Carson Wentz can hit 'reset button' with Indianapolis Colts, coach Frank Reich says

INDIANAPOLIS -- In less than 12 months, Carson Wentz has gone from being the face of the Philadelphia Eagles to being a benched NFL quarterback to being traded to the Colts to facing questions on whether he can be fixed so that he can be the player he once was.

How things have drastically changed for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft.

"Humble pie doesn't taste good, but it's good for you, and so it's a chance for him to acknowledge he has to hit the reset button," Colts coach Frank Reich said Wednesday.

Reich knows Wentz's potential. He was the quarterback's offensive coordinator when Wentz threw for an Eagles franchise-record 33 touchdowns before a knee injury late in the 2017 season ended a possible run at winning an MVP trophy.

That seems so long ago for Wentz.

His career with the Eagles came to a crashing halt when he was benched in favor of Jalen Hurts last season after being sacked 50 times and throwing 15 interceptions in 12 games. The Colts acquired Wentz and reunited him with Reich by giving the Eagles a third-round pick in this year's draft and a conditional second-round pick in the 2022 draft.

The pressure is there for Wentz and the Colts. Wentz has to prove that he can still be a franchise quarterback in the NFL. Doing that would help the Colts, especially Reich, who could be looked upon as taking a risk in acquiring him. Wentz -- barring an injury -- will join Scott Tolzien, Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett and Philip Rivers as the Colts' fifth Week 1 starter since 2017.

"This is the game we play, the position I've chosen," Wentz said. "There's always pressure, always going to be expectations. Those things are going to be there. Been same thing my whole career: go to work, get better every day and block out the outside noise. I've really felt a lot of excitement around here."

Wentz and Reich spent two seasons together in Philadelphia before Reich became the Colts' coach in February 2018. Reich said the transition to working together once again has been smooth.

"We had a great relationship. We maintained that relationship for the previous three years I've been here," Reich said. "Reconnecting with him has been very easy. When it comes to football, we think about the game very similarly. We have similar preferences in the passing game. We see things very much alike."

The Colts will wrap up two weeks of workouts Thursday before parting ways until the start of training camp, likely in late July.

Wentz's new teammates have raved about what they have seen out of their new starting quarterback. Wide receiver Zach Pascal said he believes Wentz can throw the ball about 80 yards in the air. Running back Nyheim Hines has noticed a quarterback with a lot of "hunger."

"He was an MVP-caliber guy, and he's looking to get back to that," Hines said. "I did interviews all last week, and people were saying that he was broken and all those things. I'm sure he's heard that. We've all heard the talk.

"Honestly, with him, I don't think he cares what anybody says. I think he's driven from within to be the best he can be. He's internally motivated."

One thing Reich and the rest of the offensive coaching staff have emphasized with Wentz is that he doesn't have to try to do everything. It's OK to hand the ball off and make shorter and quicker throws to avoid sacks. The Colts gave up 21 sacks last season behind one of the top offensive lines in the NFL.

"I've been around a lot of quarterbacks. It's very common when you're struggling, when the team is struggling, to try to manufacture something that is not there," Reich said. "The problem is sometimes you can do that, but what is the cost of that? There's a fine balance there. We don't want to take that card away from Carson. He has unique abilities, and we want to give him the freedom to create big plays for us. But the trick of it all is: What's the right balance of that? That's the give and take we have to talk about and constantly challenge on a weekly basis."