Is This the Real Andrew Luck?

Andrew Luck has underperformed through the NFL season’s first eight games. Courtesy of Wikimedia.

Originally published in The Fordham Ram on November 10, 2015.

So I wrote this article a week ago. And on Sunday, the day posts are due, it came out that Andrew Luck has been playing with broken ribs. That pretty much took away all the points I was making about his performance up to this point in the season. But then on Monday night, Luck played like a pile of hot garbage, regardless of injuries. So, without further ado, let’s look at Andrew Luck’s season.

Let us start by looking at the stat lines for each of the AFC South starting quarterbacks this year:

  • 151-271 (55.7%), 1812 yards, 15 TDs, 8 INTs, 82.5 QB Rating, 19 sacks
  • 103-162 (63.6%), 1239 yards, 9 TDs, 5 INTs, 92.6 QB Rating, 19 sacks
  • 141-257 (54.9%), 1629 yards, 13 TDs, 12 INTs, 71.6 QB Rating, 14 sacks
  • 129-215 (60%), 1581 yards, 13 TDs, 3 INTs, 97.1 QB Rating, 13 sacks

First: the AFC South quarterbacking situation is grotesque. Second: which one of those is Luck? I’ll give you a minute… Did you pick number 4? I would have. However, that is actually Brian Hoyer. So which one is Luck? Surprisingly, unless you are a Colts fan or Andrew Luck fantasy owner, he’s the unquestionably worst one, QB 3. When your quarterback looks less like a top 5 quarterback and is the worst among a group of bad quarterbacks, you are in trouble.

And this begs the question: who is the real Andrew Luck? Is it the one who last year threw for 40 TDs and just 16 INTs, all the while completing 61.7% of his passes? Or is it this basically league-average quarterback that we were seeing this year?

One of the main arguments Luck supporters make is that his inadequate offensive line barely lets him stay on his feet to make throws. And with the broken ribs news, that argument has some merit. However, his 14 sacks do not even place him among the top 10 most sacked quarterbacks in the NFL. Philip Rivers, who leads the league in passing yards, has been sacked more. As has Tom Brady, who has been setting the world on fire with his 20-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio despite an offensive line that is constantly losing pieces to injury. Russell Wilson leads the league in times sacked with 31, and still leads Luck in all statistical categories except for touchdowns. In other words, it is not much of an excuse. In fact, as head coach Chuck Pagano said, he should be used to it by now, his line has always been terrible.

So here is the thing: players have bad seasons. It is just that Luck’s has been, well, really bad. Only two QBs have had a worse rating over the course of the entire 2014 than Luck’s this year: Blake Bortles and Josh McCown. That is less than adequate. Extrapolated over the rest of the season, Luck’s numbers are 3801 yards, 30 TDs and 28 INTs. On a positive note, that has never happened before. On a negative note, that is bad. However, if he had played the two games he missed, obviously his numbers would improve.

So this looks bad. It looks only slightly better than if Keanu Reeves had actually tried to play quarterback in the NFL. But players play badly. Players get hurt. Players have bad offensive lines. And honestly, this looks like it could be a confluence of the three. But all of a sudden, Luck’s status as a top five quarterback is entirely up in the air. However, I believe he still can be. In fact, it will be even more impressive. This could end the season that makes Luck look even more superhuman if he overcomes it, or the one that brings him crashing back to Earth forever.

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