It is not an exaggeration to say that, if not for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Carson Wentz would not be a member of the Washington Commanders. A humiliating season-ending loss to the three-win Jaguars kept Wentz and the Indianapolis Colts out of the playoffs, infuriating owner Jim Irsay to the point where he felt a change was needed at quarterback.
“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.”
“Your guy’s gotta pick you up and carry you through Jacksonville. He has to do it. Not an option. Has to. No excuses, no explanations,” Irsay added.
It’s rare to see an NFL owner make such pointed remarks about a player, but to quote Ron Rivera and/or The Dude:
“Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”
Seeing an opportunity to upgrade at the game’s most important position, Washington traded a 2022 third-round pick and a 2023 third-rounder that can convert to a second-rounder based on incentives to acquire the North Dakota State product. And, as fate would have it, the Commanders welcomed Jacksonville to town for Wentz’s debut game in Washington.
Commanders fans were treated to the Full Carson Wentz Experience in the season opener, as the 29-year-old completed 27 of 41 passes for 313 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions and a QB rating of 101.0. The two interceptions came on back-to-back throws in the fourth quarter, the kind of soul-crushing mistakes that almost always spell doom.
But Wentz responded with touchdown throws of 49 and 25 yards to mount a 28-22 come-from-behind victory for the burgundy and gold. He threw for four touchdowns in a contest for the first time since 2017, but also nearly singlehandedly allowed the Jaguars to earn their first road victory in 18 games. Such is life when you’re playing for your third franchise in three seasons, it seems.
Wentz was not the only Commanders player who turned in a memory performance. Rookie receiver Jahan Dotson caught three passes for 40 yards and two touchdowns, wideout Curtis Samuel contributed 72 total yards and a touchdown and running back Antonio Gibson chipped in 130 yards in total offense as well.
Defensively, safety Darrick Forrest was everywhere — compiling four tackles, two passes defended, one forced fumble and an interception. Defensive lineman Daron Payne picked up a sack, batted down two pass attempts as he spent the majority of the afternoon in the Jaguars’ backfield.