On the eve of the New England’s matchup with Indianapolis in the AFC championship game, Patriots coach Bill Belichick gushed about an often-ignored part of Andrew Luck’s game: his running ability.
Luck is usually depicted as the prototypical pro-style quarterback — a tall, strong-armed guy who picks defenses apart from his perch within the pocket.
But Luck’s speed and elusiveness are a big part of what makes him so good.
Here’s how Belichick described it:
Well, Luck is hard to bring down. He runs very well, he’s athletic, [and] he can get outside and make yards with his legs. They also use him on some keep-type plays — the one he scored on for example in the Denver game last week. And he’s strong; he’s strong in the pocket. He’s got good lower-body strength. He’s got strong legs. He’s hard to wrap up.
A lot of times, he’s got guys draped all over him and he can throw the ball. He’s strong, he’s fast, [and] he’s athletic. He does a good job of throwing on the run. He’s got good vision down the field. So, he can be a sixth receiver in the passing game. [He’s a] really dangerous guy, tough guy to handle, great quarterback.”
Luck has 13 rushes of 10 yards or more this year, which is more than any Colts running back. He actually has a faster 40-yard-dash time than Johnny Manziel, so he can outrun guys if he needs to.
Against the Browns in Week 14, he escaped the rush, froze two defenders with a juke, and scored a touchdown:
Against the Ravens in Week 5, he completely blew by a linebacker on his way to the end zone:
But scrambling is only a part of how Luck uses his speed.
One of Luck’s greatest areas of improvement since coming into the NFL is his ability to avoid sacks. During his rookie year, in 2012, he got sacked on 6.1% of his passing attempts. This year he trimmed that sack rate to 4.2%, good enough for eighth in the NFL despite a suspect offensive line.
In Week 6 against Houston, he shuffled away from J.J. Watt and picked up a first down:
At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, Luck is also strong enough to break tackles. In Week 3 against Jacksonville he shrugged off a sack and picked up a first down:
Because you have to account for the running ability of Luck, it is harder to play man-to-man defence against him.
In Week 12, the Jaguars tried to play man, and Luck scampered for 20 yards:
Luck isn’t as good a runner as Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick, but he doesn’t have to be. The tricky thing about him is that he’s just good enough of a runner to make defenses plan for it.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.