“With the first pick in the 2012 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts select, Andrew Luck, quarterback, Stanford.” Everyone watching the draft knew that Luck would be the first pick for months. According to many experts, he was the highest rated quarterback coming out of college since John Elway in the early 1980s. Colts’ fans everywhere believed he would be the next Peyton Manning and save the franchise from a disastrous 2011 season. Six seasons later, Luck has not lived up to the hype. The past six years have not been anything that Colts’ fans anticipated on that draft night, but many say it is not Luck’s fault.
In the 2012 season, Luck took over a 2-14 Colts’ team that had the worst record in the National Football League. The Colts cleaned house, firing their General Manager and Head Coach to begin a new era. The new General Manager, Ryan Grigson, and Head Coach, Chuck Pagano were fortunate. They were able to take over a team that had the first pick in the draft. They were able to select a young and talented franchise quarterback. The first season was better than anyone thought, with Luck leading the Colts to a 11-5 record with a playoff birth. After losing in the first round of the playoffs, the Colts again went 11-5 the next two seasons, each time getting one game farther in the playoffs than the previous year. In the offseason of 2015, many had the Colts as Super Bowl contenders, and some even had them as favorites to come out of the AFC. However, that 2015 offseason is when everything changed.
Now approaching 25 years old, Luck was hitting the prime of his career. The Colts have struggled to find Luck help. First, Ryan Grigson went for many older free agents who he believed could help Andrew get to a super bowl. They did the exact opposite. They spent millions to sign Andre Johnson, a former wide receiver for the Houston Texans. In the following season, Andre Johnson only recorded 41 catches and 503 yards (colts.com). Both were career lows when he played at least thirteen games. Next, Ryan Grigson decided to sign long time running back, Frank Gore. The Colts did not know how to use him in their offense and Frank Gore rushed for under 1,000 yards and ranked twenty-ninth in the league in rushing (pro-football reference). The offense went from sixth in points per game the previous year, to twenty fourth.
Ryan Grigson was not spending the money where it needed to be. This money needed to be spent on the offensive line, and the defense. In the 2015 and 2016 seasons the Colts’ defense ranked twenty-fifth and twenty-second respectively. The defense had a tough time keeping teams from scoring which led to Luck trying to carry the team. The Colts’ defense also could not get off the field ranking in the bottom of the league again in opponents’ yards gained. Luck had minimal time of possession to create any offensive rhythm. The defense was a clear weakness in both years, and the Colts struggled to improve it. Their defensive signings were limited and their draft picks on the defensive side of the ball barely saw the field. The defense was no help to the Colts and has continuously hurt them in Luck’s career.
Next, the offensive line could not protect Luck. According to the Washington Post the offensive line ranked twenty-ninth in the league in the 2015-2016 season. Luck was being sacked more than any quarterback in the league. He ended up lacerating his kidney and missing nine games that year. This continued into the next season, which led Luck taking more hits than any quarterback in the league. The Colts’ offensive line gave Luck no time in the pocket and he was constantly having to scramble leaving him vulnerable to dangerous hits. With Luck taking so many devastating hits, he had to play injured throughout the 2016-2017 season and would miss the entire next season because of shoulder surgery.
Throughout Luck’s career, the Colts have not been able to give him a quality supporting cast. Now, Colts’ fans have no idea what the future holds. Luck’s health is still in question and the Colts are rebuilding their roster. Without Luck healthy, the Colts are trying to compete without their best player. The Colts need Luck to come back and save the franchise, this time with better management and coaching. With second year General Manager, Chris Ballard, and new Head Coach, Frank Reich, Colts’ fans have reason to be optimistic that change is coming. If they can form a quality roster around him, the Colts can be a threat in the AFC. The question is, will the Colts be able to surround Luck with the supporting cast he needs to bring them back to the promise land?
“2015 Indianapolis Colts Statistics & Players.” Pro-Football-Reference.com, www.pro-football reference.com/teams/clt/2015.htm.
Greenberg, Neil. “Don’t Blame Andrew Luck; Blame the Colts’ Offensive Line.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 13 Oct. 2016, www.washingtonpost.com/news/fancy stats/wp/2016/10/13/dont-blame-andrew-luck-blame-the-colts-offensive line/?utm_term=.afefbbdad886.
“Indianapolis Colts: Andre Johnson .” News RSS, www.colts.com/team/roster/AndreJohnson/141b5c19-3201-4a35-a93e-c38df420c7e6.
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