With a 33-28 win over the Houston Texans on Thursday night, the Indianapolis Colts are now 26-12 since cutting Peyton Manning in March of 2012.
Since 2012 only three teams — the Broncos, Patriots, and Seahawks — have won more games than the Colts.
The transition from Manning to Andrew Luck has been more seamless than anyone could have reasonably anticipated.
The Colts won 67.8% of their regular season games during the Manning Era (1998-2010). They have won 68.4% of their games during the Luck Era.
After losing two close games against good teams to start the 2014 season, Indy has won four-straight, scoring 31.5 points per game in the process.
It’s a remarkable turnaround from the team’s franchise-altering 2011 season, when Manning missed the entire season due to injury and they finished with an NFL-worst 2-14 record.
The 2012 NFL Draft is the primary reason for the quick turnaround, and not just because they picked Andrew Luck — the best quarterback prospect in years — No. 1 overall.
Check out the team’s first four picks in 2012:
- Andrew Luck, quarterback (1st overall)
- Coby Fleener, tight end (34th overall)
- Dwayne Allen, tight end (64th overall)
- T.Y. Hilton, wide receiver (92nd overall)
With those first four picks alone they drafted an entire passing offence.
With the exception of Reggie Wayne, no Colts skill position players have played more snaps than Fleener, Allen, and Hilton this year.
Hilton ranks in the top-25 among wide receivers in receiving yards, catches, yards per catch, and touchdowns since getting drafted. Fleener is one of the league’s most reliable tight ends. Allen quietly ranked 11th in yards per catch since coming into the league.
Wayne, who Luck inherited from Manning, is still the team’s No. 1 receiver. But those three “other guys” from the 2012 Draft are the core of Luck’s passing options. Around 37% of Luck’s career completions have gone to those three guys.
Luck is clearly the biggest reason the Colts have moved on from Manning so successfully. But hitting the jackpot on those other 2012 draft picks is important too. As we saw when Manning first game into the league (and went 3-13 in his rookie season), a great young quarterback needs weapons. The Colts got Luck weapons right away, and they have been hard to beat ever since.
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