Despite the fact that Andrew Luck has taken some brutal blows outside the pocket during his first four NFL seasons, his Indianapolis Colts coaches don’t want him to change the way he approaches the game.
“We’re not going to change the way Andrew plays,’’ quarterback coach Brian Schottenheimer said, via Mike Chappell of CBS4 in Indianapolis. “Andrew’s going to play the game.”
Colts fans might not want to hear this, given the fact that he missed half the season last year with injuries to his ribs, throwing shoulder and kidney. Luck is known for escaping pressure, extending plays and taking hits while making plays. That’s an aspect of his game that his coaches don’t want to coach out of him, per se.
“It’s a catch-22,” said offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. “He extends plays. In his first few years in the league you look at tape, that’s where some of the biggest plays came, off of him extending plays and . . . plays that were out of rhythm, not necessarily by design. You have to temper that with him knowing when to say when.’’
The best thing the Colts can do to keep Luck healthy while still allowing him to make the most of his talents and mentality is simply protect him better up front. Indianapolis’ offensive line has been downright abysmal since Luck joined the team in 2012, and it hasn’t gotten any better in four years.
However, general manager Ryan Grigson may have finally realized the importance of protecting the team’s most valuable asset. He spent the team’s first-round pick (No. 18 overall) on Alabama center Ryan Kelly, who should be a huge improvement as Luck’s first line of defense in the middle. He also drafted a couple of offensive linemen who’ll have a chance to compete for starting spots.
If Luck can stay healthy all year, the Colts have a shot to go deep into the playoffs. He improved in each of his first three years, finishing the 2014 season with 4,761 yards and 40 touchdowns. More than that, Luck has proven to be one of the NFL’s top come-from-behind quarterbacks in his early career.
No wonder the Colts don’t want him to change.
That said, Luck must also be better about knowing when to take risks and when to simply hit the ground on his own volition. He knows this. His head coach knows this. Now it’s up to the Colts to protect him better and for him to protect himself. Especially considering the Colts are reportedly about to make him the richest man in the NFL.