INDIANAPOLIS —What's the best way for a team to quickly turn around a 4-12 season and get back into the playoffs?
If you're asking the NFL Network's Good Morning Football crew, a goal that lofty has a lot to do with quarterback play; and for that reason, they believe healthy Andrew Luck could very well make a huge difference in the AFC South Division standings in 2018.
In their "Believe It Or Not" segment this morning, the show's co-hosts discussed the Colts' chances of winning the AFC South with No. 12 back under center, and two of three agreed that Luck could make all the difference, while the third co-host wants to see how Luck plays in new head coach Frank Reich's offense before making any further guesses.
Luck, who continues to work his way back after undergoing shoulder surgery last January and missing the entire 2017 season, has been undergoing a stringent rehab regimen since being placed on Injured Reserve on Nov. 2, and recently introduced a smaller football into his workouts with the goal of throwing in a regulation NFL ball as soon as possible.
If and when that does happen, and it happens with regularity with no issues, Kyle Brandt and Peter Schrager believe the Colts could easily turn around their 4-12 record from a year ago:
Brandt:"It can happen. Truly. Guys, they're going to get Saquon (Barkley), they're going to get (Bradley) Chubb, maybe Quenton Nelson if they stay at that (No.) 6 (pick). They also have a bunch of second-round picks; they'll get Malik Hooker back. I think it all hinges on this: if Andrew Luck takes to that Frank Reich offense — and if they have him doing the RPO (run-pass-option) stuff and he looks like Carson Wentz at all — yes, absolutely, because they will have the best quarterback in the division, and he would always win it that way."
Schrager:"I think so — and I agree with Kyle on this one. And Andrew Luck is everything; if it's not Andrew Luck, they're not doing anything this year. But we forget how good Andrew Luck is. Andrew Luck took his team to the AFC Championship Game with arguably less talent than what the roster has right now. They're young, they have the sixth pick, they have all those second-round picks. The Jaguars went to the AFC Championship Game last year; find me anyone last April 2nd who gave them a shot in the AFC South. The Colts absolutely have a chance, and if Andrew Luck is there, they might be the frontrunners going in."
Now, their co-host, Nate Burelson isn't a Luck hater by any means. But he cautions against crowning the Colts as division champs in 2018 before seeing how Luck plays in Reich's offense:
Burleson:"I don't think we forget how talented (Luck) is. If you've forgot, then go ahead and Google Andrew Luck, because he is amazing when he's healthy. Listen: he has the arm of Aaron Rodgers, he has the frame of Ben Roethlisberger and he has the footwork and speed of Russell Wilson — that is Andrew Luck. But why does that make him dangerous? Because when he leaves outside the pocket, he wants to do so much. One thing that got him in trouble a lot is that he wouldn't give up on plays; he's got guys draped around him, he's still trying to throw that big bomb. If you're talking about RPOs and him getting outside the pocket, that's a concern for me. Because a big-framed, tall, athletic quarterback like that getting outside the pocket, with as fast as these D-linemen and linebackers and safeties are in this league, you're putting him out there to get injured. And that's why I don't like to see Russell Wilson run around. I get it that he's athletic; one thing that we do know about Aaron Rodgers is that he can throw the ball. But people forget, he's super athletic. He's very decisive on when he decides to run. I don't like seeing Andrew Luck in space because he's been so banged up."