As I watched the Colts come back from dead and overtake the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday night in Indianapolis, I was impressed by Andrew Luck’s ability to keep his team motivated and lead them down the field over and over again. In this day and age, in a sports landscape filled with prima donnas, Andrew Luck has the makeup to be a true leader of men and he showed his ability as such in Saturday’s Wild Card matchup. However, I have also never heard a player walk away from a game with the type of kudos and hype that this player has surrounding his name after he almost cost his team a victory. He put his team in a 28 point hole and was fortunate to help lead them back.
After the game, his head coach Chuck Pagano said “There’s been some great ones…but he’s gonna go down as probably one of the best, if not the best, ever to play this game when everything is all said and done. We’re very, very fortunate to have No. 12 on our side.” The best to ever play the game!? After one playoff win over Alex Smith?! One playoff win in which Andrew Luck threw 3 interceptions and allowed his team to fall behind by 28 points in the second half!? Are we really ready to call him one of the best, if not the best ever?
Colts G.M. Ryan Grigson said “He’s always been a different animal in the fourth quarter, his whole life, and just even hearing the story from his uncle. He relishes those moments. It’s like Jordan when he’d take that last shot — he wants the ball. This guy, we’re so blessed, he wants the ball in those situations.” He’s like Michael Jordan? Who are Tom Brady and Peyton Manning like then, two players who have won Super Bowls and done it all in their careers? Last year people were talking about how Andrew Luck wasn’t even the best QB drafted in his class (anyone remember RG3). He’s still done less than Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick have in their comparable playing careers. However, it’s always fashionable to break out the Michael Jordan comparisons after a player wins one playoff game.
Let’s look at the numbers from Luck’s second season. His 87.0 QB rating was good for 20th best in the league, behind the likes of Andy Dalton, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Josh McNown and the before mentioned Alex Smith. His 23 TD passes on the season were less than both Carson Palmer and Ryan Tannehill. He finished 17th in Yards/Game, behind Joe Flacco, Robert Griffin and many others who would never be mentioned in the same breathe as Michael Jordan or the words “best ever.” He’s 1-1 in his postseason career with 4 TDs and 4 INTs, which to the naked eye reflects mediocrity instead of the Hall of Fame.
If Andrew Luck doesn’t get one of the luckiest bounces in the history of football, he would be watching the Divisional Playoffs on the couch this weekend and the experts would be talking about his 0-2 postseason record and 3 INTs against the Chiefs. We’d be hyping up Alex Smith and Andy Reid and the Colts would be an afterthought. We’d be saying that Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick are the future of the QB position in the NFL. The Colts brass might be wondering what things would be like if they had Peyton Manning in uniform. However, the ball bounced the right way, Luck made a great play to leap into the end zone and the comeback continued. Luck took advantage of his good fortune but does that make him the greatest QB ever?
I think Andrew Luck could end up being great. I expect him to win in a serious manner in the NFL during what should be a long career. Almost any team would want him to lead their franchise into the future and the Colts still made the right move letting Peyton go, even if they are a bit weaker in the immediate future. As a Jet fan, I would trade Geno Smith for Andrew Luck in a heartbeat. With all that said, everyone needs to let him create his own legacy. He does not need to be compared to every great QB to ever strap on a helmet, nor to possibly the greatest athlete ever in Michael Jordan. His numbers have been solid but not special, his potential is excellent and he possesses a lot of the intangibles that lead us to believe he’ll be a star. Enjoy watching him play this weekend (I believe he’ll beat Tom Brady), but keep the expectations to a reasonable level. He can’t win 6 championships in less than 2 full seasons and if the G.M. is expecting legendary player, Andrew Luck will most certainly disappoint even with an All-Pro career.