Colts Concern? Has Andrew Luck Lived up to Expectations?
The short career of Andrew Luck has had its fair share of ups and downs.
Updated: June 8, 2017 • 12:06 PM ET
Andrew Luck is still searching for his first Super Bowl appearance.
Has Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck failed to live up to expectations?
Back in the 2012 NFL Draft, Luck was revered as one of the greatest prospects in more than a decade. Regarded as a near perfect specimen by some pundits, he was often compared to other great quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and John Elway. Some speculated that he would eventually become the next great NFL quarterback, and those are high expectations for a young quarterback that had yet to play a down in the NFL.
With so much hype surrounding him, it was almost certain that Luck would have an immediate impact in the NFL. And that was true, for the most part. Luck began his career well enough, joining a rebuilding Colts franchise as a rookie and throwing for more than 4,000 yards with 28 total touchdowns.
Year by year, Luck’s game has improved, but he hasn’t quite reached the pinnacle expected of him. Granted, he’s still young and suffered a season-ending injury in 2015 that continued to plague him well into the 2016; but he has yet to become the quarterback he was promised to be.
This isn’t to say that Luck isn’t a good quarterback, or that he can’t be one of the greatest in the game. When evaluating his regular season stats, we can see that Luck has proven he’s a good quarterback.
In that first season with the Colts, Luck threw for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns with 18 interceptions (76.5 passer rating). The following season, Luck performed at a higher level, throwing for 3,822 yards and 23 touchdowns with just nine interceptions (87.0 passer rating). 2014 was arguably Luck’s best season, throwing for 4,761 yards, 40 touchdowns and 16 interceptions with a 96.5 passer rating. Last season, Luck threw for 4,240 yards and 31 touchdowns with 13 interceptions (96.4 passer rating).
Those numbers are great, but they’re not enough. When we’re told a quarterback will be the next Manning or Elway, it’s not enough to just win in the regular season — postseason play is far more important. The postseason is the best way of determining which quarterbacks are truly in the top tier. When it’s do-or-die time in the playoffs, teams have to know that their leader is capable of helping them reach the ultimate goal, a Super Bowl.
That doesn’t mean a quarterback has to make it to a Super Bowl every year. But elite quarterbacks make their team title contenders, simply because of their presence. If a team has a down year, they should be able to bounce back, so long as they have their man behind center.
NFL quarterbacks who are considered elite undoubtedly include Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers. What do all of these players have in common? They find a way to reach the postseason almost every year, performing well once they get there and most importantly, finding ways to win.
Luck’s good, great even, but his postseason record leaves something to be desired. In his career, Luck has a 3-3 playoff record, passing for nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Not great.
This is where it all really matters. Performing well in the regular season is one thing, but postseason games are when it really counts. The playoffs is when the best teams in the league square off, moments that determine if the man behind center can be counted on to find a way to win.
In his first playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens during his rookie year, Luck and the Colts lost 24-9, during which he threw for 288 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception. To be fair, it was an impressive feat for him to even carry the Colts to a playoff berth, especially considering their horrendous season the year prior.
Luck looked a little better in the 2013 playoffs, when his Cots defeated the Chiefs 45-44 in a hard-fought battle. However, Indianapolis lost the following week, 43-22, against Brady and the New England Patriots.
Without a doubt, 2014 was Luck’s best postseason showing, making it all the way to the AFC Championship game. Unfortunately, his Colts proceeded to get blown out 45-7, once again by Brady and the Pats.
Perhaps it’s not fair to be too critical of Luck. He’s only been in the league for five seasons and during two of them, he dealt with injury problems. But the truth is, for a quarterback that was expected to be one of the greatest to ever play the game, he isn’t even the best in his draft class.
Third-round pick Russel Wilson has had a far more successful career than his first-round (No. 1 overall) counterpart. Wilson has already made two Super Bowl appearances, winning one and coming a play short of a second. He holds an 8-4 postseason record, and has helped transform the Seattle Seahawks into a consistent top team in the NFC. Seattle also consistently finds itself as a Super Bowl favorite, what an elite quarterback is supposed to command.
Every year, Luck and the Colts have to compete against the Patriots and Steelers for a Super Bowl berth, but the path hasn’t exactly been easy for Wilson and the Seahawks either. Though it may sound like this is saying that Wilson is a better quarterback than Luck, that isn’t the case. It’s a simple matter of comparing the impact that both these players have had on their teams.
Some may not consider Wilson an elite quarterback in the league — but he helps his team win and makes them contenders — and that’s the most important aspect in evaluating whether a quarterback is truly elite.
It’s too soon to make a decision on what kind of quarterback Luck will be. He has shown promise, but if injuries continue to impede his game, we may never see the Andrew Luck we were promised. Will he become another Manning or Elway? Or will he become another Dan Marino? Only time will tell.