Don't look now, fellow Indianapolis Colts fans, but it sounds like not everyone in the NFL thinks that Andrew Luck will be the greatest quarterback since Peyton Manning, at least not yet. On June 15, NFL scout Greg Gabriel held court at NFL.com and set the over-under for Luck's rookie season, and that bar falls somewhere south of the standard built by Number 18 during his years in Indy. In particular, Gabriel envisions Luck in a season-long, ahem, horse race with Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins and actually expects Griffin to come out on top. In any case, Gabriel says that neither of these rookies will touch the rarefied air inhabited by the Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton in 2011 and should instead set their sights on accomplishments of the Cincinnati Bengals' Andy Dalton. Sounds good to me! If Luck and and his teammates can somehow conjure up some of the magic that Dalton and his cats spun last season, I think well all be smiling by this time next year.
Of courseno one should expect Luck to live up to Newton's performance because they are two very different quarterbacks. Luck is polished and has good mobility behind the line of scrimmage, but he is undeniably built in the traditional mold of superstar quarterbacks. We can reasonably expect to eventually see scads of passing yards and touchdown passes and excitement, but probably not much in the way of Newton's brand of EXCITEMENT. Newton is probably unique in his skill set, able to pass with the best of them and still bust out like a featured running back (he scampered for 706 yards on the ground in 2011). His rookie records are safe this year, and that is just fine, really.
Dalton, on the other hand, presents a much more reasonable target, passing as he did for 3398 yards and 20 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He also ran for 152 yards, which would be just fine for Luck's ground production, provided he can avoid also matching Dalton's four fumbles. Numbers like that would go a long way to making us all feel comfortable that Luck really will develop into the guy who can lead the Colts back to land of elite NFL teams, and such a performance would allow the team to concentrate on shoring up their other big holes.
Of course, there is one big Dalton number that Luck will have trouble attaining this season: 10 wins . But we can dream, can't we?
Adam Hughes was raised, and still lives, in rural Indiana. He has been a Colts fans since the team arrived in Indianapolis on a snowy morning in 1984. The Blue and White eventually replaced the Chicago Bears as his #1 team, and Super Bowl XLI was a dream come true.
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