A pivotal partnership between Wentz and Rivera officially begins


In one respect, Carson Wentz and the Commanders already seem like a clean fit for one another. 

At Thursday's introductory presser for Washington's new starting quarterback, Wentz strolled in donning a sharp yellow jacket that meshed well with the franchise's branding. It wasn't a fresh purchase for him, however. Instead, he already had the item in his closet, as it dated back to his time in college.

"I didn't know it would come in handy here," Wentz told those assembled inside the team's headquarters in Ashburn, Va. "You know, it's [North Dakota State] colors."

The organization can only hope his football transition unfolds in a similarly smooth manner.

As far as first impressions go, Wentz made a solid one Thursday. While some of his predecessors at the position like Ryan Fitzpatrick and Alex Smith were more charismatic and more established, respectively, Wentz confidently handled his debut at the podium. 

He faced questions about the upsetting end to his season and tenure with the Colts, his leadership (which has been scrutinized by those in Indianapolis and Philadelphia) and whether he feels like this stop could be a defining moment in his NFL life. Though he may not have given the most lengthy or insightful answers to those inquiries, he didn't dodge any of them and was accountable when he needed to be.

Perhaps most importantly, Wentz expressed gratitude toward Ron Rivera and the Commanders for making the move to acquire him.

"To feel that I'm wanted here and people believe in me and support me," Wentz said, "I think it'll be a great situation to flourish."


Debating how much Rivera, the Washington front office and the rest of the coaching staff truly desired Wentz is simultaneously an interesting exercise and a pointless one, considering he's the passer they now possess, for better or for worse.

And in a scrum with local reporters, the coach did sound quite energized about how Wentz can impact the offense and contribute to better on-field results. 

"His skill set speaks very well for us, especially for what we want to do and how we want to attack our opponents," Rivera said. "One of the things it does for us is it allows us to throw the ball more vertically than we have done in the past."

Now, as already discussed, these kinds of meet and greets typically follow the same sort of pattern. The remarks, of course, are always celebratory, the people involved are always grateful and the future always looks brighter. Wentz's arrival was no different.

It's also entirely possible this event is held once again in roughly 12 months, with a different quarterback wearing a different jacket but echoing the optimism that Wentz and others before him did. The 29-year-old is by no means entrenched as the long-term solution, thanks to how his contract is structured.

But on Thursday, neither Rivera nor Wentz seemed concerned about what next year may hold — probably because this year matters so much to both of them. 

For Rivera, a resurgence by Wentz would be very beneficial, because he can ill afford another sub-.500, uninspiring campaign as Washington's head man. Wentz is also the signal-caller he's invested the most in — the trade required multiple draft picks and paying all of Wentz's $28 million salary this season — since taking over the team, so he's opened himself up to major criticism if the risk doesn't pay off.

For Wentz, meanwhile, a productive 2022 — with a stronger finish and a playoff appearance, to boot — would do a ton for his reputation and his standing in the sport. Should he come through, the Commanders offer a place for him to settle in to. Should he fail, he probably won't get a welcome like Thursday's at his next gig.

"I just think for me, I just come in and earn the respect of the guys in the locker room, the coaches, the fans," Wentz said. "I know it's not going to just be handed to me. I look forward to earning that respect and hopefully, you know, being part of something special."

Thursday marked the first step down that path for Wentz, Rivera and Washington as a whole, and it was a pleasant one. Many, many more remain, though, between them and the success they each could so badly use.