Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will make his first appearance in a regular season game this coming Sunday since all the way back in the 2016 season.
For Luck, it’s been a long recovery from a devastating shoulder injury that had threatened to derail his career.
The known quantity of a Pro Bowl-level Andrew Luck has been replaced with the unknown. Is Luck ever going to be back to pre-injury form? Will he stand strong in the pocket? Will he trust his offensive line?
We’ll get answers to those questions this weekend against the Cincinnati Bengals. But at least one AFC coach doesn’t have faith in Luck returning to the player we saw before.
“Have you watched the guy play? Go back and watch him pre-injury…like 2015. Now watch him today,” the unnamed coach said, via Matt Miller of Bleacher Report. “His throwing motion is completely changed, and he has no deep velocity. His entire game has changed. I bet he’ll be Checkdown Charlie. Like Alex Smith but afraid to get hit.”
Known for his strong arm and ability to throw down the field, being compared to a player of Alex Smith’s ilk is damning. This isn’t to say Smith hasn’t been a top-end quarterback. Instead, his game is vastly different than what we’ve seen from Luck. We’re not even sure Luck would be successful going checkdown more often than not.
The other issue here is the injury concern. If Luck is afraid to get hit, it’s going to lead to some pretty big issues in the Colts’ backfield moving forward. Quarterbacks must stand strong in the face of pressure in today’s NFL. Short of that happening, the issues we’ve seen from the likes of Robert Griffin III in the past will haunt Luck.
The good news? Luck appears to be 100 percent and looked pretty darn good during the preseason. Whether that translates over to a 16-game regular season remains to be seen.