Jim Irsay says a lot of things. He is an, ahem, ‘boisterous’ presence as owner and seems to oscillate between drunk uncle and profligate multi-millionaire quite seamlessly. He’s had the very good, almost absurd, fortune to helm a franchise that passed from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck with only a one season interregnum. Since 1998, the Colts have had three losing seasons; PM18’s rookie campaign, the 2001 season where he threw 23 picks (the highest of his career outside of his rookie season) and was sacked a career high number of times too, and then the 2011 season where PM18 was lost to the neck surgery that ultimately ended his career in Indianapolis and led to the arrival of Andrew Luck.
Throughout that time they have won their division ten times, been to two Super Bowls and made the play-offs 14 times. This is the record of a perennial contender. However, the Colts are coming off back-to-back 8-8 seasons in one of the weaker division in football over that span. They have a poor record of drafting since that 2012 draft and have made poor decisions in free agency. Their defensively-minded Head Coach, Chuck Pagano, has overseen a deteriorating defence. They have lost Andrew Luck to injury, not coached up their talent and overall just looked very poor.
Now, Irsay came out to say that he believes that the Colts will win ‘multiple’ Super Bowls with Andrew Luck at QB. On the surface, that’s not a ridiculous statement and maybe he is looking ahead to post 2019 when (maybe!) there won’t be Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in the AFC. That makes sense. Andrew Luck will likely be the best QB in the conference then (bold, and without knowing but I’d project it from here). With the early moves of Chris Ballard, it is possible to see a better trajectory of talent across the roster both through the draft and free agency. Pagano probably deserves more credit than he got. It’s hard to not pin the blame on former GM, Ryan Grigson, who left this roster old, slow and devoid of talent – outside of that 2012 draft and a couple of lucky hits.
So, will the Colts win multiple Super Bowls during the Andrew Luck ‘era’? Here are some broad strokes Yea and Nays for the case for and against.
The Ayes have it
I used both Yea and Aye, it’s a good day. Anyway, those that would argue that the Colts will win multiple Super Bowls would say that Luck may well have the most talented roster around him since he entered the league. The work of GM Chris Ballard has been solid so far and there is every reason to think he will only continue to improve the quality and depth of this roster of the next few seasons.
Luck is also returning to full health after two lost seasons. Let us recall that he went 11-5 in his first three years, improving in the post-season each year before a series of injuries and intermittent play led to these two 8-8 seasons. Oh, and before anyone gets snippy – the Colts would likely have been 1-15 or 2-14 without Luck last year, that’s how good he is and how poor that roster was.
With more balance to the team, better player selection and a healthy Luck, then the Colts could be ascending at just the right time – that is when the Pats may, in a year or two, see major change, as too will the Steelers. This opens a path for Luck and the Colts.
Let’s face it, the Colts have an average roster at best, they are in a division that has very rapidly caught up to them and they actually could find themselves in a fierce competition within the South. Moreover, they can’t keep Luck healthy and that entire right side of the O-line is a mess, they don’t really have anyone to rush the passer and their run game is anaemic. Oh, and though the Pats may decline (pending Brady and Belichick retiring but they may go full FU and play/coach until 2025) the Colts are going to see rapidly ascending teams in Oakland/Las Vegas and Tennessee, not to mention n the perennial quality in Pittsburgh, Baltimore and the rest of the AFC West.
Really, the Colts had nearly a decade and a half of one of the greatest QBs of all time and made only two Super Bowls. They won one and lost one. If Luck replicates that, given he has already been to the post-season three times and got progressively better each year, it would be a sterling career.
But for Luck to be the transcendent figure his talent demands, he does need to win multiple Lombardi trophies. In that regard, maybe Irsay isn’t being bombastic, he is just vocalising what many think and, as the owner, making it the possessive. Andrew Luck has all the talent to win many Super Bowls, the onus must be on coaching and managing the entire organisation to realise that, as well as coaching Luck himself – if they do, he has the talent to go down as one of the greatest ever. If not, well, let’s not talk about that just yet.
In closing, it is worth saying that for all the chatter about marginally good QBs, teams looking to upgrade and then overpaying, there is a category of QB that no franchise is moving on from. Andrew Luck is such a QB. Derek Carr is proving he is close to it, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are both on their way to that status. This next generation of elite signal-callers, and Luck leads them, will dominate the next era. With the right tools, the right breaks, Luck could lead the Colts to multiple Super Bowls, yes. But better QBs than Luck have had dominant careers at their position and leading their franchise and come away with less. There is a reason why this is the hardest, most important position in sports but from a fans perspective? I will continue to watch and enjoy every snap of Andrew Luck’s career.
pic credit: sportsrant.com