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For Colts’ Jim Irsay, it was ‘very obvious’ Carson Wentz had to go

Carson Wentz leaves the field after the Colts beat the Cardinals in a late-season matchup. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

In words that were uncharacteristically blunt in the vocabularies of the men who run the NFL, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay described the one-year tenure of Carson Wentz, the quarterback his team traded to the Washington Commanders this month, as a “mistake” the Colts had to rectify.

Colts Coach Frank Reich was diplomatic Monday in discussing how things didn’t work out with the quarterback he had coached as an assistant in Philadelphia, but Irsay was more focused Tuesday night, laying much of the blame for Indianapolis’s disappointing 2021 season at Wentz’s feet.

“The worst thing you can do is have a mistake and try to keep living with it going forward,” Irsay said of the decision to move forward without Wentz at the NFL meetings in Palm Beach, Fla. (via the Indianapolis Star). “For us, it was something we had to move away from as a franchise. It was very obvious.”

Wentz, who was brought to Indianapolis in February 2021 when the Colts traded first- and third-round draft picks to the Eagles, found his footing after an 0-3 start. He threw 23 of his 27 touchdown passes during a 9-3 run that preceded the Colts losing their last two games and finishing 9-8.

“For us, the fit just wasn’t right. I don’t know why,” Irsay said. “A lot of times you don’t know why, but you know it isn’t, and it was important for us to move in a different direction.”

Behind the scenes, the chemistry just wasn’t there, Irsay added.

“In having conversations with trusted veterans on the team, when you speak to them in confidence, oftentimes they share really what’s happening,” Irsay said. “What I found out was very concerning.

“You search for the right chemistry with any team. In football, it’s as important as any sport that there is. If that chemistry is off, if it isn’t there, it can be extremely detrimental and lower performance to a degree that is stunning and shocking.”

Commanders’ trade for Carson Wentz altered draft plans — for first round, at least

It was particularly galling to Irsay when unvaccinated players tested positive for the coronavirus, which happened to Wentz before the Colts’ Week 17 game against the Oakland Raiders. Because NFL protocols had been changed by that point, he played in the game but missed practice all week.

In the regular season finale, the Colts were 9-7 and still in the running for a playoff spot when they faced the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars. Their 26-11 loss was the last straw for Irsay, and Wentz’s season stats — 3,563 passing yards with only seven interceptions — couldn’t save him.

“No disrespect to Jacksonville, but I mean, they’re the worst team in the league. You play well and hard for the first quarter or so, and they’re looking to go to their locker room and clean it out. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life,” Irsay said. “You say, ‘My God, there’s something wrong here.’ It needs to be corrected. I think that we feel like we did.”

Reich spread the blame around for the Colts’ collapse and wasn’t giving up on Wentz, saying, “I know he’s going to succeed.”

“Carson played a lot of good football,” he told NFL Network on Sunday. “We did a lot of good things as a team; he did a lot of good things as a quarterback. Three quarters of the year we were one of the teams to beat, one of the teams everybody was talking about. And then we had a pretty big-time collapse in the last two weeks of the season, and we all take responsibility for that, starting with me as a head coach. What would be unfair is to make Carson the scapegoat.”

What to read about the Washington Commanders

Exclusive: An employee of Washington’s NFL team accused Commanders owner Daniel Snyder of asking for sex, groping her and attempting to remove her clothes, according to legal correspondence obtained by The Post. A team investigation concluded the woman was lying in an attempt to extort Snyder.

Capitol Hill: Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, announced that the committee intends to issue a subpoena to compel the testimony of Snyder.

Kevin B. Blackistone: If NFL players care about social justice, why haven’t they rebuked the Commanders’ defensive coordinator?

Penalized: The NFL fined Commanders head coach Ron Rivera $100,000 and docked the team two OTA practices in 2023 for excessive hitting during their offseason program this year, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

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