Colts owner Jim Irsay didn’t pull any punches Tuesday talking about Carson Wentz at the NFL owners meetings.
A day after Frank Reich said Wentz shouldn’t be considered a scapegoat for the Colts’ late-season collapse, Irsay went in the complete opposite direction.
He blasted his former quarterback in the strongest imaginable terms.
“I think the worst thing you can do is have a mistake and try to keep living with it going forward,” Irsay said at the NFL owner’s meetings in Palm Beach, Fla., according to the Indianapolis Star.
“For us, it was something we had to move away from as a franchise. It was very obvious.”
A year after the Colts traded a 1st-round pick and a 3rd-round pick to the Eagles for Wentz, they turned around and shipped him to Washington.
Wentz went from the perceived savior in Indianapolis under Reich to a disaster in just a few months. And the Eagles haven't even used the 1st-round pick yet that they got from the Colts.
“In having conversations with trusted veterans on the team, when you speak to them in confidence, oftentimes they share really, what’s happening,” Irsay said. “What I found out was very concerning.
“You search for the right chemistry with any team. In football, it’s as important as any sport that there is. If that chemistry is off, if it isn’t there, it can be extremely detrimental and lower performance to a degree that is stunning and shocking.”
Wentz actually played well during the middle of the season. From Week 4 through Week 16, he threw 22 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions, the Colts went 9-3 and his 99.8 passer rating was 3rd-highest in the league.
Then disaster struck in the form of a 26-11 season-ending loss to the Jaguars that knocked the Colts out of the playoffs.
“Your guy’s gotta pick you up and carry you through Jacksonville,” Irsay said. "He has to do it. Not an option. Has to. No excuses, no explanations.”
It was the 2nd-most lopsided loss by a team that was favored by 15 or more points going back to the late 1970s, as far back as historical point spreads are available.
“No disrespect to Jacksonville, but I mean, they’re the worst team in the league,” Irsay said. “You play well and hard for the first quarter or so, and they’re looking to go to their locker room and clean it out.
“I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. You say, ‘My God, there’s something wrong here. It needs to be corrected.’ I think that we feel like we did.”
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Irsay alluded to Wentz’s stubbornness and refusal to change the way he plays the game as he gets older and his injury-ravaged body prevents him from doing the things he used to do from an athletic standpoint.
“You can’t always persuade people to do things differently if they don’t want to do them differently,” Irsay said.
“You’re always trying to look at, in all areas of your team, where the coaches can come in and enhance and lift up a situation and make things better, but in the end, players are out there playing the game, and they’re going to play their game.”