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A big slice of Luck? Colts wasting QB talent.

Through five weeks, the Indianapolis Colts are right in the mix in the remarkably (or not so much) turgid AFC South. Our preseason high hopes have been dashed somewhat by the crushing reality of mediocre play. Ok, not mediocre, downright tuurrible. Like, shockingly bad. Your faithful AFC South writer has not been absent to hide from this, oh no, he has been watching on in horror as his beat has been patrolled by Osweiler’s regression,Mularkey’s shenanigans and the Jags crushing inability to get it together. But he is back to provide some skewed viewpoints and to keep flying the flag for the maligned AFC South. So, friends, let’s have a look at Andrew Luck.

Within this general putrid output there have been a few glimmers of hope, of joy, of hope-inducing, life-affirming positive plays. Mere slivers, perhaps, but these distant points of light give succour to those of us mired in the broken-glass, dive-bar world of the AFC South.

Today we are looking at perhaps the biggest ray of light and also the most desperate – Andrew Luck. Let’s make no bones about it, Luck has been playing excellently this season. He is proving his value to the contract he is signed to. The problem is that the entire organisation around him is in no fit state to benefit from his excellent play.

In five games this season, he has thrown for 1,469 yards at a completion rate of 63.9% which is a career high. He has 10 TDs versus 3 INTs. Given that he has thrown more than any other QB bar Joe Flacco and Jameis Winston (Luck has slung out 205 pass attempts, Flacco 216 and Winston 207), that INT rate is relatively low, and particularly low given Luck’s previous INT rates.

Those stats mean little in comparison to the game tape though. Not just his game tape, either. If you watch the slow-moving train wreck that is the Indianapolis Colts week by week this season you see a team that is utterly bereft of talent and depth, an incoherently built roster that has a handful of average or better players, and one of those is their all-world, age-defying, Hall of Fame slam-dunk kicker, Adam Viniateri.

In week one, Luck tossed 4 TDs to 0 INTs and racked up 35 points against a surprisingly frisky Lions team that sailed to 39 points against a Colts D that offered no resistance. Luck nearly brought the Colts back in the 4th quarter in London against the Jags but Dwayne Allen couldn’t hold a simple pass. Last week they got their second W of the season with Luck playing a fantastic game, connecting with TY Hilton in a manner that must give some comfort to Colts fans.

So what is he doing well? The one thing he is doing fantastically well is protecting the ball.

Luck is being much more careful in his choice of pass. He knows that if he is careless, nobody else is going to help him. He has thrown an INT in three of five games this year but his INT percentage is actually only 1.5% given the amount of times Luck is having to throw the ball.

Luck is also getting hit a prodigious amount, like he has personally insulted every member of every D he has faced and his O-line are in no mood to defend his honour. I don’t think his O-line could hold on to their asses with both hands, to be honest, and the worryingly poor play of guys like Anthony Castanzo does not auger well for their ability to improve their protection. Luck’s stats and overall play look an awful lot better when one considers the mess in front of him.

These performances become even more remarkable when you consider the Colts’ D ranks dead last, or close to it, in all major categories. On tape they are poor in play design and execution, they are soft and sloppy in the tackle and get over-matched at every level. This means that Luck is usually chasing a game. This actually suits Luck, or appears to, given he has spent his pro-career having to do it. His stats in the fourth quarter jump off the page: he is 1st in passing yards, 6th in completion percentage and 1st in first downs gained. That’s all whilst continuing to get pummelled with six sacks in the fourth quarter of the five games thus far.

Additonally, we still have the run game to consider. Frank Gore is a baller, he is a certified Hall of Famer and he still has a role to play. But expecting him to be an every-down guy who can peel off chunk plays is naïve at best and downright negligent coaching at worst. Behind Gore is undrafted street free-agent Josh Ferguson. He garnered rave reviews in training camp and has shown some ability but nothing like the level of the top tier of pass-catching backs in the league. Again, the stat we will hear every week until it changes – the Colts have not had a 100-yard game from a running back since 2012.

What to look out for from here

The Colts are a long way from dead in the AFC South. The early promise of the Texans has waned, the Titans are hit and miss and the Jags seem to a few weeks from finding themselves. So whilst the Colts can’t stop anyone from scoring on them, and they can’t run the football to a degree that will change games, they do have Andrew Luck singlehandedly dragging them to relevance.

Your faithful AFC South scribe noted before the season that without Andrew Luck that this team could be a 1-15 roster. I think we are seeing this play out.

One final point is that Ryan Grigson states that Luck’s contract makes it hard to construct an effective defence. I find that to be the most callow, meek and shameful of statements from a man who has been utterly derelict in his duty. His drafting contains a veritable ‘who’s that’ of whiffs, misses and shockers. He traded away a first-rounder for Trent Richardson (I no longer care that it was seen as a potentially smart move at the time, it was a risk and it paints a wider picture of his inability to evaluate talent). The Colts had four years of Andrew Luck at peanuts and every team that competes has a franchise QB who is on big money, they are still able to draft astutely, evaluate talent correctly and trade sensibly. Grigson has not done any of these things. He should probably be trying to polish his resume because he is likely to need it either by season end or before.

To lighten your mood, check-out the excellent @CaptAndrewLuck on Twitter, it’s a hoot.

More anon, friends of the AFC South.

 

Article written by:

Gareth joined the NFLGirlUK.com team in 2016 and covers the AFC South for the site. He has been following the NFL for over 15 years, though first encountered the game through Channel 4’s hourly recap programme in the late 1980s, and over the last couple of seasons begun to write about the draft through his own blog. Gareth tweets from @GDux3 and you can also follow him on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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