- The Washington Times
Thursday, March 10, 2022

OPINION:

You can start the countdown now for Washington Commanders coach Ron Rivera. Start the clock the moment Carson Wentz puts on a Commanders jersey at a press conference and tells everyone how he is looking forward to playing for the coach.

Tick, tick, baby -— the job countdown will commence.


Wentz got Doug Pederson fired in Philadelphia, and Pederson won a Super Bowl — not, I might point out, with Wentz.

Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich didn’t wait for that countdown to begin. The quarterback whisperer, after just one season with Wentz, shouted from the top of his lungs to get this guy out of here.

And they did. Wentz was sent to the Washington Commanders in a trade that will give the Colts Washington’s 2022 and 2023 third-round picks (one of which becomes a second-rounder, based on Wentz’s playing time) plus swap second-round picks with Indianapolis in this upcoming draft.

Tonight, Reich sleeps the sleep of a free man. He doesn’t know who is going to play quarterback for him this season, but he knows who won’t be.

Rivera? His restless nights are just beginning, if they already haven’t started.

Imagine the stench that Wentz must have created in Indianapolis for them, after trading last year’s third round pick and a conditional second-round pick for this year — which turned out to be a first-round pick based on Wentz’s playing time for the Colts this season — to turn around and send this guy packing, just like that.

Imagine how painful it must have been for the Indianapolis coaches and players to allow Wentz to exist in their presence. He threw 27 touchdowns and just seven interceptions last year for the Colts. And they banished him for it, to a place where his teammates in both Philadelphia and Indianapolis probably think he belongs — Washington, where bad things happen to both good and bad people.

Wentz, according to the pile of reports that have accumulated over his six-year career, has not been beloved by his teammates. Philly Voice writer Joe Santoliquito was the first to document in January 2019 that some of Wentz’s Eagles’ teammates said he was selfish, uncompromising, egotistical and failed to take accountability.

Santoliquito was raked over the coals for the story, but everything that has followed since has validated that revealing piece. The Athletic reported that in Indianapolis “the issues with Wentz stretched back to before the season began, one source said, and over the course of the year, some grew frustrated at what they deemed a lack of leadership, a resistance to hard coaching and a reckless style of play, which had a role in several close losses this year.”

Oh, and may I add — this nimwit isn’t COVID-19 vaccinated. He missed a week of practice near the end of the season after testing positive and then presided over the team’s two-game season-ending collapse, including a particularly embarrassing 26-14 loss to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars.

This is Jeff George 2.0 — a talented but selfish quarterback who no one is crazy about playing for. Whether owner Dan Snyder was the driving force behind the trade or not, you can be sure he loves having a high-profile former first-round pick as his quarterback instead of a journeyman former XFL backup. This fits his star-licking style better.

Which brings us to Taylor Heinicke — the anti-Wentz in every way.

Wentz will be touted as an upgrade over Heinicke. I should hope so. He was the Eagles’ first-round pick, the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL draft, and was an MVP candidate in 2017. Heinicke, as we all know, is the 2015 undrafted free agent who is on his fifth NFL team. Wentz will make $28 million this season. Heinicke will make about $3 million this year.

But Heinicke, as we also know, is beloved by his teammates and coaches. There are no questions about his heart or leadership — which could make for some locker room tension on a team that was seen fighting on the sidelines near the end of their 2021 season.

Then again, Jeff George did say that leadership stuff is overrated.

Trading for Wentz is the move of a desperate man, a coach entering his third season, following two straight losing years (one accidental, forgettable, NFC East division title), knowing that the longer the losing goes on, the wider the window opens for Snyder to impose his petty will.

Riverboat Ron be sinking. Wentz is no life preserver.

You can hear Thom Loverro on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.

• Thom Loverro can be reached at tloverro@washingtontimes.com.


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