A fresh start is what Carson Wentz is looking for with the Washington Commanders, but he'll be reminded of past tribulations right from the onset of the 2022 schedule and all the way through a season that plays out like a reunion tour for the former Philadelphia Eagle and Indianapolis Colt.
In a campaign in which Wentz will play against the Eagles for the first time, return to play the host Colts and also face his old head coach, Doug Pederson, he'll begin his Commanders tenure on Sept. 11 against a Jacksonville Jaguars team that essentially ended the quarterback's time in Indianapolis.
"Obviously, it will be a big game, lot of emotions going on running out here at FedEx Field," Wentz said Thursday night on NFL Network's '22 Schedule Release. "First one as a Commander. Lot of familiar faces on the other side of the ball. Obviously, the last game of last year was against the Jaguars as well and didn't go quite as planned, so definitely trying to regroup from that one and hopefully set the stage for this season the right way."
Wentz's debut versus the Jaguars will of course simply whet the appetite for a campaign highlighted by the former Eagles franchise QB facing his original NFL squad on two occasions and also returning to play the Colts.
Carson Wentz Reunion Tour
|Sept. 11||Jacksonville Jaguars||FedExField||Playing vs. Doug Pederson, team that ended his '21 season|
|Sept. 25||Philadelphia Eagles||FedExField||Playing vs. team that drafted him|
|Oct. 30||Indianapolis Colts||Lucas Oil Stadium||Playing vs. team that traded for him|
|Nov. 14||Philadelphia Eagles||Lincoln Financial Field||Playing at Philadelphia for first time since trade|
In Week 1, Wentz will face the last team he played against in 2021, as the Jaguars stunned the Colts in Week 18 and ended Indy's season in the process. At a time the hottest team in the NFL, the Colts went ice cold and lost two in a row to conclude their campaign with Wentz's subpar play often cited as one of the reasons for the team's woes. Ultimately, the Colts' fall led to Wentz being one and done in Indy.
He'll have a chance to claim some individual redemption against the Jaguars, but in the process will also face his former Eagles head coach, Pederson.
Pederson's and Wentz's final seasons in Philly were the same, 2020. Wentz struggled, Jalen Hurts showed promise and the Eagles were grounded to the tune of a 4-11-1 record. Eventually, Wentz was traded to the Colts and Pederson looked to be returning for 2021 before he was let go.
Now finding himself in Washington, Wentz will play his old Eagles squad twice in 2022. The Colts didn't play the Eagles in 2021, so this will be Wentz' first reunion with the franchise that took him second overall in 2016.
The Commanders will host the Eagles in Week 3 on Sept. 25, but the big one will be Wentz returning to Philly on Oct. 30. It's likely a safe prediction that Wentz will not get a warm reception upon his return.
"I know that'll be a big game. A lot of emotions," Wentz said. "I'm sure fans will eat that one up and it'll be fun -- make for a good storyline. But at the end of the day, it's going to be just another ballgame. It's going to be a huge divisional game for us when that one comes. So I'm excited for it, but at the same time, I'm trying not to get too excited for that one, because, again, it's just football. Can't press. Can't do too much."
In between the two Eagles games will be a trip back to Indianapolis on Oct. 30. Head coach Frank Reich stumped for the Colts brass to bring in Wentz in the 2021 offseason in the hopes of being the missing QB piece to them being a Super Bowl contender. But Wentz was unable to find his former Pro Bowl form, his stay in Indy was 17 games long and he was traded for the second time in as many offseason.
Now, Wentz is primed to start for his third time in as many seasons.
"I mean I'm going to do everything I can just like I always have, you know, and not try and force anything or push the issue or do anything outside of what I can do and what I can control," Wentz said. "And go out and try and play good football. Be accurate, be consistent, be the same guy, be a leader. I think we have a pretty young squad -- trying to be a veteran voice and a leader in that way -- and just go do my job. We have a lot of playmakers out here, and I'm excited to see how this offense kind of takes shape and what we can do."
The Carson Wentz reunion tour kicks off in the season opener. He'll play against two former head coaches and both of his former teams. It will make for some good storylines, indeed.