Entering the season, there were concerns that Andrew Luck’s botched shoulder rehab would have long-term repercussions on his ability as an NFL quarterback.
So, far, nothing has assuaged those concerns.
Stats paint concerning picture for Andrew Luck
Through three games, Luck has averaged a career low 5.3 yards per attempt, well below his career rate of 7.1. His 7.8 yards per completion pale in comparison to his career average of 11.9 and his overall production has dropped from 270.4 yards passing per game to 220.7.
On passes that travel at least 20 yards in the air, Luck ranks 26th in the NFL according to ESPN, a category he led the league in from 2012-14.
Granted, it’s a small sample size. But then there was the unexpected occurrence at the end of Sunday’s Colts’ loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Luck benched for big throw
With Indianapolis trailing 20-16 with time for one more play from its own 46-yard line, Luck got the hook. Head coach Frank Reich put in backup Jacoby Brissett, who launched a failed Hail Mary attempt that went through the end zone.
After the game, Reich confirmed that Brissett’s superior arm strength was the reason for the call.
“He can throw it a mile,” Reich said of Brissett. “We knew Jacoby had the arm to throw it into the end zone.”
He confirmed that Luck would have been in the game had the Colts been 10-15 yards closer.
Luck insists his arm is physically fine
But if you listen to Luck, everything is fine. Luck told reporters on Wednesday that he feels that he is not limited by his arm.
“I know I am at a level where I can make all the throws and I feel confident that I am going out there with my full arsenal, if that makes sense,” Luck said, via ESPN. “I don’t think anything is physically holding me back.”
Luck, a master of droning NFL quarterback cliches, preceded his “full arsenal” statement with talk about how there’s always room to improve.
“You know I think on one coin I think I will always be a work in progress and I would like to think that every day I can become a better thrower,” Luck said. “And whether that means more zip on a certain throw, whether than means putting it an inch to the left or an inch to the right or on his right shoulder or in the appropriate spot.”
While that’s the Luck we all have come to know, his statement about being able to make all the throws belies reality.
Luck was complete package prior to shoulder injury
While he was never Patrick Mahomes in terms of arm strength, Luck was the complete package of an NFL quarterback coming out of Stanford. Scouts drooled at his skillset that couldn’t have been put together better on a drawing board. That skillset included a big arm — one that would not have been substituted for on a make-or-break Hail Mary before his shoulder injury.
Prior to Luck’s injury and return, T.Y. Hilton was one of the NFL’s top downfield threats, averaging 15.6 yards per reception. He’s producing paltry check-down numbers this season, tallying 17 catches for 179 yards, good for 10.5 yards per catch. Hilton surely misses the old Luck.
Colts, Luck made missteps with shoulder injury
He admitted prior to the season that a 2016 snowboarding injury caused further damage to his throwing shoulder.
It’s far too early to say that Luck will never be the same quarterback considered a once-in-a-generation prospect when he entered the league in 2012. But so far, signs point in that direction.
Until we get a glimpse of the Luck that showed that promise as a Pro Bowler and playoff quarterback in his first three seasons, criticism that he and the Colts mismanaged his career and his injuries won’t go away.
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