Chuck Pagano to Andrew Luck: Stop playing like a linebacker

Blessed with speed and athleticism to compare with Cam Newton, Andrew Luck has got to start acting like he’s Tom Brady, rather than Luke Kuechly.

Luck has been known to run over a defender or two in his day as he scrambles for extra yards. Rather than sliding, he oftentimes goes headfirst, much to the chagrin of Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano.

Last year, Luck’s inability to think like a quarterback (rather than his normal linebacker’s mentality) when running got him injured on more than one occasion. As a result, he missed nine games, suffering a lacerated kidney and some cracked ribs.

Not surprisingly Pagano wants to see a change in thinking this year from his talented franchise quarterback. He said as much in an appearance with NFL Network Wednesday, stressing health and sound decision-making as top priorities.

“Get him healthy, keep him healthy, keep him protected, keep him upright,” Pagano said (h/t Pro Football Talk) “He plays the position like a linebacker, with a linebacker’s mentality. He can’t do that all the time. We love how he can extend plays, but he’s got to be smart and know it’s OK to slide. You don’t have to take some of those hits.”

Before last season’s turn for the worst, Luck was showing the kind of promise we don’t see very often in the NFL.

In his 2014 campaign the Stanford product passed for 4,761 yards with 40 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. The turnovers were a bit too frequent but he was getting the ball to his playmakers on a regular basis and converting touchdown opportunities.

The Colts are loaded at the receiver position but must do some work on the offensive line to protect Luck in the pocket. But the biggest thing that must happen in order for this young passer to have a long and successful career that mirrors his potential is that he must start to protect himself in the open field.