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Indianapolis Colts

Inside The Trade: Dan Orlovsky

Former Colts and NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky, who is now breaking down the game for ESPN, joins Matt Taylor and Jeffrey Gorman to discuss why he loves the Colts' trade for Carson Wentz

Now it's time to sit down, I love this cat and it's a great story about him too because he is a former Colt great. Yeah, you heard me – a former Colt great. When you talk about the quarterback position in 2011, we're talking about an almost remarkable victory against the Patriots and don't forget about the Houston Texan comeback. I'm talking about Dan Orlovsky. How are you Dan?

"Good morning, I'm doing well. How about you guys?"

Doing great. Listen, we are going to get into the (Carson) Wentz thing and what happens with that, but I have to stay with this – what you do for a living, not now, but what you did for a living back then there is more fighter pilots in the world than there are quarterbacks starting on Sunday. You realize that you reached an elite level playing the position for as long as you did in the NFL?

"Absolutely. I always say this to people in a respectful manner, I always keep in mind that no one knows how hard it is to go and do that for the length of period that I was fortunate to do it other than me. Sometimes people ask me, 'Why didn't you really make it in the NFL?"

You did make it, what are you talking about?

"There is 64 of us on planet Earth, and no, I wasn't one of the best 20 or 30 but I was one of the best 64 for a dozen years. So I know how rare that is and how thankful I am for it and again, how hard it was for me to accomplish that. So it was an awesome run. All the work and sacrifice was totally worth it."

Dan Orlovsky again, the former Colt, NFL quarterback, ESPN NFL analyst is with us on Twitter @Dan Orlovsky7. And Jeffrey (Gorman) is exactly right, you were great at what you did in the NFL – just as good breaking things down in front of the camera on ESPN. When you heard the news of the Colts trading for Carson Wentz, what immediately went through your mind. Did your antennas go up as good move, risky move, bad move? What was your initial take?

"Great move. When Carson Wentz had stayed quiet for a long period of time – the post Doug Pederson firing, post Nick Sirianni hiring, I still had the gut feeling like he definitely wants out of Philadelphia. When you start to go, 'Where should he go for him to have success?' The two places that stood out in my mind were San Francisco and Indy just because the way the organizations are run, the way the rosters are built, the way the quarterback position is coached. So when I saw it was Indy, I immediately thought of that is one of the, if not the best-case scenario for him. It's a really good situation for the Colts as well, who are a win-now team, a win-now roster. And if there was a situation that could bring out the best in a player both on the field and off the field – because I always say this, people talk about 'Well, how is the fit?' That should never be the question. The question should always be, 'Can the player excel?' This was the place that I thought Carson Wentz could excel again as a player."

With any trade that potentially deals with a first-round pick, which is the case for the Colts potentially having to give up their 2022 first-round pick, I think there is a level of risk involved. But how much risk do you see here with Carson Wentz and the Colts knowing he didn't have the most spectacular 2020 season?

"So there is a high level of risk with the first-round pick that you are kind of jeopardizing so to speak and the reality that you never know what the player is going to be like when you bring him to a new football team and a new locker room coming off a bad year. But two things that I think make that risk less than the initial shock – one, again the organization and the coach. That is a very big deal in this. I am very outspoken. I don't think there is a lot of really well run organizations in the NFL. That's why we have so many roller-coaster teams and I don't think the quarterback position is coached very well in the NFL. That's why there is only a group of guys that consistently play well. So the fact that they've got such a well-run organization and Frank (Reich) mitigate that risk a little bit. Then the second thing is this, and this is the big point that I really tried to hammer home over the last year – there is a big difference between being a bad player and a player playing bad. Carson Wentz isn't a bad player. I mean you don't do what he did those three years, 17, 18 and 19 and the historical stretch that he has had, and then have one year and say, 'Well, that's the guy he is. (He's) s that one year guy that played in 2020.' He just played bad. Sometimes that just happens. There is definitely risk involved, but because of the factors of Frank (Reich), the organization and kind of the background of what the player has been through four years other than just looking at it for one year, it's way less risk than the initial view point."

What does (Carson) Wentz have to do here as far as being successful? We've got an offensive line, we've got a running game – stuff that maybe he didn't have so much in Philadelphia. Is he (going to) have to be mid-level pack type of guy so this team can be successful?

"Well the first thing he has to do is look at himself in the mirror and ask what hand or how much did he play into what happened this past year? Yes, there are variables that factored in to him not playing well. So before ever getting to Indy and trying to become the guy that they hope he is, he has to look at himself in the mirror and say, 'Okay, where can I grow? Where can I get better? What could I actually learn from and why things transpired in one year the way that they did?' And be honest about it. I think the second thing he has to do is figure out why he wasn't good enough in the locker room. The rumors are what they are, but there is some truth to them I'm sure that okay, maybe he didn't connect well enough with teammates or maybe he was difficult to coach and stuff. There is a difference between being difficult to coach and being demanding from your coaches. And seeing where can he grow from and – because you can't just say walk in the locker room and be yourself because maybe that version of yourself wasn't good enough, and that's OK. Now, when it comes to the play on the field, no, he can't just be average. This is a team that – listen, they made a move with a first-rounder and a third-rounder because they feel they are a Super Bowl contending team minus one piece, and that piece has to be really good quarterback play. They are also coming off a year where Philip (Rivers) played pretty darn good football for three out of those four months, especially on the back half. He's got to play top-10 level at that position in football and he should. So the big thing is to understand that he's one of 11. I've said this, this 2021 Colts team should remind people a lot of the 2017 Philly team when he went on his MVP run – top-five offensive line plus the run game, no superstar on the outside but four or five really good pieces. Where it was about ball distribution other than forcing it to a guy. A defense that you can rely on, that you don't have to say – Carson Wentz threw nine interceptions last year in the second half, okay? Eight of them were when they were trailing. That is the perfect sign of a guy that is just trying to force things so much. He just needs to understand I am one of 11 and go in and earn the respect of his teammates day after day after day."

I want to double back to something that you talked about earlier and I have a little bit of a two-part question, you talk about why quarterbacks aren't coached very well right now. Why is that, and why do you think Frank Reich is able to get the most out of the quarterbacks that he deals with?

"I would number one is quarterbacks are so talented nowadays because the coaching starts way younger. They get all these different types of unique throws, platforms and athletic movements. They are so talented that a lot of the coaches lose sight of the little things. In any aspect of life but specifically in sports and playing quarterback, you stop paying attention to the little things – the fundamentals, the basics over the course of a month, becomes three months, becomes six months, becomes a year, becomes two years. Then all of a sudden, those things that got you to allow the talent to shine, those have started to wither away and become less and less and less. The coaches look at the player and go, 'He is so talented.' So many guys that are young get away with so many plays because of that talent that they stop paying attention to those basic fundamentals of your feet, the mechanics, the eye discipline, the rhythm with your throw, the balance and everything. That becomes a weakness of their game that was once a strength of their game and coaches don't pay attention to it enough and that needs to be something that is harped on every single day because the talent is never allowed to shine as good as it should without the foundation of the fundamentals and the basics. Why I think Frank (Reich) does the best and will get the best out of him, I think Frank's (Reich) ability to be truthful and dead honest is big. I think his accountability is huge. I think his communication skills. I've said this and have been around coaches – and Sean McVay was probably the best one that I had been around and I wasn't around Frank (Reich) other than one year. So many coaches set an expectation or a standard level for players and then they expect players to get themselves there. Great coaches go, 'Okay, this is our expectation or our standard level,' and they are aware that each guy needs different skills or tools to get to that standard level. I think Frank (Reich) does a really good job with quarterbacks in that regard. Obviously, he has a great football mind. If you look at the young quarterbacks that are playing well in the NFL right now, all of them have a guy that played quarterback in the NFL in their room in some capacity – quarterback coach, OC or head coach. I just think those guys have the ability to tell guys what's real and what isn't, and I think that is a strength of Frank's (Reich) as well."

Do you think the Colts will have to change their offense or tweak their style of play on offense to fit Carson Wentz or will it be the other way around?

"Yeah, that is always a marriage. You never want to just tweak your offense to fit just your quarterback. You really want to tweak your offense – what can our offensive line do? What is our offensive line capable of? The Colts need to go get a left tackle. What is that left tackle capable of doing? You really build it from there. You never want to just tweak it for one player. Then no, this is a really good offense for Carson (Wentz), offenses should always be moving targets. You always want an identity of who you are going to be, but how you do it is the moving target. Carson (Wentz) should be very comfortable in what Frank (Reich) is going to run. Frank (Reich) should have a very good understanding of what Carson (Wentz) is comfortable running, but it all starts with what the offensive line is capable of, who we have on the outside and how do we complement our football team defensively? So it is all a big picture, but I think at the end of the day it is always a marriage of collaboration."

I've followed you from your first time on ESPN, and now look at you. That first time live on ESPN compared to the pressure and preparation of starting a game in the NFL on the road, what was more pressure for you?

"Definitely the television. I was comfortable in television, but it was my first time doing it. I had been playing football for a long time. I would say this, the feelings that you get before a game in preparation and then you get to gameday, I still get those before shows. Some shows are a little bit bigger because of the game you're covering – or is it a Tuesday NFL Live? But you still get that anxiousness, that excitement. It's not on the same level, but it's pretty darn close. I've been fortunate. I've taken the competitive kind of ego or wanting to be the best at it that I had with football and I have kind of taken it into television. I have a ton of fun with it but it gives me a very similar rush with the preparation and then the performance."

Carson Wentz is in the fold now and there is a lot of work to be done between now and the start of training camp. Where do you stack the Colts in the AFC? They made the playoffs last year, but do you see them as a team that can really compete for the conference title next year because of this move they made at quarterback?

"Unquestionably. I said this the day he was traded, I think there are four teams in the AFC that stand out: Kansas City, Buffalo, Cleveland and Indy. Those are the four most complete – I think Cleveland is going to be really good as well. The reality is this, (Chris) Ballard getting that trade off and still having a one and two this year is enormous because if Carson Wentz looks like the 2017-19 version of himself, which I believe he is going to, that is why I say these things – you're looking at the reality of adding three big-time football players to a team that was really, really, really good and pushed Buffalo to the brink. Yeah, they are a bonafide AFC representative and making a key move here or there is only going to make them better. If the quarterback plays the way they expect him to play, this is one of the best teams in football."

What is Tom Brady doing? I mean get out of here. What is he doing?

"Well, I think the reality for all of us watching Tom (Brady) and Tom (Brady) playing is Tom (Brady) made a decision 20-plus years ago that he was going to be the greatest as long as he wants at the very top and every life decision came under that umbrella and if it didn't help him accomplish that goal whether it was travel, vacation, eating, workout or whatever, he didn't do it and we are just watching him reap the benefits that everyone else – he is reaping the benefits of those decisions and he still throws it as good as anybody from the pocket. He ain't going anywhere for a long time because that offensive line is really good and he still has players on the outside."

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