Albert Breer, senior NFL reporter for Sports Illustrated's MMQB, talks with Colts.com's Jake Arthur about the status of quarterback Andrew Luck and gives his thoughts on the rest of the Colts roster heading into the 2018 season.
What are you guys watching for in regard to Andrew Luck?
"I want to see him throw it. Like everybody else, you see it on TV but it's different when you're there in person. Getting the chance to see him actually throw the ball, to me, that's what I'm gonna be keeping an eye on. I believe when Colts people say that they're very optimistic about where he's at right now and that he's gonna be able to go. If you buy into that then I think the next question is 'What percentage is he going to be that he was before?' Because he's the closest thing the NFL has had to a LeBron James-type prospect in the last 20 or 30 years. So, is he gonna be what he was? Is he gonna be 90 percent of what he was? Is he gonna be 80 percent of what he was? I think that's an open question. Because, again, he was considered a transcendent talent coming out of Stanford, and so I'm excited to see that part of it. What level of Andrew Luck are we gonna get? We won't really have answers on that yet out here, we'll get answers on that as we get closer to the season."
People's predictions on the Colts aren't that bright this year. Do you think that's people being hesitant until they see Luck, or is that the general synopsis of the roster around him?
"I think there's healthy, fair skepticism about Luck. It's been a long time, and the fact that we haven't seen him in a football game in - what has it been, almost two years? - there's fair questions about what is he gonna look like when he's back out there. So, I think if you look at the team without Luck, then they're still in year two of a rebuild by Chris Ballard. If we're looking at Luck at 100 percent then everything gets accelerated. I think Chris and his team have done a good job putting pieces in place. The offensive line, I think is in better shape than it was. The secondary is in better shape than it was. They've got some guys in the front seven now. I think it's a better team than it was 18 months ago. I think what we know is if Andrew's healthy, it just accelerates everything. We saw it with what Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano did six years ago. They were going through a similar type of teardown and rebuild coming out of the Bill Polian era, and the Colts made the playoffs the first three years. And that was because Andrew Luck accelerated everything. So if it's 100-percent Andrew Luck, everything that Chris has done, I think gets accelerated."
Outside of quarterback, what are some key areas of this team to keep an eye on?
"The two areas I mentioned; the offensive line, if their two rookies win jobs, will have four top-40 picks in front of Andrew Luck. He's never operated in that environment before. So, I think that the face of the offensive line and what the offensive line's gonna be, that's really interesting to me because if you look at it on paper, if the draft picks pan out and Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith are what everyone thinks they're gonna be, we're talking potentially about an offensive line that could be as good as the Colts have had in over a decade. And then, the secondary, I know the old coaching staff felt like Malik Hooker was about to turn a corner, and he was already really good at the end before he got hurt. He had the three games in a row with picks, right? They felt like he was ready to turn another corner. So, if he's healthy, I know they believe he can be an All-Pro. And Quincy Wilson was a good, solid corner by the end of the year. So, the secondary could look a lot different, too. That will allow Matt Eberflus to do some things up front. It's just, you see the investment in that secondary, you see the investment in the offensive line, and if things sort of turn out the way the Colts hope they do, it could change the face of the team."