Complacency breeds failure, as the old saying goes.
One thing Washington Commanders coaches won’t have to worry about with quarterback Carson Wentz is the threat of him becoming complacent. It won’t happen, at least judging by his first few weeks in Ashburn over the course of on-field activities this offseason.
“He’s intuitive, he’s curious, he’s hungry for football—that’s the part that’s fun for me,” said Commanders quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese. “We got certain technique things that we’re working on, he’s making those adjustments.”
Zampese has been around the game of football as a coach for over three decades. He started as a graduate assistant at USC before rising to become the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator from 2016-17, and finally to Washington in 2020 as QBs coach.
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Zampese, like many others in Ashburn, has been impressed with what he’s seen so far from Wentz. The 29-year-old does have a lot to prove this year, after all, as some pundits have labeled 2022 as Wentz’s last chance to prove he’s worthy of a starting role in the NFL.
Wentz has not shied away from working on the fundamentals either, despite his résumé including an MVP bid in 2017 and a 3,500-yard, 27 touchdown season last year in Indianapolis.
“We’re just trying to get him to finish through his throws, get his hip out of the way, left side out of the way so we can get more of his arm,” Zampese said. “Be lined up to where you’re throwing, just general things.”
Wentz’s transition to Burgundy & Gold has taken place during the absence of his WR1 Terry McLaurin who is seeking a long-term extension on his rookie deal, which he’s entering the final year of.
The Commanders have echoed their eagerness in keeping McLaurin around, with Ron Rivera bluntly noting last week, “We’re not trading Terry.”
McLaurin’s absence has opened the door for rookie wide receiver Jahan Dotson, among others, to develop chemistry with Wentz. At OTAs and minicamp over the last several weeks, it seemed as though whenever Dotson and Wentz were on the field together, Dotson would find himself open and Wentz would target him.
“He’s fitting in with the guys in the room and the guys in the receiver group and on the team,” Zampese said. “He’s fitting in fine and we just need to get him more time with us.”
Wentz himself has praised Dotson's performance thus far, as well. The QB noted, “he catches the football as natural as anybody I've been around,” speaking of the rookie.
Aside from Dotson, Wentz has made good with other targets. Rookie tight end Cole Turner has shined thus far in Ashburn; Curtis Samuel, though still dealing with general body problems, has worked well when paired with Wentz on the field; second-year WR Dyami Brown is hoping to rebound after a humbling rookie season.
But it takes two to tango. For the Commanders to make real waves this season, Wentz must utilize his supporting cast to play close to his ceiling.
Wentz knows that, Commanders fans know that, and Ken Zampese knows that. But from what they’ve seen from the QB thus far, it might not be unfair to be cautiously optimistic. Again, Wentz’s curiosity is at the heart of his potential success in D.C.
“He’s curious, and in a good way. That’s what we’re looking for,” Zampese said. “The communication’s been great, his ideas, doing what we’re asking him to do and wanting to know, ‘Hey, how do you want to do this, how do you see this play?’ That curiosity will get us further, faster. It’s really been fun that way to see that.”