Carson Wentz did some good things in his 2021 debut but was hit 10 times, though the Colts did not point fingers after their 28-16 loss to the Seattle Seahawks Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. JJ Stankevitz
The box score backed up what was plain to see during the Colts' 28-16 Week 1 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday: Carson Wentz was under pressure quite a bit.
Wentz was hit 10 times, including three sacks, in his Colts debut by a swarming Seahawks defense. Two of those sacks came on third downs and the other came on a fourth down - so every one ultimately resulted in the Seahawks winning back possession.
The reason behind all that pressure, though, may not necessarily be as simple as it might've seemed to those watching on TV or in the stands at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"I'm not ready to just dump this thing and say the offensive line played bad, so forgive me for that," head coach Frank Reich explained. "But I need to see the film. I understand what it looked like, I also understand there's a lot that goes into it. I'm not saying they can't get better, I think we all can."
For example: On that fourth down sack, on which Seahawks defensive end Darrell Taylor got past right tackle Braden Smith to bring down Wentz, Reich said there was a miscommunication and "I'll leave it at that," he added.
Still, Colts center Ryan Kelly took responsibility for the offensive line's play and the amount of times Wentz was pressured.
"One of the biggest things is to keep the quarterback safe. We gave away too many hits," Kelly said. "That's not our standard of play. This is a good realization of where we are and where we have to go."
Something Kelly pointed to is the three times Wentz scrambled - he gained 23 yards on those and didn't appear hindered at all by his foot, which he had a procedure performed on just under six weeks ago. But Kelly and the Colts' offensive line would've rather allowed Wentz to feel comfortable in the pocket than have his athleticism and toughness be put on display.
"Unfortunately you saw how tough he was today," Kelly said. "Doesn't feel really good as an offensive line. Put it on our shoulders, it's not the standard we hold ourselves to. We'll be better next week.
"... First and foremost, we're a pocket protection team. If he's scrambling that many times, it's not the safest in the pocket. That's on us. We'll go back and watch it as an entire offense and I'm sure that everybody's got something they can get better at."
Reich felt like "there was a lot of good" with what Wentz did against the Seahawks - he completed 25 of 38 passes (66 percent) for 251 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, good for a passer rating of 102. He had a handful of standout plays, like: An empty-protection flick to Michael Pittman Jr. in the second quarter, a couple of third down strikes to Mike Strachan, a zippy shot to Parris Campbell and his two touchdowns to Zach Pascal, among others.
But Wentz, too, shouldered some of the responsibility for how much he was pressured.
"There's a handful of of plays I want back that I could've got us in the right protection and helped us out," Wentz said. "So you can never take it right at face value. So we gotta learn from it, learn from the tape, and that's on all of us."
The general feel from the Colts in the aftermath of Sunday's loss - the team's eighth consecutive season-opening defeat - was that there were mistakes to be corrected after going back and watching the film, and that the team as a whole was frustrated those mistakes were made.
But there also was the recognition that this was just one of 17 games to be played in the 2021 season. That mantra came from an upbeat talk given to the team by Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay after the loss, and is one bolstered by the experience the 2021 team had in its first game together.
"Guys are frustrated with the loss. Everybody takes it hard and everyone is accountable for their own mistakes," Wentz said. "It's cool to see - I can already see how hungry everybody is. We'll be right back in there tomorrow working and everybody's hungry to get better. It's a good culture, guys are ready to go, go back to work, frustrated with it but we'll learn from it."