Colts owner Jim Irsay has had a string of bad luck with quarterbacks, dating back to the sudden and abrupt retirement of Andrew Luck. Irsay currently has a starting quarterback who is injury prone or, more accurately, prone to putting himself in position to get injured. Speaking at a Saturday night event, Irsay vented a little frustration about Carson Wentz.
In comments published by Fox 59, Irsay addressed whether Wentz will play in Tennessee after suffering a pair of sprained ankles last Sunday against the Rams. Irsay then deviated into a related, and controversial, subject.
“I know he wants to go,” Irsay said. “I know how hard he’s worked. I know he’s respected in the locker room, and all those sorts of things. But, you know, he has to stay healthy. You know, no one’s hiding behind the M.O. of the past. That was there, and you know since we you know came here and going through the months we’ve been through, there’s been difficulties. And it also makes it difficult if you’re not vaccinated, you know, because it makes it harder to depend on someone if they’re not vaccinated. So they have freedom of choice and we understand that. But, you know, we — we’re hoping he can come back and play well. I think he’ll be a game-time decision.”
During the preseason, Wentz missed five days after having close contact with an infected person. He spoke at length about his decision not to be vaccinated, but he never shed any real light on the substance of the decision to put himself in position to be tested every single day (missing a minimum of 10 days if positive) and to potentially be knocked out for five days in the event he’s in sufficient proximity to someone who tests positive.
The Colts are among several teams with a cluster of key players who have refused to be vaccinated. The fact that Irsay raised the topic shows that he and the organization have frustration regarding the obvious competitive issues it creates, especially when most other teams have all or most of their players vaccinated.
Separate from the vaccination question is Wentz’s propensity to be injured. All too often, he tries too hard to get more out of a play, putting himself in position to be hit. His right ankle sprain happened when he fought to extend things long enough to throw a pass. In so doing, Wentz found himself dragged down from behind by Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald. That event in and of itself entails a real injury risk.
While there’s no questioning Wentz’s toughness, he needs to know when to call it quits on a given play. Get down, throw it away. Avoid taking the hit. That extra yard or two or split second to try to find a receiver or whatever won’t matter if he ends up missing days, weeks, months due to his latest injury.
The challenge for the Colts becomes coaching that tendency out of him. The challenge for Wentz becomes incorporate that coaching into his game, or he won’t be playing quarterback much longer in the NFL.