INDIANAPOLIS — From a certain point of view, it's one of the more remarkable statistics of the early season.
Through four games as the Indianapolis Colts' starting quarterback, Carson Wentz has thrown just a single interception. And that was something of a fluke.
There haven't even been that many times when the 28-year-old has put the football in serious jeopardy. It's a stark turnaround from his meltdown in 2020, when Wentz threw a league-high 15 interceptions in just 12 games and was benched and traded by the Philadelphia Eagles.
That season increasingly looks like an outlier.
In each of the three years prior to 2020, Wentz threw just seven picks. Ball security has always been a priority for the QB, a skill that could take on even more importance with the Baltimore Ravens awaiting as Monday night's opponent.
The Ravens rank in the top 10 with three picks this year and are perennially among the league leaders in takeaways.
"Honestly, around here coaches just hammer us with ball security," Wentz said late last week. "It doesn't matter who we're playing, the opponent, all those things. Coaches do an incredible job of showing, 'This is how they like to attack on defense. This is the type of aggression they play with.' All that stuff. They're always preaching it around here.
"For us, it's just stick to what we know and what we do best. Take care of the football when we're carrying it, take care of the ball when we're throwing it and just make a concerted effort. But at the same time, we don't really change our routine on that front because we do preach it all the time around here."
The key, of course, is finding balance.
Wentz accomplished that with precision last week against the Miami Dolphins. As part of his best all-around game since arriving in Indianapolis in March, his 7.1-yard average per attempt was the second highest this season and his 115.1 quarterback rating was his best.
He finished 24-of-32 for 228 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions while picking his shots down field. His two most important throws came on the final drive, with the Colts nursing a 10-point lead.
On third-and-4 from his own 46-yard line, Wentz connected with tight end Jack Doyle for 24 yards and a first down despite a pass interference penalty being assessed against the defender. Moments later, he hit wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. for 20 yards on third-and-14 from the Dolphins' 34-yard line.
The last completion allowed Indianapolis to run out the clock on the 27-17 victory.
"I think he's doing an excellent job making good decisions, good ball placement, good ball security in the pocket," Colts head coach Frank Reich said. "I think (quarterbacks) coach (Scott) Milanovich and (offensive coordinator) Marcus (Brady) have done a good job, but obviously most of the credit goes to Carson as far as not turning it over. We've got the fumble on the exchange (in Week 1) and then the fluke interception on the shovel (in Week 2), but besides that, he's playing the position in a good manner there.
"Now it's just a question of continuing to make the kind of plays we know he's capable of making — plays that are big plays in games. But now you have to pick the pace up on that without giving back too much on the other side because it's risk/reward. You take chances to make plays, and there's always a chance that you're putting things at risk. So it's that fine balance. I think Carson is at a spot right now in his career in this specific season where I think he has the right mindset. I think he's got a very mature mindset on it. He understands what his role is and what he has to do for us to play winning football on offense."
Wentz said the search for that balance is a constant battle.
A quarterback can't be so afraid of making a mistake he passes up an opportunity for a big play. Nor can he be so focused on making a big play he ends up hurting his own team.
Last year, Wentz appeared to force too many passes as the Eagles got off to a 3-8-1 start during a season with division championship expectations.
Despite a rash of injuries — including sprains to both his own ankles — and a 1-3 start, the quarterback so far has resisted that temptation in 2021. It could be one of the more promising signs for the offense moving forward.
"You're always toeing the line," Wentz said. "We talked about it running the ball and protecting myself and making those plays but also forcing it down the field. Don't force it when it's not there, but you still have to play aggressive. You're going to turn it over every now and then. You're just going to try and limit those opportunities that you give the defense.
"I've always tried to be a playmaker and make the plays down the field when they're there but at the same time know how important that football is, and we want to end every drive with a kick. So I'd say I kind of have that back and forth in my mind almost every play of aggression but discipline, aggression and discipline. So, at the end of the day, hopefully it works out in the right way."
The Herald Bulletin (Anderson, Ind.) — www.theheraldbulletin.com — is distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.