Reasons Why Andrew Luck is a Top-Tier Quarterback

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Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is a top tier quarterback, and it’s time to acknowledge it. Since his rookie season, the former Stanford Cardinal has broken multiple records and proved himself worthy of being Peyton Manning’s successor. After a 2-14 record in 2011, due to Manning’s absence from neck surgery, the Colts drafted Luck number one overall in 2012. In his rookie season alone, Luck broke multiple records.

Reasons Why Andrew Luck is a Top-Tier Quarterback

Luck threw 4,374 yards in 2012 and broke Cam Newton’s record for most passing yards in a rookie season; Newton broke the record himself in 2011 when he surpassed the former Tennessee Volunteer with 4,051 passing yards. Luck’s performance is significant for two reasons. One, he had 730 drop backs, the third most in a single season in NFL history. Two, the now six-year veteran led the Colts on a NFL record-tying seven game-winning drives. Luck also threw the most passing yards in a game for a rookie with 433 yards against the Miami Dolphins. Moreover, Luck performed much better than Peyton Manning in his rookie season. Manning led the 1998 Colts to a 3-13 record; Luck pushed Indy to 11-5 with a playoff berth. Although he had 23 total turnovers, the three-time Pro Bowler only threw 18 interceptions during his rookie campaign. Manning threw 28 in his first season.

Additionally, Luck has shown productivity with and without and a protective offensive line. In 2014, Luck threw career highs in touchdowns (40) and passing yards (4,761). During the 2014 season, the Colts’ offensive line only allowed 29 sacks, which was eighth best in the NFL. The Colts advanced to the AFC Championship in 2014. However, in 2016, Indy’s O-line was the fifth-worst in sacks, allowing 44 total, and the second-worst in quarterback hits with 128 total.

According to Pro Football Focus, however, Luck had the fourth best quarterback grade in 2016 behind one of the lowest pass-blocking offensive lines since 2006, and he has the fifth-highest touchdown rate when under pressure in the PFF Era at 3.5 percent. Despite the offensive line, Luck was still productive. He threw 31 touchdowns, second most in his career, and over 4,200 yards. He produced numbers similar to his career bests in 2014. In fact, he threw three less interceptions with just 13.

Luck performs, simple and plain. He carried the Colts to three straight 11-5 records from his 2012 rookie season through his career best in 2014, and Indy advanced to the next round of the playoffs each of those years. Hopefully for Luck, the Colts supporting cast can improve. From 2012 to 2014, the Colts’ defense improved in total yards allowed per game, starting from 26th in 2012 to 11th in 2014. However, they allowed the seventh-worse in 2015 and the third-worst last season.

Unlike other rookie quarterbacks who have also enjoyed early success, Luck has not had a top-tier supporting cast. Luck’s fellow 2012 draftee Russell Wilson walked into a fourth-ranked defense in yards per game, and two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger had the NFL’s best yardage defense behind him in his rookie season. In terms of a rushing attack, the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers rushed for the fifth most yards, and the 2013 Seattle Seahawks had the fourth best rushing offense. Both years referenced were the respective quarterbacks’ second seasons, where both won championships.

The Colts did not have a 1,000-yard rusher until last year with Frank Gore. If the Colts can provide Luck with a supporting class remotely similar to what Wilson and Roethlisberger have enjoyed in the past, it’s hard to imagine the Colts won’t win a Super Bowl soon. However, he clearly has done enough to solidify himself as a top-tier quarterback.