Andrew Luck Recap: Game Six vs. Chargers

Kevork Djansezian

Every week, Stampede Blue's Josh Wilson will take an in-depth look at Andrew Luck's game from the previous weekend. Today we look at his performance in the sixth game against the San Diego Chargers.

This is late, I acknowledge that, but at least it's here! Our weekly Andrew Luck recap got pushed back a few days because of the Colts playing on Monday Night Football and then, for whatever reason, NFL Game Rewind not putting the game up until 24 hours later. So, this is a bit late, but it's up nonetheless.

Monday night was Andrew Luck's Monday Night Football debut. And Monday night was a purely terrible performance by the Colts. They were outplayed and outcoached in just about every way, and the result was an ugly 19-9 loss to the San Diego Chargers. One person you can't really blame for the loss, however, is Andrew Luck.

Pep Hamilton called his worst game this year. The Colts dropped five passes, two of which might have been touchdowns. The Colts didn't really place the game in Luck's hands until the game was on the line with just minutes left in the game, and that's not fair either.

What we learned from this game is that the Colts need to place more in Andrew Luck's hands. It's unreasonable to dumb to think that the Colts will just change their entire offense around, and really, they don't need to. They have plenty of passing formations that work. The problem is that they take a lot of it out of Luck's hands and leave it to others. And I can guarantee you this: those other players aren't beating the Broncos this Sunday. Andrew Luck, however, is able to. And he can, if given the chance. I'm not saying abandon the run. I'm saying put more in Andrew Luck's hands, and I'm sure they'll see he can handle it.

Take away the dropped passes and Luck's completion percentage was 72%. Or, add in the drops as "on target" passes and Luck was on target for 76.7% of his passes. That's great. What we saw in the loss to the Chargers was not that this team is bad or that this team is a lost cause. What we saw was that this team has the very flaws that we thought they had all along but had tried to forget about, and what we saw was the clearest example yet that the Colts' franchise quarterback needs a bigger role. Give him more to do and I guarantee he'll do it. Take the handcuffs off of him. And if this loss causes them to do that, this loss could end up being one of the best things that happens to the Colts this year.

Statistics:

General: 18/30 (60.0%), 202 yards (6.7 yards per attempt), 0 TD, 1 INT, 66.2 passer rating, 42.5 QBR, 1 sack, 4 rushes for 19 yards and 0 touchdowns (4.8 yards per carry)

Number of Drives: 9

Number of Plays: 48

Number of Passing Plays: 35 (72.9%)

Shotgun Snaps (pass plays): 16 (45.7% of pass plays)

Play Action Attempts: 9 (25.7% of pass plays) (includes a flea flicker play)

Drops: 5 (14.3% of pass plays)

Passes Charted by Field Position:

Number stands for the number of the player who caught the pass. X stands for an incomplete pass (number in parenthesis was intended receiver). Blue number stands for a touchdown. Red X stands for an interception. Green X stands for a drop. Red headings along upper and lefthand side indicate how the areas of the field are broken down.

Screen_shot_2013-10-16_at_2

* IMPORTANT NOTE: All of these statistics are not guaranteed to be 100% accurate whatsoever and some of them (number of plays pressured) are subjective. While I strive to be entirely accurate and correct, these numbers are prone to inerrancies occasionally. Either way, they will give you a very good idea of the point being made.

Notable Plays:

  • We're going to look at a play that I really didn't like - at all. On this certain play, Andrew Luck rolls to the left and doesn't have many options to throw to. Everybody knows that rolling a right-handed quarterback out to the left is almost never the smart thing to do, so the fact that this play was designed that way was a little puzzling. What was worse, though, was that the Colts called it twice in the same quarter, one of which was on a 3rd down play. I didn't like the play design and I didn't like calling it in that situation. Maybe it works and those two plays were just busted. I'm fully leaving the door open for that possibility. But to me, it's never a great idea to roll your right-handed quarterback out left to convert a third down with just one or two possible receiving options. Maybe it's an overreaction on my part, but I still don't like it.

Screen_shot_2013-10-17_at_2

Screen_shot_2013-10-17_at_2
Other Notes:

  • Coming into the game, the Colts were the NFL's second best offense on third down and Andrew Luck was the league's best quarterback on third down. In this game, the Colts were 2 for 10 on the down as a team and Luck failed to convert a single first down in the passing game, completing just 3 of 8 passes for 19 yards - with each completion being short of the first down. Like I've said before, though, it's hard to blame Luck for all of it, even the third down failures. In fact, I only blame Luck for a handful of them (2-3ish). Sometimes it was a drop. Sometimes it was the play design, as I mentioned earlier. Sometimes it was the line. And sometimes it was the receiver running the route too short (ahem, Coby Fleener).
  • Seriously, though, Fleener really needs to learn to run his routes to the first down marker. It doesn't seem like that hard of a concept, but for some people it is. It's something they teach receivers at all levels, and for a receiving tight end like Fleener he needs to do that. It means going just one or two steps further before making the cut, but it has the potential to make all the difference in a ballgame.
  • There were five drops on the game for the Colts. Reggie Wayne, Darrius Heyward-Bey, T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener, and Trent Richardson all dropped one - yeah, that's the overwhelming majority of the players that Luck even throws to. And they all had a drop on the night. There were two other throws that went over a receiver's head but that they got a hand on it. There's absolutely no way to blame the receiver on those, but I don't really think they helped Luck out much on the incompletions.
  • It's a rarity, but Andrew Luck actually wasn't too effective when he ran the ball. He ran the ball four times for 19 yards - a good average at 4.8 yards per carry. His runs were divided up into a 2 yard run, a 6 yard run, a 5 yard run and a 6 yard run. On one of them Luck did a great job at avoiding pressure and stepping up in the pocket before tucking and running up the middle. But on another one of them, with just 37 seconds left in the first half with the Colts driving with no timeouts, Luck took off running and did indeed get 6 yards. But he was unable to get out of bounds, and the next play they ran they snapped with just 8 seconds left. Normally in a situation like that, Luck is phenomenal at running the football and incredibly smart when he does. But on that play, it would have been much better to have thrown it, even if incomplete. The Colts got a field goal on the drive, but had Luck not been tackled in bounds, it may have been more. Nit picking, I know, but it was a very costly 6 yards.

What Others Are Saying (or said during the game):

ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden before the game:

"If I had one pick in the entire league to start my team with today, I'd take Andrew Luck."

More Gruden on Luck:

"The Colts are as lucky as a dog with fourteen bones in its bucket to have this kid."

Overall Game Grade: C

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