Carson Wentz completed only five of 12 passes for 57 yards in the Colts' Week 15 win over the New England Patriots, but his impact on one of his team's biggest wins in recent memory extended well beyond the times he dropped back to pass.
For one: Wentz picked up a first down on a fourth down quarterback sneak three times, which is a skill that takes more than just falling forward with his 6-foot-5 frame.
But Wentz – as he's had all year – also had a subtle impact on the Colts' run game in how he's able to operate the offense before the snap.
"There's there's rarely a play where you're just calling (a run) and lining up and letting it ride," Wentz said.
Wentz's ability to process the information in front of him – how the defensive line is aligned, if there's a tell a run blitz may be coming, how the safeties are rotating, etc. – and then make a pre-snap check is something head coach Frank Reich has regularly praised throughout the season.
"If I were grading him on how he's handled the run game to help put Jonathan and help put our offensive line in the best position, it's been A+," Reich said. "And it's a huge part of our game."
The Colts place quite a bit of responsibility on the quarterback in the run game to make sure the offense, collectively, can dictate how it wants to run the ball. An example of how that works: Back in Week 9, Wentz got to the line of scrimmage at the New York Jets' 21-yard line and identified something for which he knew he had a solution. Wentz made a check and watched Taylor dart across the goal line a few seconds later.
"He saw rotation that way and it wasn't even part of the kill," center Ryan Kelly said. "He saw it, recognized it, got us into the play and that's when we scored."
Reich highlighted another time Wentz checked into a successful run in a way that might not have been expected. Against the Tennessee Titans in Week 8, the Colts faced a third-and-seven from the Titans' 14-yard line. Wentz read the Titans' defense and checked into a run on which Taylor picked up 12 yards, leading to a touchdown a few plays later.
"You don't see too many quarterbacks check into a run on third and seven or third and eight," Reich said. "He wasn't told to do that, but he's got the green light to do that. We trust him to do it and he's done a great job."
The Colts have the best running back in the NFL in Taylor and an offensive line that consistently wins with physicality, technique and communication. But there are other edges the Colts have that've taken this run game from being great to being elite. One of those is how well this team's wide receivers block, led by Michael Pittman Jr., Zach Pascal and Ashton Dulin.
And another is how well their quarterback can read defenses and understand run concepts – and use that acumen and knowledge to get the offense into the right plays.
"(Wentz knows) what our run principles are, (he knows) what we're trying to do in the run game, what's the best look for these three or four core runs that we have," Reich said.
Tuesday's practice report