INDIANAPOLIS – In 2012, Andrew Luck took every one of the 1,109 snaps the Colts ran from scrimmage.
Luck's ability to do so put Indianapolis among the fortunate NFL teams in being settled at perhaps the most difficult position in sports.
As Luck approaches the scrimmage line this Sunday against Oakland, it will mark the 15th time in 16 years the Colts have started a seasonal journey in most capable hands.
The significance of the matter does not escape Chuck Pagano.
"You sleep better at night," said Pagano. "We're in an ideal situation. I know some aren't."
For many years, the Colts were in that position. After drafting for and trading John Elway, Indianapolis endured a 1983-97 span where 16 quarterbacks started for the franchise.
It was a number that included high draft choices, trades or free agent acquisitions like Art Schlichter, Jack Trudeau, Chris Chandler, Jeff George, Gary Hogeboom, Craig Erickson, Mark Herrmann and Jim Harbaugh.
Only Hogeboom (7-5), Chandler (10-6) and Browning Nagle (1-0) were able to forge a winning record until the Colts solidified the spot in 1998 by drafting Peyton Manning.
Manning started his first 208 games, the longest career-opening streak by any NFL player. While lodged there, he took every snap in 178 games and handled 12,712 of a possible 13,136 snaps over 13 seasons.
Manning took the first 1,590 snaps of his career before sitting with a 44-3 lead in the final quarter of a November, 1999 outing at Philadelphia. Manning had five other streaks topping 1,000 consecutive snaps.
MOST CONSECUTIVE SNAPS BY INDIANPOLIS QBS
Player (*Denotes Active Streak)
During that 1998-2010 run, 339 quarterbacks combined to start for 31 other teams. Green Bay (3 – Brett Favre, Matt Flynn, Aaron Rodgers) was the most settled, while 20 teams had double-digit starters.
Indianapolis was mired in that regard in 2011 by having to start three quarterbacks in a 2-14 season before landing Luck. More Colts quarterbacks started during those 16 games than in the other 224 from 1998 to today.
NFL history is dotted with championships with solid head coach-quarterback tandems –Bill Belichick and Tom Brady; Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw; Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr; Paul Brown and Otto Graham; Tom Landry and Roger Staubach.
That history can be littered when the position under center is not settled.
"You got to have a plan. No matter who it is, you better have a plan in place for whoever that is," said Pagano. "Whoever that guy (is) that's got to go in and take snaps, there's certain things that that guy can do well. You're going to curtail your offense based on what that guy can do and what he can do well – how he can move the offense and matriculate them down the field."
As 2013 gets ready to unfold, Indianapolis is in as good a position that it can be.
"He (Luck) just seems so comfortable out there, even though we changed systems and terminology," said Pagano. "Obviously with Pep (Hamilton) coming (from Stanford) and being familiar, the guy (Luck) doesn't forget anything.
"Andrew's got a photographic memory, so it didn't take him probably but two days to remember the whole playbook. He just seems really comfortable."
Says second-year tight end Dwayne Allen of Luck, "He's everyone's meal ticket. If he doesn't perform, nobody eats."
In 11 career seasons, defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin has tried to derail quarterbacks. Having Luck on his side affords Franklin comfort, too.
"I'm shocked to see that Andrew Luck is a second-year player and how much he controls the team, the game and the line of scrimmage," said Franklin. "This is my first year here, and you can't tell it's his second year, how calm and poised he is. I think one day, he's going to be probably the best quarterback in the league. He's as in control as anyone I've seen as a second-year player."
As Pagano coaches, he notices the beauty of what he sees.
"Right when you see a throw you think you might never see again, five or 10 plays later, you see another 'wow' play," said Pagano. "He's just loaded with them."