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Luck In Second Tour

Posted Sep 21, 2013

Andrew Luck is two games into his second season as the Colts’ starting quarterback. Luck has thrilled Colts fans with his early-career production, and he has become a prominent face for the team and among those who have played his position with the franchise for more than 60 years. (This story originally in the Colts-Miami Scout Magazine.)



INDIANAPOLIS – No matter how one slices it, Andrew Luck was a raging success last season while assuming the position played so well by Peyton Manning that it likely put Manning in anyone’s Top Two in Colts history for all-time performers.

 

Luck never shied away from the comparison with Manning because he truly never embraced it.  He acknowledged the franchise heritage at his position and then went about defining himself.

 

Luck said last year if he “woke up every morning trying to compare myself to Peyton, I think I would go crazy.”

 

In camp this year, he told a reporter, “Peyton set the bar for being a quarterback and certainly for being a quarterback in this town, but I do not live in Peyton Manning’s world.  I don’t feel I’m being held to some Peyton Manning standard.  I’m just trying to be me.”

 

By every measure, Luck has succeeded in “being me”:

 

  • He helped the Colts jump nine games in the win column, from 2-14 to 11-5.
  • For only the ninth time in the franchise’s 60 seasons, the team did not lose consecutive games.  Luck played a key role by taking every snap.
  • Luck set NFL rookie records in attempts (627), yards (4,374) and 300-yard games (six).
  • He was so poised under pressure that he directed the Colts to seven comeback wins.
  • He became one of 14 rookie quarterbacks ever to start a playoff game.

 

The list could go on and the numbers he achieved portray his outrageous accomplishments without manipulation.

 

Ryan Grigson sees his first-ever draft pick as a general manager demonstrating even more growth.

 

“He showed outstanding natural leadership as a rookie under extraordinary circumstances but you continue to see it ooze out of him more and more in terms of just being that guy, that leader and that field general he needs to be for this team,” said Grigson.  “He has also shown development at the line of scrimmage operationally with his cadence which is almost an art form with the top quarterbacks in this league.”

 

Chuck Pagano saw a player talented far beyond rookie status, and Luck continues to project ability exceeding his time in the league.    

 

“He seems farther than two years,” said Pagano.  “From the first time he hit the field, he seemed like a third- or fourth-year quarterback to me.  He’s so far ahead of the curve, it’s scary.  I anticipate him having another great year.”

 

Luck’s ultimate boss joins Grigson and Pagano in seeing maturation in a prized player.

 

“I think it’s tremendous,” said Jim Irsay of Luck’s growth.  “With Andrew, it’s great because he doesn’t have that first year where he’s making all the adjustments and he’s answering all the questions that he did (last year).  The second year, he just has really a chance to even be more focused. 

 

“The distractions and some of the newness are gone.  He’s well in stride now as a veteran player.  That’s going to show in his play, even though I think he was unquestionably the rookie-of-the-year last year.  He’s just going to keep getting better.”     

 

Luck was one of six Colts rookie quarterbacks in 60 years to start on opening day.  Bert Jones is the most successful of that bunch, and he knows Luck will find things smoother through experience.

 

“How last year will help is that in his own mind what his system is will be second nature, as opposed to last year when he probably was still thinking about what ‘we’re doing,’ ” said Jones.  “I know that sounds nuts, but what ‘we’re doing’ becomes kind of like your fingers when you go to grab something.  You don’t have to think about picking up a glass a certain way, you just grab it. 

 

“His offensive system will now be an appendage to his mind where he doesn’t have to think about it.  I saw him play four or five times last year, and he looked better every week to me.  The given is his motor skills are exceptional, I mean truly exceptional.  Now, his mindset will be complementary to his motor skills. 

 

“Talents like him don’t come around that often.  He’ll be gangbusters.  He already was.  I think he’s only going to get better.  The game will be significantly easier for him.”

 

Jones is not the only observer who feels Luck’s familiarity with the NFL will breed concern for opponents.

 

“I’ve always thought that kids make their biggest jump in their second and third year,” said Clyde Christensen.  “If they were a stock, that’s the biggest percentage rise (they’ll have), then it slows down.  Reggie Wayne is not going to make a 25 percent increase this year, but the Andrew Lucks can.  

 

“They really can make a big jump because they know what to expect.  It will just be his second time around seeing the pitching.  He’s seeing everyone for the second time.  He has such a great memory and mind that that will pay some dividends.  He’s played in some big games (last year), which I don’t think anyone expected us to do but he played in some huge games, including a playoff game on the road.  That’s great, great experience.

 

“I think certainly this will be a better year to judge him, although he made a pretty darn good first impression.”

 

Says Ron Jaworski, “Luck has all the attributes I look for.  Start with arm strength.  He’s an easy downfield thrower.  I love his pocket movement – at times so smooth you forget he’s six-foot-four and 235 pounds.  Luck is as tough as any quarterback in the NFL.  His strength is remarkable.  His ability to shed defenders, keep plays alive and deliver the football is extraordinary.  You have to be able to throw with bodies around you – out of a muddied pocket – from different platforms and arm angles.  Luck is outstanding at it. 

 

“Along with that, he has great vision.  He sees the field with clarity.  He possesses all the traits necessary to be a very special NFL quarterback.”

 

Luck’s wondrous success last year included the first September fourth-quarter game-winning drive by an NFL rookie since 1971.  It was done by Manning’s father, Archie. 

 

His seven game-winning drives in the fourth quarter tied the number achieved by Peyton in 1999 and 2009, tying the second-most (with seven others) in history behind Jake Delhomme (2003) and Eli Manning (2011).

 

Through it all, Luck stays focused, even-keeled, intent on being himself.  He was the quarterback who put Stanford on the path to multiple BCS Bowl appearances.  His fingerprints were all over the Colts returning to the playoffs last year after a one-year absence, but all that matters now is the present.

 

“I don’t think anyone’s content.  For us, it’s about this year,” said Luck.  “That’s where our focus is.  Guys just get that, and the tone that starts at the top with Chuck (Pagano) is one of, ‘Work hard, no matter what the circumstances, be thankful you have a chance to play football and give it all you’ve got.’ ”

 

Luck’s growth is outside the white lines, too.  He is more vocal this year by nature of experience and role.

 

“I think year two as a quarterback, you are going to grow as a leader if you are on the right track,” said Luck.  “I feel like if I have an opinion that needs to be heard, I’ll say it.  I feel more free doing that. 

 

“I guess not being the new face in the locker room, (my voice) does carry a little more weight.  Being in your second year, you assume more of a leadership role.  Hopefully, that will grow every year.”

 

ANDREW LUCK

 

On 2012’s fourth-quarter comebacks and why the success

“I think it was a little bit of the team’s DNA.  Guys never quit on the team.  We played hard through every minute.  We were fortunate to be in position to have a chance to win the game.  Reggie Wayne made plays.  T.Y. Hilton made plays.  Dwayne Allen made plays.  Our playmakers made plays when it counted.”

 

On 2013 team and individual goals

“We want to improve as a team.  You want to make it to the playoffs.  That gives you a chance to go win the big one.  Personally, I’d love to improve.  I’d love to have a little better completion percentage, make sure the ball is in our playmakers’ hands.”

 

On if there was an element of surprise team won 11 games
“I think inside the locker room, inside our building, there wasn’t too much surprise.  Not to say that we expected to win every game, but we worked hard and we prepared.  We didn’t practice to go out and lose games.  We wanted to win just like any other team.  I don’t think the element of surprise in that sense was as big inside our locker room as it was outside of it.”

 

On how he looks at 2012 QB draft class and if it is competition or camaraderie

“As a football fan, I definitely pay attention to what other quarterbacks do, especially guys in your draft.  You build up somewhat of a fraternity (sense), if you will, just by virtue of coming out in the same year, being at a lot of different functions through the pre-rookie, pre-draft time.  You get to know the guys well.  A bunch of guys have Texas connections, so that’s sort of an interesting sub-plot to our rookie draft class.  I always wish the best for all of them, unless we have to play them.”

 

On the approach to the running game

“A big focus of Pep’s (offense) is to make sure we are not running negative plays from the snap.  We’ve embraced it as quarterbacks.  If we can get to the line of scrimmage and get our angles better on a certain run or make sure we are not running out of free guys, then we’ll do that because we want this team to be successful.  The O-line has bought in.  We know that we have running backs that can take it to the house on any given play, so our run game is comprehensive.  It’s not perfect by any means, but we are still getting better on it.”

 

On importance of increasing completion percentage and if 54 percent hurt last year

“Yeah, it did hurt. We won some games and got to the playoffs, but we could have maybe won some more and not have dug ourselves in so many deep holes.  The ball needs to be in the playmakers’ hands and our playmakers are our wide receivers, our tight ends and our running backs.  I don’t need to be running with the ball.  The ball doesn’t need to be on the ground, it needs to be in those guy’s hands, so it is important to get it there.”

 

On how much of hits/sacks last were on him, not line

“More than you’d think.  None of them a casual fan would think.  The O-line, blocking, tight ends, running backs will get a bad rap sometimes for giving up sacks, for giving up hits.  If the quarterback doesn’t see the blitz and doesn’t throw (the) hot (route), then that’s my fault, and that happened more than not.  If I scramble and I wasn’t forced to scramble and I take a hit as I’m running throwing away, then that’s on me.  That happened more often than not.  That’s something I’ve worked on in the offseason.  You can’t take so many hits as a quarterback.  It’s the nature of things.  It’s not a toughness thing, it’s just you can’t take hits.  It’s the way it is.”

 

On how to eliminate hits

“Understanding protection is a big part of it.  Knowing who is going to be blocked.  Who are the free rushers?  Knowing when to get the ball out of your hand.  Knowing when to tell your running back, ‘Hey, maybe stay in on this one.  I don’t need you out on the route.’  Or, making sure the running back does get on the route so you have that option.  It’s understanding protections, and offenses and defense.”

 

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT ANDREW LUCK

 

REGGIE WAYNE

“What I would much rather Andrew do is build his own legacy, whatever that is.  Andrew, he can’t be a Peyton Manning.  He can’t be a Tom Brady.  He can’t be an Aaron Rodgers.  Only thing Andrew can do is be Andrew.  Whatever you’re motto is, that’s what you need to work on.  I love what I see in him.  He’s going to be very good.  He’s going to be the face of the NFL soon.”

 

CHUCK PAGANO

“From day one, he’s been the leader we thought he was going to be coming in here.  From the first time he stepped into a huddle his first minicamp as a rookie, he commanded the respect of that huddle.  Andrew always finds a way to say the right thing right at the right time, and it’s never over the top.  He’s just got that way with people and that’s how he’s wired, that’s in his DNA.  He has the respect of this whole entire organization and, obviously, the locker room.”

 

CHUCK PAGANO

“Right when you see a throw you think you might never see again, five or 10 plays later, you see another 'wow' play.  He's just loaded with them.”

 

PEP HAMILTON

“He’s selfless, he’s a great teammate and in a lot of ways, he’s a quiet leader.  He has a way of holding guys accountable without calling them out or putting them on the spot, and that’s a great attribute of a leader.  That’s something he’s been able to do.  I’m not saying he hasn’t evolved as a leader over the years, but he’s consistent more than anything.”

 

DWAYNE ALLEN

“He’s everyone's meal ticket.  If he doesn’t perform, nobody eats.”

 

MATT HASSELBECK

“Andrew's a fascinating guy.  He's always trying to learn, always trying to get better.  It could be ping pong, it could be learning a different language, studying history or architecture or football.  He’s all about football.  He’s not all about being in the NFL.  There’s a difference.”

 

DONALD THOMAS

“With where I came from, and with Tom (Brady), you just know that the quarterback is in charge.  You know (Tom Brady) knows what to do.  When I got into the huddle with (Luck), I got the same feeling.  That really did surprise me a little.  He has the makings to be that great.  He has all makeup – the physical traits as well as the ability to make decisions under pressure.  You really just forget he’s that young.  He conducts himself well in the huddle.  He doesn’t get rattled.  He’s good under pressure.  He doesn’t point fingers.  That’s what you need in a leader.”  

 

AUBRAYO FRANKLIN

“I’m shocked to see that Andrew Luck is a second-year player and how much he controls the team, the game and the line of scrimmage.  You don’t find too many second-year guys who are that familiar and comfortable in an offense.  This is my first year here, and you can’t tell it’s his second year, how calm and poised he is.  I’m not going to compare him but as a guy going into his second year, he’s grown in leaps and bounds.  I think one day, he’s going to be probably the best quarterback in the league.  He’s as in control as anyone I’ve seen as a second-year player.”

ANDREW LUCK BY THE NUMBERS

 

MOST ROOKIE STARTING VICTORIES IN A SEASON

Total

Name

Team

Year

13

Ben Roethlisberger

Pittsburgh

2004

11

Andrew Luck

Colts

2012

11

Matt Ryan

Atlanta

2008

11

Joe Flacco

Baltimore

2008

11

Russell Wilson

Seattle

2012

 

MOST TOUCHDOWN PASSES BY ROOKIE QB

Total

Name

Team

Year

26

Peyton Manning

Colts

1998

26

Russell Wilson

Seattle

2012

23

Andrew Luck

Colts

2012

22

Charlie Conerly

N.Y. Giants

1948

21

Cam Newton

Carolina

2011

20

Dan Marino

Miami

1983

20

Andy Dalton

Cincinnati

2011

20

Robert Griffin III

Washington

2012

 

ROOKIE QUARTERBACKS TO START PLAYOFF GAMES

Year

Name

Team

W-L

Totals (C-A-Y-TD-In-Rating) *Won first game

1983

Dan Marino

Miami

0-1

15-25-193-2-2-77.6

1985

Bernie Kosar

Cleveland

0-1

10-19-66-1-1-56.0

1986

Jim Everett

L.A. Rams

0-1

9-18-136-1-2-54.2

1991

Todd Marinovich

L.A. Raiders

0-1

12-23-140-0-4-31.3

1999

Shaun King*

Tampa Bay

1-1

28-61-320-1-3-47.2

2004

Ben Roethlisberger*

Pittsburgh

1-1

31-54-407-3-5-61.3

2008

Joe Flacco*

Baltimore

2-1

33-75-437-1-3-50.8

2008

Matt Ryan

Atlanta

0-1

26-40-199-2-2-72.8

2009

Mark Sanchez*

N.Y. Jets

2-1

41-68-539-4-2-92.7

2011

Andy Dalton

Cincinnati

0-1

27-42-257-0-3-51.4

2011

T.J. Yates*

Houston

1-1

28-55-343-1-3-53.8

2012

Andrew Luck

Colts

0-1

28-54-288-0-1-59.8

2012

Robert Griffin III

Washington

0-1

10-19-84-2-1-77.5

2012

Russell Wilson*

Seattle

1-1

39-62-572-3-1-102.4

 

Andrew Luck’s Year-by-Year Statistics (2009-11, Stanford; 2012, Colts)

Year

GS/GP

ATT

COMP/PCT.

YDS

TD

INT

2009 Stan

12/12

288

162 / 56.3

2575

13

4

2010 Stan

13/13

372

263 / 70.7

3338

32

8

2011 Stan

13/13

404

288 / 71.3

3517

37

10

2012 Colts

16/16

627

339 / 54.1

4374

23

18

 

ROOKIE QBS WITH 4,000 YARDS, 10-PLUS STARTING WINS

Year

Name

Team

Yards

Wins

2012

Andrew Luck

Colts

4,374

11

 

Andrew Luck’s Rookie Season Breakdown

Category

GS/GP

ATT

COMP

YDS

TD

INT

Home

8/8

308

169

2145

12

5

Away

8/8

319

170

2229

11

13

Indoors

7/7

283

148

1999

14

7

Outdoors

9/9

344

191

2375

9

11

AFC

12/12

442

241

3088

14

11

NFC

4/4

185

98

1286

9

7

Division

6/6

199

109

1410

8

5

 

QBS IN LAST 25 YEARS WITH NINE-PLUS GAME JUMP, ONE SEASON

Total

Name

Years

Records

10

Peyton Manning, Colts

1998 to 1999

3-13 to 13-3

10

Chad Pennington, Miami

2007 to 2008

1-15 to 11-5

9

Kurt Warner, St. Louis

1998 to 1999

4-12 to 13-3

9

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh

2003 to 2004

6-10 to 15-1

9

Andrew Luck, Colts

2011 to 2012

2-14 to 11-5

 

MOST FOURTH-QTR/OT COMEBACK WINS IN A SEASON

Total

Name (Age)

Team

Year

8

Jake Delhomme (28)

Carolina

2003

8

Eli Manning (30)

N.Y. Giants

2011

7

Dan Pastorini (29)

Houston

1978

7

Brian Sipe (30)

Cleveland

1979

7

Bernie Kosar (23)

Cleveland

1986

7

Don Majkowski (25)

Green Bay

1989

7

Jake Plummer (24)

Arizona

1998

7

Peyton Manning (23)

COLTS

1999

7

Tom Brady

New England

2003

7

Peyton Manning (33)

COLTS

2009

7

Matt Ryan (27)

Atlanta

2012

7

Andrew Luck (23)

COLTS

2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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