INDIANAPOLIS — While it's already been noted how many national analysts view the Indianapolis Colts as they head into the 2018 season, NFL.com's Dan Hanzus is taking stock in the team's optimism — especially when it comes to its quarterback.
Hanzus recently put out a series predicting each NFL team's Most Valuable Player for 2018, and Andrew Luck is his choice for the Colts. He writes:
"Put it this way: If Andrew Luck is not the Colts' most valuable player this season, that means something has (once again) gone very wrong in Indianapolis. We choose to buy into all the optimism coming out of Colts Land and expect Luck to make a successful return from major shoulder surgery. The big question: Will Luck still have the old zip on the ball? If he doesn't, he might have to change the way he approaches the game -- a transition that could take time. Hopefully, we get the mad bomber version. That guy's fun!"
We all know that MVP awards in many football scenarios oftentimes come down to, "Here is the best quarterback." However, Luck was one of just six AFC quarterbacks Hanzus named MVP for their team, so he believes the term "most valuable" can be attached to several positions across the roster.
However, when Hanzus said, "If Andrew Luck is not the Colts' most valuable player this season, that means something has (once again) gone very wrong in Indianapolis," is that necessarily the case?
It cannot be discounted what Jacoby Brissett was able to accomplish with the Colts in 2017 in Luck's absence. Brissett was acquired by the Colts near the end of the preseason and just nine days later was the Colts' new starting quarterback. This year, he is on the same level as the other quarterbacks as they all get adjusted to head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni's system. With Luck not fully participating in practice, Brissett has received the reps as the first-team quarterback, so he has received invaluable practice time.
But when Luck does return, and the reps become his again, all eyes will be fixed on how the ball looks coming out. After all, Luck returned to practice briefly last fall and was chucking passes 30 to 40 yards downfield. As Hanzus mentioned, will
Luck still have that zip? After working with throwing specialists Tom House and Adam Dedeaux earlier this offseason, the belief is Luck's arm strength should be no problem. This segment from HBO's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel highlights a program that House and Dedeaux developed specifically for arm strength:
It has been mentioned several times during Andrew Luck's recovery process, particularly more lately, that he has worked on rebuilding his arm strength. We have heard plenty about weighted balls, including throwing balls heavier than NFL regulation footballs to achieve that strength.
Assuming Luck's health, the chances are rather favorable that he could indeed be the Colts' MVP by the end of the 2018 season. First and foremost is Reich and Siranni's quarterback-friendly system that has seen the likes of Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz and Nick Foles thrive.
Luck also has one of the deepest groups of offensive weapons that he has had to date — many of whom are unproven, but the potential is certainly there for the Colts to be a problem for opposing defenses. These weapons also come from all layers of the offense, and players such as Nyheim Hines and Eric Ebron — both newcomers in 2018 — can line up just about anywhere in the formation, creating mismatches.
If all goes as planned with Luck's return, then the possibilities for what he and the Colts' offense can achieve will far exceed many people's expectations
Hanzus might be onto something here.