ANDERSON, Ind. – Owner Jim Irsay needed only a few minutes Tuesday evening to capsulize an Indianapolis Colts team that a year ago fell well short of hyped expectations and the latest edition which is entering 2016 with muted anticipation.
He actually needed only two words. Andrew. Luck.
Never mind high-priced free agents who failed to excel. Never mind coach Chuck Pagano’s lame-duck status or his reported rift with general manager Ryan Grigson.
The Colts failed to reach the playoffs for the first time in the Luck era, since 2011, because Luck missed nine games with an assortment of injuries.
“It was more a year where our franchise quarterback got hurt,’’ Irsay said. “If that didn’t happen, who knows what kind of year we would have had?’’
What a difference an offseason makes.
“Andrew’s feeling really healthy,’’ Irsay said. “He feels great and that makes me feel great.
“Yeah, we’re under the radar, but we have Andrew Luck.’’
And the Colts have him locked up through 2021 after Irsay doled out a five-year, $123 million extension in late June that made Luck the NFL’s highest-paid player.
“Andrew understands what those expectations mean,’’ Irsay said. “I think we all know every year Andrew’s in the discussions about being (an) MVP-of-the-league-type guy.
“Look, it’s a quarterback-driven league, there’s no question about it. We want to do everything we can to get him in the position to play great and be in that three or four guys in the league that’s talked about for the MVP. That’s the way it should be every year.
“He’s up to the challenge. He knows the pressures that come with being Andrew Luck. He’s a special young man. He’s excited. He’s in his prime.’’