Andrew Luck Silencing Any Questions About His Right Shoulder
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INDIANAPOLIS – One year ago today, when the Colts officially ended Andrew Luck’s 2017 season by placing him on injured reserve, there were questions if No. 12's NFL career was over.
Today, there are questions (with answers) if the 2018 season is heading towards the best of Luck’s career.
While the wins have not been as abundant as Luck would like, and probably the reason why one shouldn’t call this the ‘best’ season of his 7-year career, the quarterback’s individual numbers are trending towards a career-best campaign.
Luck hasn’t shown that, even though he was away from playing for 19 months, is also learning a new offense and is not receiving much help from his undermanned wide receiver group.
Through eight games this season, Luck is 225-of-342 (65.8%), for 2,187 yards, 23 touchdowns and 8 interceptions for a quarterback rating of 96.2.
Here are 5 takeaways from Luck’s 2018 campaign:
-Arm strength is there: Would Luck and the offense have liked to hit on a few more deep balls? Definitely. But what Luck has done in 8 games, making a wide variety of throws, is silencing any lingering questions about his right shoulder. Clearly, there are no concerns about Luck’s workload. He’s needed zero rest days from practice during the regular season (something he had to do on a weekly basis in 2016). And he’s throwing the ball at an absurdly high level. His 225 completions and 342 attempts are on pace to shatter previous career-highs.
-Touch, accuracy on display: One of the first things that stood out to Chris Ballard about Luck in Training Camp was the QB’s touch. That has translated into the regular season. Despite a gluttony of drops, Luck has thrown for a career-high in completion percentage (65.8) through eight games. In Luck’s previous seasons, he hovered around a 60 percent passer. This offensive system, concentrating more on underneath throws, has definitely aided Luck’s completion percentage in 2018. But we are still seeing some impressive balls fit into down the field windows from No. 12.
-Excelling in Frank Reich’s system: Are we forgetting that Andrew Luck is also playing in a new offense, and dealing with his 4th play caller in the NFL? The early returns are very strong. Luck has adapted quite well to changing his playing style a bit in Reich’s offense. Of course, the rare pass protection has been more than welcomed. And the added bonus of a very productive run game lately has been huge. The marriage of Reich and Luck is the exact relationship that the 29-year-old quarterback needed. Luck really trusts Reich and that should not be overlooked.
-Few more wins all that’s missing: Individually, the numbers are about as good as anyone could have expected from Luck in his return. But no one is going to pat Luck on the back for a 3-5 record. Obviously, the quarterback does not deserve a chunk of the blame for the Colts being 3-5. But the offense did have its shortcomings early in the season, from not finishing off drives and turning the ball over in critical situations. For this season to truly be the best of Luck’s career, it’s going to have to result in a postseason run. Fair or not, we put a lot of onus on wins/loss record when comparing quarterbacks. If the Colts duplicate their 3-5 record in the second half, it’s going to put a stain on Luck’s season, even if the quarterback does achieve career marks in so many categories.
-Pro Bowl caliber season: Luck is on pace for 46 touchdowns this season (40 is the highest TD number of his career), has the second lowest interception rate of his career and we already mentioned the efficiency he’s put up in 2018. That’s a Pro Bowl season. Now, Luck would probably be on the outside looking in for the Pro Bowl right now, because of the team's overall record. But his pure individual numbers are Pro Bowl-caliber. Plus, Luck is putting up those numbers with Anthony Castonzo, Marlon Mack, Jack Doyle and T.Y. Hilton missing a combined 16 games this season. Luck’s 23 touchdowns have gone to 11 different receivers, the most in team history. When you factor in the personnel Luck has had to play with in 2018, that only adds to the strong quarterback play we’ve seen in his return. For Luck to be a Pro Bowler, and be in the group of Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger this season, a 3-5 mark in the second half of the season cannot be duplicated.