Andrew Luck is coming for the NFL.
Even after three highly successful years in the NFL, Andrew Luck’s career still feels like it’s building to a monumental level.
Three weeks out from the regular season, it feels as though 2015 will be the year Luck takes over, entering his name, officially, in the “best quarterback” conversation.
In 2014, Luck threw a league-best 40 touchdowns to go with over 4,700 yards (third-best) on 616 attempts, third highest. Luck’s completion percentage, 61.8% was a bit lower than some of the top quarterbacks, and it may have affected his advanced numbers, placing him ninth in Football Outsider’s Defence-adjusted Yards Above Replacement and 11th in Defence-adjusted Yards Above Average.
However, Luck is just 25. He’s still on his rookie contract. When he’s due for a raise, some people think he may turn into the most expensive player in the league.
And entering his fourth year in the NFL, people already think he’s ready to turn the corner. This is perhaps best evidenced by the quotes coming out of Chicago Bears players in the Colts-Bears joint practices.
Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee raved about Luck, first describing Luck cleverly saving a possession during a two-minute drill:
“He’s very smart. I mean you can clearly see on that two-minute. It was third-and-one and they got an illegal formation and they [get] backed up. I don’t think the coach said [do] a hard count, and he [did a] hard count and the whole defence jumped. He got his third-and-one back. You feel me?
“You know he’s a very smart quarterback. He took all his reads. He doesn’t try to get rid of the ball too fast. He’ll sit in the pocket and play football… You’ve got to be on point with everything because he’s elite.”
It’s unclear if this is the same two-minute drill McPhee was referring to, but Luck reportedly put on a show in at least one two-minute drill:
Andrew Luck’s turn at the 2-minute. Luck goes 5-of-6. TD pass to Hilton and the two-point conversion to him. Found 4 different pass catchers
— Kevin Bowen (@KBowenColts) August 20, 2015
McPhee also described how tough it is to defend Luck:
“A great test because he’s the type of guy (who) can run [or] he can sit in the pocket. So it’s different angles how you have to rush him. Instead of going against Jay everyday at practice, you’ve got to be disciplined in your rush, where you can’t go too high or Andrew will take off or you can’t come under too early, and he’ll take off. He’s a great quarterback.”
Bears safety Antrel Rolle said:
“He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He’s very wise beyond his age. He runs a very efficient offence. He’s very great at looking off defenders and he’s very poised with his decision-making. He’s a hell of a quarterback.”
Cornerback Tim Jennings added, “Andrew Luck is as good as you’ve got in the league.”
Luck will also be working with a far greater offence than last season. Whereas last year, his top rusher was Trent Richardson, and his only receiver to break 800 yards was T.Y. Hilton, the Colts added Frank Gore as their primary rusher, while beefing up the receiving corps by adding Andre Johnson and drafting Phillip Dorsett.
Johnson told Sporting News that catching passes from Luck was a big part of the reason he left Houston to join the Colts:
“That was a big part of my decision this offseason, when I became a free agent, just going to a place that had an established quarterback and a great quarterback. That’s a reason why I came here. … He’s very smart. When I first got here, you would think he’s been in the league for 10-12 years. He has a lot of experience even though he’s been in the league for a short period of time. Those are some of the things that stand out. Once you get on the field with him, he’s very prepared. He’s a hands-on guy. He can tell you how he wants things, stuff like that.”
In ESPN’s quarterback rankings, in which they surveyed league insiders for insight on each starting quarterback, Luck drew rave reviews. One GM compared Luck to Michael Jordan:
“You want to talk about a guy who makes the team? He is Michael Jordan. Their defence sucks. Every game, he has to outscore everybody. He is the epitome of a 1. If I was to draft tomorrow any player in the NFL, it would be Andrew Luck one, Aaron Rodgers two.”
One head coach said Luck has all of the qualities of the NFL’s best quarterbacks rolled into one: “He is as smart as Peyton, he is as accurate as Brady, he is tougher than Ben and he is as athletic as RG III.”
In an ESPN poll of its NFL writers, writers weighed in on who should be the league’s highest-paid player. While Aaron Rodgers got the majority of his votes, some felt Luck should be the highest-paid player. Dolphins writer James Walker wrote:
“He’s already a top-three quarterback and may turn out to be the league’s best quarterback by the end of this season. Luck single-handedly stabilizes the entire Colts franchise. Whatever Indianapolis pays Luck under the salary cap probably won’t be a true indication of his value.”
With the burden of expectations, how could Luck respond to being anointed Future Best Quarterback in the NFL? He’s kept his expectations low, telling CBS’ Jason La Canfora he only wants to improve in the red zone (again, he led the NFL in touchdowns), third downs, and limit his turnovers. Simple! He’s not even done improving yet.
The hype around Luck is tangible. Whether the lofty expectations for Luck can bear out in one year remains to be seen, but the NFL world is bracing itself for Luck to dominate.
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