Will the Colts Mann Up or do they need a Stroke of Luck in 2012?


The 2011 NFL draft was popularly referred to as ‘The Year of the Quarterback’. The subsequent season has been more recognisable as the year of the quarterback and no injury has loomed larger in NFL stories than four time NFL MVP Peyton Manning’s neck injury. As the Colts remain winless and the number one prospect Andrew Luck appear to be on a collision course Mark Payne looks into the future controversy heading to Indianapolis.

For those of you who don’t follow the NCAA football scene a brief look at the Andrew Luck phenomena is required. Andrew Luck was regarded the number one college prospect heading into the 2011 draft but chose to use an extra year of college experience and stay at Stanford. During his time with the college he broke hall of famer John Elway’s record mark for touchdowns in a season and finished second in the 2010 Heisman trophy stakes. But, as Tim Couch, Achile Smith and Ryan Leaf will tell you, being a top level college quarterback is not a guarantee of success at the highest level. So why is there so much hype behind him.

Firstly a quick track down the numbers for Luck is an enlightening experience. After a solid but unspectacular first year at Stanford Luck posted two 3000 yard passing seasons with a completion rating in excess of 70% both Pac-12 records. His TD-Int ratio is over 4:1 and he has a record breaking win percentage of 84%. A trip to the film room is where you’ll see the real quality of Luck though. He throw the ball hard and high, particularly if he’s unsure on the defensive plan in order to minimise interceptions, he shows great ingenuity to continue the play. Ordinarily the play below would be considered an unnecessary  risk but Luck seems to make these plays with relative ease.

Andrew Luck throws 50 yd pass while falling to his knees

Luck has a great deal in common with 2010 Superbowl MVP Aaron Rodgers, Luck too follows the unconventional footwork of Rodgers, opening his body in the pocket with his right foot furthest back. His release, like Rodgers’ is rapid and short and his arm strength and accuracy also bring the Packers passer to mind. I’m not suggesting that Luck will enter the NFL at the same standard as Rodgers but his passing motion and traits are very similar to Rodgers. Aside from that Luck has a will to win that is rarely seen. A quick look at this highlights real gives you an insight into Luck’s game; a mobile passer willing to put his body on the line .

Stanford Football : Andrew Luck, Not just a passing fancy…

 

The problem is, the Colts already have a franchise quarterback. A man who has won everything, smashed records and at times won clutch games without key starters. If Luck was falling number one overall to Miami, Washington or Cleveland there would be no debate but can the Colts really fit a rookie, even one as talented as Andrew Luck into the league’s most complex offence?

At present the Colts offence rarely utilise the traditional huddles leaving Peyton Manning to call the play prior to the snap after observing how the defensive have lined up. The system is complex and is manned by veterans close to Manning such as Jeff Saturday and Reggie Wayne. It is believed that Luck will score highly in the wonderlic test but committing an entire playbook to memory in the offseason and picking the right play at the line would surely be too much.

Peyton Manning’s complex offence

Therefore the only scenario I can foresee would be Peyton Manning starting in what could be his final season in Indianapolis with Luck learning in the background. New pieces will be added to the Colts puzzle to give the unit more potency and the brightest prospect of the current generation will learn the Colts offence from the sharpest football brain of the past decade. There has been a great deal of hubbub regarding a potential trade out of Indy for Manning, possibly to the Jets but I don’t see that happening. Manning is realistic on his future prospects, he knows the fusion of vertebrae in his neck is likely to shorten his NFL career drastically, he is close to retirement. Turning Andrew Luck into an elite quarterback would be the perfect end to an exceptional career.

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