Ever since the Indianapolis Colts finished the 2011 season with the first overall pick in the NFL draft, all of the talk has centered around Andrew Luck. And reasonably so, as he is the best quarterback prospect since John Elway and is already making jaws drop in awe of his play.
But hidden by the drafting of Luck were the moves that general manager Ryan Grigson made to solidify the quarterback position. Grigson brought in two other players who realistically could have started on last year's Colts team. I'll be honest with you: I'm not used to the Colts having a backup quarterback that can throw the ball. Heck, last year they didn't even have a starter that could. Now they have three guys who can throw the football - and throw it well.
Drew Stanton underwent a whirlwind of an offseason, eventually ending up in Indianapolis. He left the Detroit Lions as a free agent to sign with the New York Jets, who then traded for Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos (who was himself traded because the Broncos signed Peyton Manning, who had been released from the Colts). Because the Jets traded for Tebow, they no longer needed Stanton. So, on March 23rd, they traded him to the Colts for a sixth round pick in this 2012 NFL Draft (the Colts also got a seventh round pick). The move came with essentially no risk, and it seems to have been a very good one.
Chandler "Mr. Irrelevant" Harnish was selected by the Colts with the 253rd pick of April's draft, making him the final player taken (thus the title of Mr. Irrelevant). I wasn't too sure of the move at the time, but as the offseason progressed I became much happier with the pick. Harnish is a good young talent who will be the Colts third quarterback this year.
The quarterback show was on display week one of preseason against the St. Louis Rams. While Luck's incredible performance got all the headlines, Stanton and Harnish were both very good as well. Stanton was 8/11 (72.7%) for 83 yards for a rating of 94.1. Harnish, meanwhile, posted a perfect passer rating, completing all three of the passes he attempted for 52 yards and a perfect touchdown pass.
The next week, in Pittsburgh, the stats did not look as impressive, Luck's included. But once again, Luck stole the show with a spectacular game (just for totally different reasons). Stanton completed only 4 of his 13 passes for 69 yards, but he threw a touchdown pass and was not intercepted for the second straight week. Harnish was, however, and he completed only 3 of his 9 passes for 45 yards and the aforementioned interception.
Overall, however, the backups have looked good. Throw aside the numbers for a second and look at the play itself. Even Andrew Luck threw two interceptions on Sunday. But if you go back and look at the tape, you would see that one of those interceptions was totally not his fault by any means. Numbers can be deceiving at times. And so while I mentioned the numbers, I want to say that I am really impressed with both of the backup quarterbacks. Stanton is poised and collected and has a good arm, while Harnish is exciting and also has a very good arm. And neither one will be starting this year. It will be Andrew Luck.
But even the iron man, Peyton Manning, could not stay healthy forever. Injuries happen in the NFL. And if, disastrously, the worst thing possible happens to the Colts and Andrew Luck gets hurt, at least the Colts have a backup quarterback that can come in and run things effectively. In fact, they have two. And that is two more than they had last year.