INDIANAPOLIS — Chris Ballard issued a challenge to Andrew Luck following the Indianapolis Colts' season-ending loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs a little more than three months ago.
Facing his first fully-healthy offseason in years, Luck was encouraged by his general manager to get away from the game for a little while and actually enjoy his offseason.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Luck initially found this task to be easier said than done. After working so hard to get all the way back from major shoulder surgery in 2017 and turn in perhaps his best-overall season with the Colts in 2018, Luck learned it would take a while to shake the structure and rhythm that a full NFL season can provide.
Fortunately, Luck eventually was able to break away. He was able to see family and friends, and even returned Monday for the start of the Colts' offseason workout program a married man, having tied the knot with his longtime girlfriend, Nicole, late last month.
Now feeling "refreshed" — he said he hasn't even thrown a football all offseason — Luck says he's more than ready to jump right back in to football and work on taking the next step in Year 2 under head coach Frank Reich.
"Like, really it took a while to say, 'This is OK to reset,'" Luck told reporters on Monday. "But I do think it is necessary and our sort of chance to regroup, refresh but now continue the same ethos of just getting better every day, improving and enjoying it."
While the first couple weeks of the offseason workout program are physically limited to weight room and conditioning work, the players are able to participate in classroom work with their coaches for the first time since the end of the previous season.
Luck, who turns 29 in September, is hoping to build off a very successful first season with Reich at the helm calling the plays. The NFL's 2018 Comeback Player of the Year, Luck posted career-bests in completions (430), passing attempts (639), completion percentage (67.3) and quarterback rating (98.7), throwing for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns in all.
Forever a perfectionist, however, Luck acknowledged there were several areas of his game he was going to be chipping away at heading into the regular season — well, "all areas," to be exact, but he touched on a few in particular Monday.
"Cut down on interceptions, accuracy, in the run game making sure the points and the ID's are correct," Luck said. "I think I could do a better job of setting our offense up to have a positive play each time – minimizing the possibility of a negative play. Protecting the ball. I want to throw more touchdowns. I want to put more points on the board."
Must be refreshing to hear if you're an offensive-minded head coach and your Pro Bowl quarterback isn't sitting on the results of his MVP-level performance from a year ago.
"You can just tell that there's a great mindset, an eager mindset," Reich recently said of Luck. "Last year it was eager but in a different way; 'To get my shoulder right, do everything so I can be here for the team.' It was about the team, but it was, 'I've gotta make sure I'm there.' Well we know he's here for the team, so now it's going to those next couple layers, in the offense, for the team — it's pretty exciting."
Having learned Reich's system last year, Luck is eager to have much better overall command and ownership of the offense moving forward.
"Yeah, I think that has to happen for me," Luck said. "I think for me to take the next steps as a quarterback, certainly. And owning it is probably the appropriate word and command — understanding the why and where; the evolution of certain things and certainly making my feelings about plays, ideas or schemes known. A lot of it too is about creating great discussion at this time of year and trying stuff out, thinking about it, talking about it and leaving with a good plan. That's certainly a challenge for myself this offseason and one that I am looking forward to."