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