Keep Hasselbeck over Luck? Colts’ Pagano: Ludicrous

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Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts, right talks with Matt Hasselbeck #8 before a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on October 8, 2015 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (November 30, 2015) – Not that there ever was a doubt, but the Indianapolis Colts remain Andrew Luck’s team.

Period.

While a small segment of the national media and the world of Twitter have floated the notion the Colts should ride backup Matt Hasselbeck even when Luck is ready to return from a lacerated kidney and torn abdominal muscle, Coach Chuck Pagano shut down the discussion Monday.

He initially did so with a stern stare.

“That’s ludicrous,’’ Pagano said, finally breaking the brief silence. “You’ve got to stay off Twitter and I don’t want to disrespect anybody. Quit listening. Get your blinders and your earmuffs on.’’

So, there’s absolutely, positively no chance Hasselbeck, 40 and 4-0 while stepping in for Luck, remains the starter once Luck gains medical clearance to return? The initial prognosis had Luck missing up to six weeks, which would target his return for the December 27 visit to Miami.

“Andrew’s our starting quarterback,’’ Pagano said, “and when he’s healthy and when he’s 100 percent healthy and the doctors and our trainers say he’s ready to roll, then he’s going to be under center.’’

Luck missed two games early in the season with an injury to his right shoulder, and has been sidelined the past two games after suffering kidney and abdominal injuries November 8 against the Denver Broncos.

In seven games, the Luck-led Colts are 2-5. He has 15 touchdowns, but his 12 interceptions are tied for third-most in the league. His 74.9 passer rating is No. 29, and ahead of St. Louis’ Nick Foles (72.0) and Manning (67.6).

Hasselbeck, meanwhile, has kept the Colts’ playoff aspirations alive. With Sunday’s 25-12 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he joined Brett Favre as the only 40-or-older quarterback to win four consecutive games in one season since the 1970 merger.

In his four starts, Hasselbeck has a 94.4 rating – that would be tied for No. 12 in the league if he qualified – on the strength of completing 64.7 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. He has avoided throwing an interception in three of his four starts.

Pagano was asked if he ever forgets Hasselbeck is 40. He’s the NFL’s oldest non-kicker.

“He doesn’t look like it, right?’’ Pagano said.

He mentioned a quote attributed to baseball’s ageless Satchel Paige: “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were.’’

That, Pagano said, is Hasselbeck’s approach.

“It’s awesome,’’ he said. “At his age, being 4-0 as a backup quarterback, it’s great for us. We’re fortunate. I just hope he keeps it up.’’

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