(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
If Bill Polian and his 'toxic' son Chris are still running the show in Indianapolis at season's end (should the team go 0-16, Jim Irsay will be the laughing stock of the NFL is he doesn't fire both men, along with the coaching staff), it's pretty much a given they will draft the quarterback from Stanford with the first overall pick. Really, no matter who controls the front office at the beginning of the 2012 league year, the Colts and Luck look like the likely match. With Miami winning its third game in a row this past Sunday, and with the Browns scratching out another win, only Carolina and St. Louis (both a 2-8) are within 'striking distance' of 0-10 Indy for the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes.
St. Louis and Carolina drafted quarterbacks No. 1 overall in the 2010 and 2011 drafts, respectively. This means that even if, by some miracle, they do get the No. 1 pick, they won't be drafting Luck. Thus, Luck and Indy as an arranged marriage that grows more and more likely to get consummated in April with each passing week.
I'm sure some of you watch Stanford v. Cal this weekend on ESPN. I did as well. It's the fourth Andrew Luck game I've seen this year, and just like the previous three, I came away with the same feeling: Luck is a stud, and he could play in the NFL right now.
For starters, I apologize in advance for using a very overused and tired term, but Andrew Luck is very composed (aka, POISED) when running an offense. He commands attention and, most importantly, his teammates listen. He also seems adept at reading defenses, which is impressive for a kid in college. What he seems to struggle with a bit is increased team speed on defense. His performance against Oregon two weeks ago (256 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs) showed that, against NFL-like speed on defense, he will struggle.
Don't freak out. This is normal.
Adjustment to speed is what all rookies go through. Personally, I was impressed with how Luck handled himself in that game. I mean, the Stanford defense surrendered 53-friggin-points, and were exposed for being the weakness in the team that they are.
This past weekend, against Cal, Luck threw a pick early and his team was down once again, just like against Oregon. But, calmly running the offense, Luck guided the Cardinals to two scores, and they took the lead before halftime 14-13. When Stanford took that lead, I got the sense the game was over. And for intent and purposes, it was. Stanford scored two more TDs in the second half, both on Luck TD passes, to go up 28-13. Cal got a few scores late, but it wasn't enough. Stanford won 31-28, and with Oklahoma State losing, Stanford is now back in the BCS discussion.
As the weeks go on, and we get closer to the end of this nightmare of a season, the reality that we fans must begin to accept is that Andrew Luck will become the face of this franchise and Peyton Manning's days in a Colts uniform are over. No amount of rationalizing or arguing is going to change that. If the Colts take Luck, Manning is finished in Indianapolis.
That is reality. Thinking the two can co-exist on the same roster is utter silliness. I understand the desire for fans to want that, Hell, I'd love it to! I'd also like $5 billion dollars in cash delivered to my mailbox in the next fifteen minutes and my own personal security detail of sharks with lasers on their heads.
However, it ain't happening, just as Manning and Luck playing together for the Colts isn't happening. Going forward, we have to learn to accept this.