When Andrew Luck entered the NFL in 2012, he was the most heralded quarterback to enter the league since the quarterback he would go on to succeed in Indianapolis. His rookie season saw him set the NFL record for rookie passing yards amongst others. As Luck would progress through his 2nd and 3rd seasons, his statistics would only improve. He would raise his quarterback rating and completion percentage each season. But now, after advancing his team to the AFC Championship game a season ago, the expectations for Luck are going even higher this season. So why should we expect an MVP season from Luck? Here’s a few reasons:
In the NFL, quarterbacks progress at a yearly rate and start to hit their stride around their 4th and 5th seasons. In Luck’s rookie campaign, he lead an unprecedented seven game-winning drives. In his 2nd season, he lead the Colts to their first post-season win since his arrival while beating 4 playoff teams during the regular season. Last season, the Colts made the playoff once again under Luck’s helm, winning 2 playoff games in the process. Andrew Luck will be entering his 4th year and given the consistency of his progress since his arrival in the NFL, one should expect nothing but improvement this year in all aspects of his game. But the experience he’s gaining isn’t just statistically related. Each season Luck has progressed his team a step further in the post-season as well. Playoff experience isn’t something that will show up in statistics or measures but it cannot be discounted. These experiences help a quarterback in battling adversity in tough situations. Given Luck’s experience to this point in them, it should only benefit him moving forward.
This past offseason, the Colts acquired longtime Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson. Since his arrival in Indianapolis, the 13 year wideout has had nothing but praise for Andrew Luck, going as far to call him the best quarterback in the game. While Johnson isn’t quite the same receiver he was earlier in his career, he gives the Colts a steady option at the outside receiver position that has been lacking since the beginning of Luck’s career. The Colts also drafted speedy wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, who has been turning heads at OTA’s, to add to a crowded crop of receivers. Add these new pieces along with an intriguing prospect in Duron Carter and upstart second year wideout Donte Moncrief and you have one of the deepest wide receiver cores in the entire NFL for Andrew Luck to throw to. Of course, this is all without mentioning T.Y. Hilton, who has quickly become of the league’s premier receivers. But it isn’t just the receiver position that has gotten a boost.
An Improved Running Game
Among the Colts offseason acquisitions, Frank Gore appears to be one the least talked about. A workhorse in San Francisco, Gore faced 8 man fronts a whopping 76.2% of the time last season, with the next closest player being DeMarco Murray at 58.3% of the time. Despite facing these fronts, Gore continued to produce without missing any games in the past four seasons. In Indianapolis, one should realistically expect for Gore to see less 8 man box fronts, giving the bruising running back more room to work and take pressure off of Andrew Luck. Given Gore’s age as well, it will greatly benefit him to see less stacked boxes over the long haul of a grueling NFL season. One of the major flaws with the Colts offense last year was an inconsistent rushing attack (see Trent Richardson). Towards the end of the season however, the Colts running game started to improve in part because of Boom Herron getting majority of the snaps. While Herron is serviceable, his skillset doesn’t match that of Gore’s. Gore’s underrated ability to protect the quarterback in passing situations should benefit Andrew Luck greatly.
If all these are able to mix all together correctly, the finished result could be one special season for Andrew Luck and the Colts.