Training Camp Preview: QB Edition

Training Camp is just around the corner and that renewal of hope and energy that each team is going to find their new Pro Bowler walking in those doors. I wanted to take a moment to preview each position and start building the 53 man roster way to early.

Carson Wentz: Wentz was the big name splash for the Colts this offseason. He currently has most of his young offensive weapons in Houston doing offseason reps for extra work. The chemistry may not be there week 1 as we all know the speed of an NFL game is just something you can’t replicate in practice but you can’t deny his work ethic and willingness to go that extra mile to be as prepared as possible.

Jacob Eason: The fourth round pick from a season ago sat behind Phillip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett all year and has the inside track on being QB2 this year. Jacob is already drawing praise from the Colts new OC, Marcus Brady, and should be a lock for the most important bench player.

Sam Ehlinger: The Colts spent a 6th round pick on the pride of Texas QB Sam Ehlinger. Colts scouts Anthony Coughling and Matt Terpening raved about Sam’s leadership ability along with his on field production. A 6th round rookie is going to have to sit a learn the things college just doesn’t teach you.

Jalen Morton: Morton is a UDFA who was a member of the Packers training camp last season before being waived. Morton was signed to a reserves/future contract in February of this year. Morton has a cannon and will be a lively camp arm but not much to expected of him beyond camp.

Who makes the 53? I think the Colts keep the same amount of QBs as last season with 3.

Wentz as QB1

Eason QB2

Sam QB3

Back From WENTZ It Came

Carson Wentz has been speculated to the Colts for a long time due to his ties to Head Coach Frank Reich, who served as the Eagles Offensive Coordinator before taking the Indianapolis job. When the Eagles hired Colts Offensive Coordinator Nick Sirianni as their new Head Coach in January the rumor mill fired into overdrive. Carson to the Colts seemed like a forgone conclusion at that point with the only holdup being the rumored asking price for Wentz. The Eagles were holding out for a Matt Stafford level deal from interested teams when Ballard potentially stole the former MVP frontrunner for a 3rd round pick in 2021 and a conditional pick in 2022. The big question now is are the Colts the team to get Wentz back to his 2017 form. Well let’s look at the facts. 

No one can argue how integral an offensive line is to team success. You need to win at the point of attack to push on the run plays. You need a good run game to keep the defense honest. You need time in the pocket when routes take longer to develop. Those men upfront keep the whole train on the tracks. From the numbers the Eagles allowed 65 sacks last season with 2 fairly mobile QBs while the Colts allowed 21 with a statue. Rushing totals are close with the Eagles rushing for 126.7 yards per game, 9th best in the league, and the Colts 124.8. Though the rushing numbers are close the disparity of sacks means that the offensive line is an upgrade in Indianapolis anchored by All-World Left Guard Quenton Nelson.

Of course all the time in the pocket is useless if you don’t have anyone to get the ball to. The Eagles have struggled for years to get their QB a true number 1weapon by using picks on guys like JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Jalen Reagor and the offense has struggled as a result. The lead guy last year, by targets, was Greg Ward with 53 catches on 79 targets. He had 6 touchdowns, 419 yards, and 24 first downs which means 45% of his catches ended with 1st downs. Zach Ertz was 2nd on the team in targets with 72 and converted 44%, 16 of 36. Travis Fulgham was 3rd in targets with 67 had a conversion rate of 68%, 26 of 38. Anytime one of their top 3 guys caught the ball they got a 1st down 52% of the time. The Colts have been anchored by T.Y. Hilton since Reggie Wayne retired and last year he secured 56 catches on 93 targets. He had 5 touchdowns, 792 yards, and 42 first downs for a conversion of 75%. Nyheim Hines was 2nd in targets with 76 and converted 38%, 24 of 63. Zach Pascal was 3rd with 71 targets for a conversion rate of 66%, 29 of 44. Anytime one of their top 3 got the ball it was a 1st down 58% of the time. Weapons in the passing game goes to the Colts. 

What about weapons behind the line? As I mentioned earlier the Eagles boasted the 9th best run game last year but if we take out QB rushing stats that stellar 126.7 ypg falls to 87.3 which would move them from a top 10 rushing attack to 2nd worst in the league. Their lead back was Miles Sanders who had 867 yards and 6 touchdowns. Miles hit that 100-yard mark twice last season and fumbled 6 times. He was also their lead pass catcher out of the backfield with 28 catches on 52 targets for 197 yards. The Colts churned out yardage on the ground 11th best in the league behind rookie RB Jonathan Taylor who ran for 1,169 yards and 11 touchdowns. Taylor eclipsed the 100-yard mark 3 times and the 250-yard mark once. He caught 36 passes on 39 targets for 299 yards and 1 touchdown. Colts get the advantage here with the 1,000-yard rusher who also caught 92% of the passes flicked his way. 

So what does all this mean? It means that Indianapolis gives Carson Wentz everything he needs to succeed. He has an improved front 5 to protect him, better weapons outside to catch passes, and an upgrade in the backfield to wear down opposing defenses. He is reunited with the coach that had great success before in a system he is familiar in. It is a perfect storm for Carson Wentz to have the best season of his career and shake off the bust label that has been thrown around him these last few years.