INDIANAPOLIS — In February, Andrew Luck walked to the stage at the NFL Honors award ceremony to accept the league's Comeback Player of the Year award. However, at next year's ceremony, it could be an even bigger honor that he's accepting.
The Indianapolis Colts' quarterback has accomplished so much in his seven seasons in the National Football League, from making the playoffs in his first three seasons, going to four Pro Bowls, and last season coming all the way back from shoulder surgery to claim Comeback Player of the Year honors.
However, there are two major accomplishments that Luck has yet to acquire.
First and foremost is what every player signs up for: a Super Bowl championship. It's certainly the Colts' goal this year. The other big feat that has dodged Luck to this point is the honor of being named the NFL's Most Valuable Player. Many people think there's a chance that changes this year.
We’ve already covered why the Colts have been such a popular pick in this offseason’s power rankings, but with the 2019 season drawing nearer people are beginning to discuss MVP candidates.
Although he's not always predicted to be the winner of the upcoming MVP award, Luck has been included in just about all short lists.
NFL.com columnist Adam Schein has come out with his early rankings of those who could win the league's most prestigious award, with Luck coming in at No. 5. Here's what Schein had to say about Luck's chances:
"Don't let Luck's calf injury -- which will limit him during offseason workouts -- fool you. We can believe Luck when he says he'll 'be ready for training camp.'
And Luck is one of the five best quarterbacks in the NFL. He makes everyone around him better. After shoulder issues cost him all of 2017, Luck came back last season and put together one of his best campaigns as a pro, throwing for 4,593 yards (fifth most in the NFL) and 39 touchdown passes (second most) while shepherding Indy from a 1-5 start to a playoff berth. And he's the reason the Colts can be Super Bowl-bound this season."
When it comes to winning the MVP, there are some factors that can give a player a leg up in the conversation, and Luck should have the benefit of both.
First, the MVP is almost always on a really good team. In fact, of the last 10 NFL MVPs, their team won their division nine out of 10 times; the outlier's team coming in second.
"Every player on this list is on a team that I have making the playoffs," Schein said about his list of MVP candidates. "That might change. But when it comes to the MVP, I put a value on winning."
Luck and the Colts of course turned their fortunes around in 2018, going from 1-5 to 10-6 and making the playoffs. Even though they finished the regular season in second place in the AFC South, they defeated its winner — the Houston Texans — twice, including in the Wild Card Round of the postseason.
After another rock solid offseason, the Colts are considered by many to be the favorites to recapture the division that they have largely dominated since its inception in 2002.
They return essentially every significant starter from last year, have an incredibly strong nucleus of talented young players who are still ascending, are going into the second season in both their offensive and defensive systems led by a sharp,forward-thinking coaching staff and they have Luck as their quarterback.
The next big factor in earning MVP is being a quarterback. They're the most recognizable position on the field — a position that is often considered the toughest to play in sports — they touch the ball on every play, and they often put up the most gaudy statistics. It's also the position that gets the most credit when their team wins.
For reference, 11 of the last 12 MVPs have been quarterbacks. Outside of that, it's usually a running back. The last time a player that wasn't a quarterback or running back won the MVP was former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1986. It's been awhile.
Luck is coming off one of the best seasons, if not the best, of his career in 2018. The only reason his 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns would have been overlooked is because the person who did win MVP — Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes — turned in one of the best seasons a quarterback has ever had, tossing for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns.
Looking at 2019, there's no reason to think Luck couldn't get even better than he was last year. The continuity with head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni should result in a masterful use of the offensive system, and the offensive line in front of Luck that made him the least-sacked quarterback in the NFL in 2018 should give him time to execute it.
And then there's Luck's supporting cast, which Bleacher Report considers to be the sixth-best in the NFL. Wide receiver Deon Cain and tight end Jack Doyle are both returning from season-ending injuries, and the Colts this offseason added weapons in receivers Parris Campbell and Devin Funchess.
With the diverse skill set on the offensive side of the ball, and with Luck pulling the strings behind that offensive line, there's nothing the Colts' offense shouldn't be able to do, and that should shine a bright light on Luck.
In a nutshell, if your team didn't make the playoffs then it would seem you have almost no chance at being named MVP — especially if you're a quarterback.
Caesar's Entertainment puts Luck's odds at winning the MVP at 6/1, which also ranks fifth.
With a well-built, complete roster around Luck and a strong direct supporting cast of weapons, the Colts should be a contender to go deep in the playoffs.