Bad Luck?

Colts are strug­gling, but most still have faith in team’s quar­ter­back

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY MARK MASKE mark.maske@wash­post.com

What has hap­pened to An­drew Luck? Luck is sup­posed to be the good-news story among the top two picks in the 2012 NFL draft while Robert Grif­fin III serves as the cau­tion­ary tale. Luck spent the pre­vi­ous three sea­sons be­com­ing an elite NFL passer and tak­ing the In­di­anapo­lis Colts fur­ther into the play­offs while Grif­fin’s sta­tus with the Washington Red­skins re­gressed from of­fen­sive rookie of the year to in­jury-laden, con­tro­versy-at­tract­ing backup.

But as Week 4 of the 2015 sea­son ap­proaches, the Colts are 1-2. There is talk of or­ga­ni­za­tional dys­func­tion sur­round­ing Coach Chuck Pagano and Gen­eral Man­ager Ryan Grig­son. And Luck, the NFL’s would-be next big thing, is the league’s 32nd-rated passer, just be­hind Colin Kaeper­nick and Ryan Mal­lett. Josh McCown, Kirk Cousins and Jay Cut­ler all rank ahead of him.

It’s not ex­actly what the Colts had in mind when they brought in vet­er­ans like tail­back Frank Gore, wide re­ceiver An­dre John­son, guard Todd Her­re­mans and pass rusher Trent Cole in what felt like a push to ap­ply the fin­ish­ing touches to a team able to help Luck reach his first Su­per Bowl.

So has Luck some­how re­gressed or has the team around him sim­ply let him down and dragged his per­for­mance to its level?

Luck has thrown a league-high seven in­ter­cep­tions and has a passer rat­ing of 65.1. But few in the league seem to re­gard him as the pri­mary cul­prit.

“He’s the same guy,” a per­son­nel ex­ec­u­tive with another AFC team said this week. “He’s the same quar­ter­back. He’s got­ten beat up be­cause their of­fen­sive line re­mains a mess. Now you might be talk­ing about an in­jury is­sue.”

Luck’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in Wed­nes­day’s prac­tice was lim­ited by a shoul­der is­sue, but he and Pagano ex­pressed con­fi­dence that Luck will play Sun­day against the Jack­sonville Jaguars.

Luck’s play is far from the only is­sue with the Colts. The team al­ready has re­worked its of­fen­sive line in an ef­fort to bet­ter safe­guard Luck. Pagano said af­ter a Week 2 loss to the New York Jets that pass pro­tec­tion had been an is­sue “for three years now” and Luck should be “more than com­fort­able deal­ing with” it. Some in­ter­preted that not only as crit­i­cism of the of­fen­sive line but also of the ros­ter con­struc­tion by Grig­son.

“The guys that they brought in haven’t helped,” the AFC ex­ec­u­tive said. “It’s not a very good team at this point. I’mnot say­ing it can’t get bet­ter, as long as [Luck’s] healthy. But it has been pretty much chaos there and he’s been the one suf­fer­ing from it.”

There has been spec­u­la­tion about ten­sion be­tween Pagano and Grig­son. If the Colts con­tinue to fal­ter and Luck is un­able to re­gain his magic touch from his first three NFL sea­sons, it’s not clear whether more blame would be placed on the coach or on the GM. Some within the sport be­lieve the jobs of both would be in jeop­ardy.

“He’s taken a lot of hits,” Charley Casserly, the for­mer gen­eral man­ager of the Hous­ton Tex­ans and Washington Red­skins, said this week of Luck. “There has to be an el­e­ment of con­cern about that. Com­ing into this year, I thought he was on track to be one of the great quar­ter­backs in this league.”

Casserly said he has not seen enough of Luck this sea­son to know what has gone wrong.

Clearly it’s time for the Colts to fig­ure that out them­selves and be­gin do­ing some­thing about it.

PHOTO BY GETTY IM­AGES AND AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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