CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 09: Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts reacts after throwing his first touchdown pass against the Chicago Bears on September 9, 2012 during their 2012 NFL season opener at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Bears defeated the Indianapolis Colts 41-21. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Yeah, a 20 point loss to the Bears sucks. However, the beating Chicago in Chicago wasn't going to be easy, and it's not like the Bears have a defense as bad as, say, the Saints. I didn't think the Colts had a chance to win Sunday's regular season opener, but they did play about as well as I expected.
The media telescope for the week will zoom in and target Andrew Luck because he played like a rookie while Robert Griffin III did not. Compounding things was the triumphant return of Peyton Manning with a brilliant performance in Denver against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fair or unfair, Luck is replacing Manning, and Luck was supposed to be "more polished" as a rookie than RG3. Thus, the scrutiny.
We can get crabby and whine about how the four turnovers were the result of terrible offensive line play, drops by receivers, and plain rookie jitters. Or, we can step back and see this for what it is: The rookie debut for a rookie QB placed in a tough situation.
Overall, it was better than what could have been realistically expected.
Consider this: Prior to Sunday, only two rookie QBs in NFL history had thrown for over 300 yards in their debuts. Those people were (you guessed it!) Peyton Manning in 1998 and Cam Newton last year. Yesterday, RG3 and Luck both eclipsed 300 yards in their first regular season games as professional, NFL players.
Another interesting stat to take in:
Manning's rookie opener was at home against a then-division rival, the Dolphins with Dan Marino. He went 21-37 for 302 yards, 1 TD, and 3 INTs.
Luck's opener, which was on the road against a Bears team that looks Super Bowl caliber, was 23-45, 309 yards, 1 TD, and 3 INTs.
Kind of creepy how similar those stat lines are, isn't it?
Unlike 1998, fans in Indianapolis aren't going to tolerate a 3-13 season with a rookie QB. That's also not the expectation of Jim Irsay, who has said he expects this team to compete for a playoff spot. Trades like the one for Vontae Davis, or all other moves this offseason to shake-up the roster, were not done in anticipation of a 3-13 year. Ryan Grigson was ordered to make this team playoff competitive in year one. I'm certain of that.
However, after watching Sunday's performance against the Bears, Luck is the least of Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano's problems. No. 12 showed poise, resilience, and a cold-focused resolve in several pressure situations, such as the drive that produced the 18-yard Donald Brown touchdown.
Drives like that make me feel good. Drives like that tell you Luck is a special player.