Carson Wentz’s list of doubters is only getting longer.
Colts radio analyst Rick Venturi spoke out against the quarterback on “The Ride with JMV,” saying the 29-year-old should no longer be the franchise’s starter.
“A franchise can make a mistake,” Venturi said. “It can make a mistake evaluating people, be it a draft, a trade, free agency. It’s never an exact science. But the biggest mistake that any franchise makes, $15 million notwithstanding, is to make the second mistake, and that’s live with the first mistake.”
Both Colts coach Frank Reich and GM Chris Ballard have been non-committal this offseason while discussing Wentz’s future with the franchise.
Venturi, a former head coach at Northwestern and assistant with numerous NFL teams including the Colts, believes it’s time for Indianapolis to find a new quarterback.
“To me, you make a hard decision,” he said. “And right now, I would be leaning toward going in a different direction.”
Venturi criticized Wentz’s performance in light of the circumstances that brought him to Indianapolis — circumstances that Venturi believes should have set the QB up for his best season to date.
Wentz was traded to the Colts from the Eagles for two drafts picks and was reunited with head coach Frank Reich, who was his offensive coordinator in his breakout 2017 season in Philadelphia. Many saw his move to the Colts as a way to forget a dismal 2020 season that saw him get benched for then-rookie Jalen Hurts.
“He couldn’t have walked into a better situation,” Venturi said of a Colts offense that is led by star running back Jonathan Taylor.
“I bought into the deal. I made the highlight tape, I looked at him, I looked at all the tools that he had. He’s a multiple-tool player. When you look at him in isolation, there’s absolutely nothing that he cannot do. And he came to a situation with the quarterback whisperer, a guy who wanted him, who stood up on the table for him, who sold them to this organization.”
While Wentz’s 2021 campaign was not abysmal — he put up 27 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 94.6 passer rating — his missteps in the two final games of the season cost the Colts a chance at a playoff berth.
The former Pro Bowler threw an interception, lost a fumble and passed for just 185 yards for a 26-11 loss to the bottom-feeder Jaguars. Venturi saw this performance as an example of a season-long issue of consistency from Wentz.
“When you look at Wentz, it’s very easy to be wowed,” he said. “But in the end, some players grow on you and some players grow negatively. He has grown negatively on me because what I see in the long haul is the guy who kills us with erratic throws, erratic periods of accuracy.
“This kills me the most, because I think this is probably irreversible, is absolute head-scratching judgment issues that are just ridiculous issues. We’ve seen them over and over. I think he’s more blacksmith than surgeon. I think the big moments are his enemy. I doubt that’s reversible.”
Wentz still has three years and $81 million left on his contract, though just $15 million of that is guaranteed. The Colts would actually save money by releasing the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft. Wentz is owed $28.3 million in 2022, $13.3 million above what he would be guaranteed if the Colts decided to seek a new QB.