INDIANAPOLIS – Bruce Arians has been an eyewitness to two of the most successful rookie seasons by an NFL quarterback.
Arians was Peyton Manning’s position coach in 1998, and now he is the offensive coordinator for
Arians has seen Luck put together a rookie season that shows eight victories and 3,596 passing yards, the third-most ever by a league rookie. The total ranks behind Manning’s 3,739 yards and Cam Newton’s 4,051 yards from 2011.
Arians recalls struggles Manning had against AFC East teams in 1998, but says progress was shown the second time he met those defenses as a rookie.
Luck will see Tennessee for a second time this Sunday. Arians pinpointed how Luck will benefit from seeing the Titans for a second helping.
“It’s always easier when you have yourself to evaluate. You’ve played a team and you see yourself and your own offense out there watching them,” said Arians. “The game should slow down, especially third down and red zone, the two most difficult areas.
“You’ve seen what they do. They haven’t changed that much. You should be able to perform better the second time you play them.”
On October 28, Luck completed 26-of-38 passes for 297 yards, with one touchdown and interception at Tennessee as the club earned its first road victory, 19-13 in overtime. Luck directed a late 80-yard touchdown drive to tie the contest, then decided it in the extra session with a scoring toss.
“They did a great job all game of sort of making it tough to get yards (and) points. We caught a few breaks, and I guess guys made plays,” said Luck. “It’s different, interesting. You go back and watch the game before and see, ‘Wow, they really beat us up in this area, or maybe we had a little success here.’ Hopefully, we’ll correct the mistakes we made last time and get better.”
Manning was swept by Miami, New England, Buffalo and the New York Jets his first time through the AFC East in 1998.
It was a potent year for the division as all four teams made the playoffs. New England’s 9-7 record was the worst of the bunch, and its defense was the only one of the group to rank out of the league’s top seven units.
Manning hit 82-of-155 passes for 918 yards, with four touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a 52.6 rating in round one against the division. His completion percentage (55.1), touchdown passes (seven) and rating (63.4) spiked in round two, and his interceptions fell (eight).
More importantly, Manning earned his first fourth-quarter comeback win against the Jets on a late 80-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Marcus Pollard with 24 seconds left.
Arians saw the growth in Manning.
“Oh there was no doubt. There were so many interceptions the first time through and then very few the second time through,” said Arians. “I think he got his first two-minute drive winner against the Jets the second time around, if I recall correctly.
“Those phases of the game, those situational football phases should be easier for (Andrew) the second time through the division.”