INDIANAPOLIS – Without question, it is an element that Carson Wentz will add to the Colts quarterback position in 2021.
Philip Rivers brought so much to the Colts last season.
But one thing Rivers absolutely could not do was make plays with his legs.
That element is going to change in 2021 with a much more mobile quarterback in Wentz.
It’s something that Frank Reich touched on last week when appearing on the Cris Collinsworth podcast featuring Richard Sherman.
“It was a big part of (Wentz’s) success in ’17 and we are planning on it continuing to be part of what we do,” Reich says of using RPOs in 2017 with Wentz. “The RPO game, the advantage helps the offensive linemen out. You are able to take an offensive lineman, who is out leveraged, on a block and now reverse the table on the defense and put the offensive line in a good leverage position on their assignment and now give the guy who the offensive line was supposed to block, who was out leveraged, give him to the quarterback. Let the quarterback take care of him by reading him and reacting to what he does vs the flow of the back.
“When you can do that and you can get a guy like Carson who is quick minded and he’s agile and he can throw from every arm angle and he can run the ball if he has to, you can add that element of the RPO and the quarterback run, we are not going to run him a lot but he’s a threat to run…Do we want to do that a lot? No, but he’s a threat. So that I think can help our running game. As great as Philip Rivers was last year, that was never a threat. We think this can open our run game up another notch.”
Again, Rivers’ mental acumen was a massive weapon for the Colts last season.
But his statue-nature in the pocket did limit this offense in two key areas.
The Colts took a major step back in 2020 when it came to third down and red zone play.
In 2020, the Colts ranked 22nd in third-down efficiency (39.6%) and 17th in the red zone (58.35). That compared to 12th on third down with Jacoby Brissett in 2019 and 6th in the red zone.
During the playoff loss to Buffalo, the Colts going 2-of-5 in the red zone was costly.
While the Bills had a quarterback who could (and did) make plays with his legs in that part of the field, the Colts were limited there.
That’s where having the threat of Wentz, who ran 4.77 in the 40-yard dash and can make a play when needed with his legs, will enhance this offense.
“Offensively, we like to use the term just put a seed of doubt,” Reich says. “If you don’t put a seed of doubt into the defensive mind then what happens is they start playing downhill. Everybody wants to play downhill most of the game.
“When you can get a quarterback who adds that element, you still have to make the blocks and run the ball, but it’s certainly a part of the puzzle.”