Nearly three months after the Indianapolis Colts chose Andrew Luck with the first overall selection of the 2012 NFL Draft, they agreed with the former Stanford Cardinal on a $22.1 million contract. Any first year QB would automatically collect a sizable amount of scrutiny and pressure just from becoming the initial pick of the draft, then signing a lucrative deal. But both Luck and the Colt franchise were involved in a very unique situation, which enhanced the scrutiny and overall demands of his rookie season even further.
Following The Path Of A Legend
Luck was immediately thrust into the unenviable position of leading a franchise that had been guided with great success by his predecessor, future Hall Of Famer Peyton Manning. Among #18’s accomplishments was the production of 399 TD passes, along with 54,828 yards as a Colt. There was also the little matter of his starting all regular season and postseason contests for an incredible 13 consecutive seasons, before complicated and lingering neck issues forced him to sit out the 2011 season. That hastened a complete freefall for the franchise from a record standpoint, which resulted in the Colts being in position to execute that lofty selection during the subsequent draft.
Luck Performed Without A Potent Rushing Attack
Understandably, Luck’s performances were also compared to fellow rookies RG3, and Russell Wilson last season, particularly as the year progressed. And considering the exceptional numbers that RG3 generated throughout most of the season, and the outstanding production that Wilson delivered over the latter half of the year, one might underestimate just how effective Luck was during his initial season. Because he was asked to execute more heavy lifting within the Colts’ offensive approach than Wilson and RG3. He did not have the benefit of a strong rushing attack, as the Colts ranked just 22nd, and were led by Vick Ballard’s 814 yards. Conversely, the Redskins and Seahawks both finished within the top three of that category, and were paced by Alfred Morris (1,613 yards) and Marshawn Lynch (1,590 yards). Those were the second and third highest yardage totals respectively among all rushers last season.
The Colts Relied Heavily Upon Luck
Indy was so dependent upon Luck, that he ultimately launched 627 passes during the regular season. That was the NFL’s fifth highest total, and established a record for rookie QBs. If also helped propel Luck into seventh among all signal callers with 4,374 yards. That total placed him in noteworthy company, between Manning and Aaron Rodgers. Plus, it was yet another record for Luck, who broke the passing mark for rookies that had been set just one year earlier by Cam Newton (4,051). That becomes even more impressive when you consider the team’s underwhelming rushing attack that was discussed previously, along with the fact that Luck was often forced to succeed despite immense pressure. And he was sacked 41 times, which was the NFL’s fourth highest total. That contributed to his 54.1 completion percentage, which placed him a lowly 31st among all signal callers in that category. For some sobering perspective, Blaine Gabbert, Mark Sanchez and Jake Locker all exceeded Luck’s number.
Reasons For Optimism
Still, the ramifications of his performance in that category should be put into perspective, in view of the deficiencies surrounding Luck that he still managed to overcome. Plus, even though team victories do not translate into fantasy points for his owners, he should be commended for spearheading Indy’s mammoth improvement in the standings. As he guided the franchise to 11 wins, while escorting the Colts into the postseason. That is quite an achievement, considering that the Colts staggered to a wretched 2-14 record in 2011. And even though Indy might not attain the same amount of victories in 2013, there are multiple reasons to believe that Luck's numbers should improve.