INDIANAPOLIS — Will the Indianapolis Colts be counting on Andrew Luck to throw the ball 50-plus times each and every week?
That’s what ended up playing out in Sunday’s 2018 season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, as Luck, in his first NFL regular season action since the 2016 regular season finale, attempted 53 total passes in the Colts’ 34-23 loss at Lucas Oil Stadium.
But head coach Frank Reich said that won’t likely be the norm for his offense moving forward.
“That’s too many times — generally speaking,” Reich said Monday about Luck’s passing attempts in his weekly appearance on 1070 The Fan’s “Colts Roundtable Live.” “You do what you do to have to win the game — we did get into a no-huddle mode there where we were throwing quite a bit — but we’re going to do whatever it takes; we’re going to call plays to win the game. But generally speaking, you want to be more balanced. I think that’s the winning formula.”
The Colts (0-1) were much more balanced in the first half of Sunday’s game; in all, Luck attempted 25 passing attempts, while the Colts ran 15 run plays for 60 yards — an average of four yards per carry.
Coming out of halftime with a 16-10 lead, however, Reich said his team noticed a shift in the Bengals’ defensive personnel, and decided to air it out much more often over the course of the final two quarters.
The numbers certainly reflect that shift; the Indy offense threw on 80 percent of its plays in the second half after throwing the ball 63 percent of the time in the first two quarters.
As a reference, the Philadelphia Eagles, where Reich served as offensive coordinator the past two years, passed the ball 54 percent of the time last season in their run to a Super Bowl title.
“We got in the no-huddle mode, and we can run the ball out of the no-huddle, but they were playing us in a personnel group that we felt like we had a really good mismatch in the passing game,” Reich said of Sunday's game. “So we did emphasize the pass more when we were in that no-huddle mode.
“We certainly, in a normal scenario, would like to call a few more runs in the second half.”
Luck was still extremely efficient despite a high number of passing attempts, as evidenced by his 73.6 completion percentage. Luck’s 39 completions on the day were also a single-game high for the seventh-year quarterback, who connected with nine different receivers throughout the contest.
“I thought his accuracy was good. I thought he was really poised,” Reich said of Luck after the game. “I thought physically he looked good. He threw it well. He spread the ball around — that’s what we want to do.”
Sunday was a relatively clean game injury-wise for the Colts.
Cornerback Chris Milton, who was evaluated for a concussion and did not return, was the team’s only reported injury throughout the contest. Milton is now in the league’s concussion protocol.
Reich said on Monday in a conference call with reporters that J’Marcus Webb, who started the game at right tackle, also suffered a hamstring injury.