-action is his receiver, Ashton Dulin, running a deep corner-post route. Dulin does a great job adjusting from press to bail coverage and accelerating into his route, and manipulating Winfield, Jr. at the top of his route. Dulin widens out the cornerback, and the safety mistakenly cheats and commits to the breaking in-route over the middle. Wentz is processing this in real-time and recognizes the separation his receiver has created and the declaration the safety has made knowing that Winfield Jr. has lost his depth. In turn, Dulin is the recipient of a 62-yard touchdown pass caught in stride.

Context: Las Vegas v. Indianapolis (Week 16, January 2, 2022); 3rd and 9 @ Indianapolis’ 17-yard line.

Analysis: This displays Wentz's competitive toughness versus the Raiders defense and, more importantly, the Raiders defensive front, who had Wentz under siege for most of the game. The Raiders transition from a two-high safety look pre-snap to a cover-one-man look. The Raiders defense was sound in their coverage and created pressure for their first three drives on the field. Wentz recognizes that it is man across the board and ensures that the mismatch (6'5" tight end Mo Alie-Cox vs. 6'0" cornerback Desmond Trufant) on the field is isolated and fires a bullet to the tight end as he boxed out the cornerback. The Colts had 57 yards on their first three drives of the game, and knowing that a play needed to be made, Wentz made a play with his arm and awareness to extend the drive. Wentz's secondary attributes displayed on this play were good accuracy and arm strength vs. tight man coverage. The Colts completed this pass for ten yards; however, an illegal formation nullified the conversion.

Weaknesses

Context: Indianapolis vs. Miami (Week 4, October 3, 2021); 1st and 10 at Tennessee's 47-yard line.

Analysis: This is a display of below-average mental processing by Wentz. The Colts are in a three-by-one formation with three receivers at the top of the clip and tight end Jack Doyle solo at the bottom. The Colts appear to be running a mesh concept between Doyle and a receiver (jersey number hard to identify). The mesh concept created a natural pick for Indianapolis because the Tennessee Titans are in cover one man. However, Wentz's eyes are downfield, waiting on a long-developing corner route that the receiver does not break until Wentz is sacked. Wentz's processing and his eyes should have quickly taken him down to mesh, where Doyle was running free at the start of his release. Instead, Wentz took a sack because he waited too long for a receiver to come uncovered.

Context: Las Vegas v. Indianapolis (Week 16, January 2, 2022); 1st and 10 @ Las Vegas’s 38-yard line.

Analysis: Another display of below-average mental processing by Wentz. The Colts run play-action with a fake handoff and end-around. With the Raiders in zone coverage, the Colts needed the safety to bite on one of the two fakes; however, he did not. Wentz recognizes that the safety is not fooled; however, he has poor field vision in finding a secondary read in the play and defaults to the check-down that gains five yards. Tight end Alie-Cox releases to the middle of the field after he becomes uncovered at the line, which is also when Wentz completed his dropback. On a play that gained five, Alie-Cox gains at least ten, and the Colts are not punting back to the Raiders, who ultimately take the lead two drives later.

Context: Tampa Bay vs. Indianapolis (Week 12, November 28, 2021); 2nd and 10 @ Indianapolis’ 25-yard line.

Analysis: Another display of below-average mental processing by Wentz. The Buccaneers run a disguised cover two starting from a cover-one man pre-snap look. With the intent of baiting Wentz into a throw that he'd typically make against cover three or man coverage, the curl route that the field-side receiver (T.Y. Hilton) runs is quickly covered by the slot cornerback sprinting to the flats. Wentz recognized Hilton's route was covered; however, his internal clock appears to have led him to believe he had to escape the pocket and drop his eyes from downfield. His secondary (tight end Alie-Cox) and hot route (running back) reads were open in reasonable windows, but Wentz could not locate them. An offensive holding call was made at the time he decided to scramble, but if he made a throw to one of the receivers beyond his first read, it's a reasonable third-down distance.

Commanders Projection

Wentz will win with very good anticipation, mental acuity, and arm strength. Wentz has a very good understanding of coverages and knows where his receivers are supposed to be on a given play call. This works to his advantage because he understands leverage from a receiver and secondary standpoint and will attack defenders out of position downfield. Wentz primarily favors outs, curls, comebacks, and post routes in the intermediate and deep levels of the field. Wentz is very good on slant concepts that give him a two-level read on short-level throws. He is very comfortable operating as an RPO decision-maker. Wentz also has high-level competitiveness and will challenge defenders in one-on-one man coverage downfield or on the sideline, especially against obvious mismatches. Wentz has good pocket mobility and is elite at extending plays, and will create additional opportunities for the Commanders' offense after a play breaks down.

Wentz will struggle with staying healthy; he is a high-risk player in this regard as he has suffered injuries in six of his last seven playing seasons. At times Wentz struggles with his field vision and locating receivers beyond his first read, in turn missing positive-play opportunities and creating additional opportunities for the defense to make plays in the backfield or force turnovers. Wentz will also struggle to make the easy throws available to him, specifically referring to coverages that dictate which routes should be available early in the play. Wentz typically prefers the big-play potential over the necessary decision.

Conclusion: Wentz is a starting-level quarterback that Washington can win with. Head Coach Ron Rivera has stated several times that the Commanders need a quarterback. They have now acquired an above-average starter who has weeks where he'll perform as a top ten quarterback and weeks where he'll perform as a bottom-12 quarterback. Receiver Dyami Brown and Terry McLaurin are winners from the Wentz acquisition for the offense. McLaurin wins consistently downfield on the intermediate and deep levels of the field, and Brown's skillset out of North Carolina will tailor to Wentz's preferences. However, Brown needs to improve this off-season as a route-runner. If he struggles in his releases this season, teams will opt to press him and negate his downfield presence.

A potential loser from the deal may be Curtis Samuel. While Samuel was limited in 2021 because of injury, Samuel's routes were limited to a certain distance when he was on the field. Samuel, when healthy, can operate on multiple levels of the field, but if OC Scott Turner wants Samuel to be the underneath weapon to make plays after the catch, then it may need to come by design (such as RPOs) versus asking Wentz to work his reads. (This is a concern but not a prediction. To be determined until Samuel can see the field with meaningful snaps.)

Games watched: Indianapolis vs. Tennessee (Week 3, September 26, 2021); Indianapolis vs. Miami (Week 4, October 3, 2021); Indianapolis vs. Baltimore (Week 5, October 11, 2021); Tampa Bay vs. Indianapolis (Week 12, November 28, 2021); Las Vegas v. Indianapolis (Week 16, January 2, 2022).

See the whole film breakdown of Carson Wentz here:

So what's your feeling on the Wentz move a few days removed from the trade? Are you more concerned about the future of Washington or less concerned?