Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz joined the franchise this offseason excited for a fresh start. While many criticized the trade, believing Washington overpaid for a player the Indianapolis Colts desperately wanted to move, Wentz felt wanted by the Commanders.
Things got off to a rough start. The veteran signal-caller struggled in training camp as he struggled with accuracy with reports detailing the daily bricked passes and bad decision-making. Washington wasn’t concerned and the coaching staff believed Wentz could still be the long-term starter.
- Carson Wentz stats (2022): 1,031 passing yards, 8-5 TD-INT ratio, 62.2% completion rate, 40.0 QBR
Initially, the organization seemed to be right. Wentz recorded 337 passing yards with four touchdowns in a Week 1 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 29-year-old made some jaw-dropping throws, flashing the talent that made him an NFL MVP candidate in 2017.
However, things have fallen off the rails quickly. During the Commanders’ three-game losing streak, Wentz holds just a 61.07% completion rate with a 4-3 TD-INT ratio and a 76.4 quarterback rating. Even more alarming, Washington’s offense combined for just 18 points in the last two games. It’s fueled growing calls for a quarterback change, either to proven backup Taylor Heinicke or rolling the dice on rookie quarterback Sam Howell.
According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, the Commanders aren’t even considering a change at quarterback entering Week 5. The coaching staff believes a majority of the team’s issues fall on the offensive line, a unit plagued by injuries and poor performances this season.
Washington Commanders incentivized to bench Carson Wentz
While a change isn’t imminent, it’s fair to wonder how much of a leash Washington will provide Wentz. He can become a cap casualty in 2021, cut in the offseason with $26.17 million shaved off the salary cap. It’s a huge long-term incentive for the front office.
However, there are far greater incentives for the organization to consider. The original trade with Indianapolis included a conditional 2023 third-round pick. If Wentz plays 70% of the Commanders’ offensive snaps this season, Washington must send its 2023 second-round pick to the Colts instead of the third-round selection.
There is one complicating factor with the current situation. Ron Rivera is on the hot seat and the long-time head coach certainly believes Wentz offers him the best chance to win games. Furthermore, Rivera likely feels less inclined to turn the offense over to a rookie with his job on the line.
If Washington benches Wentz and turns to Howell, Rivera could also be pushed out the door. It would allow the franchise to start fresh in 2023 with a new head coach and the front office would have NFL film to evaluate Howell and determine if he can be a starting quarterback. Nothing is happening in the immediate future, but it might not be long before the Washington Commanders hit the reset button.
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.