Colts’ Andrew Luck ‘playing at a high level’
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – What is shaping up as the best of Andrew Luck’s five seasons has been the byproduct of adapting on a weekly basis and paying attention to the nuts and bolts of the position.
The face of the Indianapolis Colts is on pace for 4,740 yards, which would trail only the team-record 4,761 he tacked up in 2014, despite adapting to being without several key components in the passing game at various times: wideouts Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett, and tight end Dwayne Allen.
He’s completing a career-best 64.9 percent of his passes despite operating behind five different starting offensive line combinations in seven games and being sacked a league-high 25 times. And let’s not forget Colts receivers have dropped a league-high 16 passes, including four in Sunday’s win at Tennessee.
Four months after becoming the highest-paid player in NFL history – nearly $140 million through 2021 – he’s on pace for 32 touchdowns and, more telling, 9 interceptions, which would match his career low.
“He’s playing at a high level,’’ Rob Chudzinski said.
Luck is coming off one of the most efficient games of his 62-game career: 27-of-39 (remember, four drops), 353 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions, a 123.1 rating in Sunday’s 34-26 win against the Titans. It was his 17th career game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime, and the third this season.
Adjusting? Chudzinski is Luck’s third coordinator in five seasons.
“It is a new offense for him, new terminology, new system, new way that we are reading things and doing things,’’ Chudzinski said. “He is getting more and more comfortable in that area. He is making good decisions. He is making quick decisions.’’
Along with adjusting to Chudzinski’s offense, Luck has had to adapt to new position coach Brian Schottenheimer. The focus since April has been on honing Luck’s fundamentals, being on point with his footwork in the pocket, understanding when to extend a play with his legs and realizing when the defense wins on a particular play.
“Not turning the ball over, taking care of the football and making good decisions,’’ Chudzinski said. “I think you see a lot of improvement. I’ve seen a lot of improvement in some of his fundamentals.
“Brian has done a great job in working with him and really harping and obviously Andrew has put the time in with balance at the top of his drops. His feet are better and quicker. Those things I think are leading to more accuracy or better accuracy. He is healthier and he is practicing and those type of things make a difference, too.’’
Luck frequently has chided himself for suffering “bonehead’’ mistakes during a game. Those have been noticeably absent through seven games.
“I think, one, mistakes happen and I think something that is always key is that you have to fix the specific mistakes,’’ Luck said. “If I am not fixing a specific mistake, then there is a problem.
“I’d like to think that I have gotten better every year and especially this season every game at fixing some of those mistakes.’’
Luck added Schottenheimer has had “a very positive effect and a big effect. By no means are we playing perfect as an offense. I’m not playing perfect.
“I would like to think I am getting better. There is still a long, long way to go. That is why you practice. That is why you play.’’
Three times this season the Luck-led offense hasn’t turned the ball over. It’s worth noting the Colts are 16-3 with Luck when they don’t suffer a turnover.
Luck has completed at least 64 percent of his passes in each of the last five games. That’s a career first for a QB who occasionally uncorked erratic passes.
The first two months of the season have gone a long way toward erasing the painful memory of ’15, when Luck missed nine starts with shoulder, rib and kidney injuries and won just two of his seven starts.
Luck’s rising star hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Listen to Kansas City coach Andy Reid. The last time he and Luck stood on opposite sidelines, Luck engineered the second-largest comeback in playoff history. It was a 2013 wild-card game and after trailing 38-10 in the third quarter, the Colts followed Luck’s lead to a 45-44 victory. Over the final 28 minutes, Luck completed 17-of-23 passes for 314 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
“The important thing is that he keeps firing, right?’’ Reid said. “He hasn’t pulled back or hesitated or gotten shy. He keeps firing and then he learns from his mistakes and if he’s willing to do that and you’re smart and you have talent, then normally things are going to work out (and) you’re going to be a pretty good quarterback.
“He understands that. His dad was a good player. He’s a good player. He worked through all that stuff that every quarterback kind of goes through and he’s playing good football right now.’’