INDIANAPOLIS – The playing styles of Colts starting quarterbacks over recent years have changed quite a bit.
From Andrew Luck, to Scott Tolzien, back to Luck, and then Jacoby Brissett, followed by Philip Rivers and now Carson Wentz.
That’s quite the run of different QBs in how they go about playing the most important position in sports.
Rivers to Wentz is the latest installment of that.
Let’s examine the advantages and disadvantages of having Wentz at quarterback, compared to Rivers:
-Bigger Arm: The Colts hit on a few more chunk plays in the pass game last year, but it wasn’t because Philip Rivers had a bigger arm than Jacoby Brissett. It was because Rivers was willing to take a few more chances vertically. Well, Carson Wentz is not only willing to test defenses down the field, but he also has the big arm to go with it. And Wentz is known for his ability to drive the ball up the seam. This should call for the Colts offense being able to stress an opposing defense more down the field. As Michael Pittman pointed out following a throwing session with Wentz, there’s some ‘velocity and power’ from the right arm of the 6-5, 237-pounder.
–Threat of the Run: Easily, the biggest playing style characteristic that is different in going from Philip Rivers to Carson Wentz, is the latter’s ability to make some plays off-script. By no means is Wentz comparable to Lamar Jackson, but he can make some plays with his legs. This part of the offense is massive when talking specifically about third down and the red zone. It’s also major when it comes to being as multi-dimensional as possible with the RPO game. Frank Reich already has this on his mind in trying to open up the Colts’ playbook a little bit more.
–Off-Script Plays: Similar to the point above, having a more athletic quarterback in 2021 should allow for the Colts to make a few more plays out of the pocket. Obviously, planning for this isn’t really part of a game plan, but you don’t have to look far in the NFL last year to see so many dynamic quarterbacks that brought this element to the offense. Scramble drills will be something the wideout group of the Colts will be more involved with in 2021.
-Pinpoint Accuracy: Without question, Philip Rivers is a more accurate quarterback than Carson Wentz. The discrepancy in this part of the game last season was an astronomical 11 percent difference between the two. That has to change with Wentz now working again with Frank Reich. One area that Rivers really excelled in with the Colts was his ball placement on quick timing routes. That allowed for skill players to catch the ball in stride and make plays after the catch. Wentz had some issues with this last season, so it’s something that needs to be cleaned up fundamentally.
–Pre/Post Snap Identification: Philip Rivers does get the ball out a tad faster than Carson Wentz, but it’s not a major difference in terms of that quicker rhythm. But an area where Rivers was a master came from his ability to identify things pre-snap, eliminate certain reads and know full well where the ball needed to go. By all accounts, Wentz is a brilliant football mind, too. Still, this is where Rivers was in the top percentile of players mastering the ability to make progressions and throw with anticipation. Will Wentz get back to that with Reich?