INDIANAPOLIS – More than one voice around the Colts last year, and even some on the outside, described
While no player is perfect, Luck hummed on a number of cylinders last year.
Luck (339-of-627 for 4,374 yards and 23 TDs) set NFL rookie records in attempts, yards and 300-yard games (six).
He helped lead seven fourth-quarter or overtime game-winning drives, tying the mark for the most by any NFL quarterback since 1970 and done only six other times.
Luck took every offensive snap and put the team in so many positions to win that for only the ninth time in the franchise’s 60-year existence did it not lose consecutive games.
Luck talked Wednesday of getting better.
“It’s incredibly cliché, but everywhere,” said Luck of where he can improve. “I think an example is accuracy. I’d love to complete more balls. I don’t think I did a good enough job of giving guys catchable balls in some situations.
“Understanding football, understanding how to convert third downs, how to get in the red zone, how to score when you’re in the red zone. (There are) a lot of areas.”
Luck’s only work prior to training camp last year came on six days – the rookie camp and mandatory mini-camp.
At Anderson University, a devoutly Christian institution, he received his football baptism and got his fingers wet in preparations that allowed the club to make a nine-game jump from 2-14 to 11-5 with a roster full of new players and a new head coach.
Chuck Pagano was one of those who termed Luck as a tough judge, and he knows how Luck will approach 2013.
“He’ll go back and look at all of his throws. He’ll look at his fundamentals and technique as a starting point,” said Pagano. “That’s what he’ll go to work on now.
“We’ll look at turnovers and say, ‘Let’s cut that in half.’ We’ll document them and break down exactly why did this happen? Is it schematic? Is it fundamentals? Is it a tipped ball? Is it because of pressure? What’s the reason?”
As last year’s top pick, Luck negated the demands on the outside by focusing on himself and absorbing the instruction he received.
The offense employed by the club was more vertical in nature than what he saw at Stanford and will see this year.
Luck endured 41 sacks and an estimated 148 hits. One statistical service identified 245 sacks, hits and hurries over 16 games.
The Colts had a 12.9 completion average, third-best in the league. Another service ranked Luck third in the percentage of deep attempts (27 percent) where receivers targeted were more than 15 yards downfield.
After completing 67 percent of his collegiate passes, including a marks of 70.7 and 71.3 in his final two seasons (with a TD:interception ratio of 69:18), Luck completed 54.1 percent and had 18 interceptions last year.
Every coach and true competitor wants improvement.
“Everyone knows Andrew is his own worst critic. He’s harder on himself than anybody,” said Pagano. “That’s why he’s here now. We’re all here to find ways to take that next step and reach the ultimate goal.
“From the coaching staff to Andrew to whomever, they’re going to dissect (last year). They have been (already). That’s what the whole off-season period was for. We’ve had changes, but that evaluation process is on-going.”
Luck did not offer himself any slack for being a rookie, and he likes a team-wide approach of self-analysis as Indianapolis seeks a strong season.
“I don’t think being a rookie is an excuse,” said Luck. “I think you can go to every guy in this locker room and they’re going to be their worst critic. I think this team is full of a bunch of guys that work their butts off, that are going to be hard on themselves if they mess up. I just try and fit in with those guys.
“There’s a lot to improve. I wish I could have done some things better last year, but it’s onto this year and we’ll go with it.”
One of the most gifted quarterbacks ever to play also joined Luck as one of only six Colts rookie quarterbacks to start on opening day, Bert Jones.
The Ruston Rifle is not a harsh critic of the player extending the franchise’s proud quarterbacking heritage.
“Talents like Andrew don’t come around that often,” said Jones. “I think he’s only going to get better.”