Realistic best- and worst-case scenarios for Wentz in 2022


Washington's trade for Carson Wentz feels a lot like the franchise's recent rebrand: Once the top options (Russell Wilson for the former and RedWolves for the latter) were removed from the equation, the organization was forced to pick from a slew of uninspiring candidates that were going to be derided no matter what.

Almost as soon as the team became the Commanders, it was ridiculed, and the same kind of reaction is now happening in the immediacy of the Wentz deal. The cost for the quarterback seems a bit steep, especially because the Colts appeared poised to eventually release him, and his production has been rather average since peaking early on in his career with the Eagles. 

But... what if this somehow works out?

With the acknowledgement that almost nothing ever works out in Washington, there's some universe out there where the Wentz acquisition actually improves the squad, right? Hello? Is anyone still here?

Just for a moment, let's lay out a realistic best-case scenario for Wentz and the Commanders in 2022. That's what you'll find below — and then, below that, you'll read about what a worst-case scenario for this season looks like, because that is always in play with this operation.

The best-case scenario for Wentz in Washington

Wentz will not do for the Commanders what Matt Stafford did for the Rams, meaning this section of the story won't feature any Super Bowl talk or even chatter about a deep playoff run. However, Wentz will be an upgrade over what Taylor Heinicke did for Ron Rivera's club in 2021, and it's not unreasonable to envision him serving as a major upgrade.


Though Wentz's 27-to-7 TD-to-INT ratio with the Colts a year ago is no doubt inflated — there's no way Indy would give up on a guy with those kind of numbers if they were truly legit — it's still far superior to Heinicke's 20-to-15 mark. Should Wentz merely replicate a similar stat line in those two areas, Washington can jump up from the 23rd-best scoring offense in the NFL to somewhere in the mid-teens, which would be a vital leap.

Wentz also has a far stronger arm than his new backup, a tool that should increase Terry McLaurin's results on deep shots. At the very least, McLaurin won't have to slow up as much or come back to the ball when his signal-caller tries to connect with him down the field, and maybe Dyami Brown is unlocked more as well. 

Along with McLaurin, Wentz ought to be surrounded by a versatile supporting cast. Since this is the best-case scenario, imagine what a — gasp! — healthy Curtis Samuel can do alongside McLaurin, a recovered Logan Thomas and Antonio Gibson, plus another gifted wideout (the Commanders certainly have more freedom to select a rookie pass catcher with the 11th pick next month) and others.

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Look, that's not a Chiefs-like nucleus, but Wentz can work with those players.

Between Wentz's better skill set and some better luck with health at the skill spots, Rivera could definitely expect more than the 7 wins he notched in 2021. Plus, the team won't be encountering a first-place schedule this fall and winter, and a more acceptable effort from the defense is possible, if not likely. 

Lastly, even with Wentz, Washington can select a signal-caller in the upcoming draft and then let that prospect come along at a smooth pace behind Wentz and Heinicke. So, there's a chance that Rivera can enter 2022 with a solid placeholder and a potential long-term answer.

Again, none of this sounds like football nirvana. Having said that, Wentz can — and that word is italicized intentionally — be a positive enough influence to help his third NFL employer compete in the division, compete for 10 wins and compete for the postseason while also keeping the seat warm for an asset with more upside. That is not too shabby.


The worst-case scenario for Wentz in Washington

Who's ready for some negativity?

While it'd be fairly surprising if Wentz doesn't turn out to be more of a contributor than Heinicke, the gap between the two might prove to be pretty slim. Wentz tossed eight fewer interceptions than Heinicke did in 2021, but the ex-Eagle did chuck 15 picks in his last go-round in Philly. He also has a past as a fumbler.

Beyond the turnovers, Wentz isn't that accurate — he was 27th in completion percentage while with the Colts — and can get maddeningly sloppy with his mechanics out of nowhere. Whatever he might provide Washington with deeper tosses could be canceled out by a bunch of ugly short misses to his running backs and tight ends.

Then there's his durability, a factor that could ruin this whole experiment before it even commences, à la Ryan Fitzpatrick. Wentz has a torn ACL, a back injury, a concussion and foot surgery in his medical history. Yes, he started all 17 contests for Indianapolis, but that doesn't mean anything going forward.

It would also be disappointing if Wentz is the last quarterback that the Commanders scoop up this offseason, yet it's entirely on the table that is ultimately the case. Perhaps Rivera gets fooled into thinking he's worth building around as much as the team can through the draft, or they just don't like any of the rising rookies. That would leave the future as bleak as ever.

Overall, Wentz may only raise Washington's ceiling by a few inches and hinder the offense with turnovers and inaccuracy — if he doesn't get hurt first. In this uh-oh situation, the Commanders would still miss the playoffs while also wasting another campaign without getting any closer to serious stability under center.