Andrew Luck Recap: Game Four vs. Jaguars

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

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 fourth game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

He didn't start off well. But Andrew Luck finished brilliantly.

In the first half, he completed just 14 of 27 passes (51.9%) for 140 yards (5.19 yards per attempt), no touchdowns, and a pick for a 51.5 passer rating. In the second half, however, he completed 8 of 9 passes (88.9%) for 120 yards (13.3 yards per attempt), 2 scores, and no picks for a perfect 158.3 rating.

What a difference a half makes.

In the first half, Luck was about as bad as I have ever seen him. He misfired on several throws (I counted at least 3 clear ones) and he had miscommunication with his receivers on several others (I counted at least 4 different times). He threw a pick and had others that probably should have been picked but that weren't. He just didn't look sharp. All that changed in the second half, obviously, and he looked just like Andrew Luck - and the super good Luck, at that.

The most positive thing about this game, however, was that the Colts didn't need Luck to play great. At halftime, after a bad half from their quarterback, the Colts led 20-3 on the road against a division rival. That's impressive. Of course, when Luck found his rhythm he just poured on even more points and the Colts wound up winning by a score of 37-3, but the Colts didn't need Luck to pull out a win this time. Instead, the defense was great. That won't be the case every game, but in the past two weeks, it has been.

The Colts are beginning to look like a legitimate team, going from a tough game on the west coast to a tough game on the east coast and winning by a combined score of 64-10. That's impressive. Even more impressive - Andrew Luck hasn't had to be the one carrying the team to the wins.

This is a great place for the Colts to be in. They have a quarterback that they have the utmost confidence in to lead them to a win, but right now they aren't even placing him in a situation for a game winning drive or a fourth quarter comeback. The best thing about it, however? They know they have a quarterback who has proven he can win those types of games too. Things are looking good in Indianapolis. Things are looking really good.

Statistics:

General: 22/36 (61.1%), 260 yards (7.2 yards per attempt), 2 TD, 1 INT, 90.0 passer rating, 69.6 QBR, 2 sacks, 2 rushes for 26 yards and 0 touchdowns (13 yards per carry)

Number of Drives: 9

Number of Plays: 63

Number of Passing Plays: 40 (63.49%)

Shotgun Snaps (pass plays): 23 (57.5%)

Play Action Attempts: 12 (30% of pass plays)

Drops: 3 (7.5% 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. Red headings along upper and lefthand side indicate how the areas of the field are broken down.

Screen_shot_2013-09-30_at_5

* 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:

  • The best play Luck made on Sunday was one that was called back due to an illegal hands to the face penalty (Jeff Linkenbach, grr!). He took the snap from the shotgun (empty backfield), looked left, looked right, stepped up in the pocket then stepped to the left before being hit in the legs by a Jaguars' defender. Right as that was happening, though, Luck released a laser throw to Reggie Wayne in the back of the end zone coming across the middle for a touchdown. Unfortunately the score won't go down in the stat book (it would have been a 15 yard touchdown pass), but that doesn't stop us from looking at it here and I certainly will give Luck credit for a tremendous play. It was great, which makes it even worse that it didn't count. (As a side note, that's the second touchdown pass Luck has had called back due to penalty this year - the first one a penalty by Reggie, the second a pass to Reggie).
  • Some people have blamed T.Y. Hilton for this incompletion, but I don't really know how you can. Some people point to the observation that it looks like he slowed down, but Andrew Luck has got to hit him when he's that wide open. I place this one on Luck. If he hits the pass, it could very well be six points. The only guy left to beat once Hilton turns it upfield is the man guarding Darrius Heyward-Bey, who is a great blocking wide receiver. I don't care whether Hilton showed any hesitation or not, when he's that wide open, Luck has to hit him. Img_2118_medium
  • Let's look at the interception. Really, it just looks like a miscommunication between Luck and Hilton. First Hilton starts off like he's running a screen route, then he takes off on a short comeback route. Luck throws it 5-6 yards further downfield than Hilton - right into the arms of defensive back Will Blackmon (and I'm not kidding, either - it was right into his arms. He began to break back towards the ball and instead it came right to him.) Of course, as you'd expect, Luck took credit for it, saying, "It was the wrong throw for me. TY ran the right routes and everything. I put it in the wrong spot. We know we can't survive on our mistakes like that every week. I'll hopefully improve, get better and we'll continue to roll." No matter who's fault it was - Luck or Hilton's - the bottom line is that they were not on the same page early on in the game, and it showed. They need to get better, and I have total confidence that they will.

Img_2114_medium

Other Notes:

  • For the first time in his NFL career, Andrew Luck was not under center for a snap for the Indianapolis Colts. Because of their huge lead (at that point it was 34-3), the Colts decided to give Luck a rest and put Matt Hasselbeck in the game. Hasselbeck completed 2 of 3 passes for 37 yards and led the Colts to a field goal. Luck had taken every single snap last season (in 17 games, including playoffs) and in the first 3 games this season. In his 21st career game, he finally missed a snap - and that due only to a huge lead.
  • As kind of an extension of what I mentioned earlier regarding T.Y. Hilton, I counted at least 4 plays where Luck and his receiver weren't on the same page - and three of them involved T.Y. Hilton. I don't think it's any cause for concern but rather something we note because of the fact that it doesn't happen often.
  • Coby Fleener and Reggie Wayne both had 5 receptions on Sunday, and every single one of them went for a first down. That's impressive. Just an interesting note not so much related to Andrew Luck but to the passing game in general.
  • I know I mentioned it earlier already, but here's a bit of a visual on the difference between the two halves for Andrew Luck on Sunday:
Andrew Luck vs. Jaguars - 9/29/13
Cmp.. Att. % Yards YPA TD INT Rating
1st Half 14 27 51.9 140 5.19 0 1 51.46
2nd Half 8 9 88.9 120 13.3 2 0 158.3
Total 22 36 61.1 260 7.22 2 1 90.0

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

Andrew Luck:

"It wasn't an ideal start. It was more of a terrible start to the game offensively for us. ... We sort of woke up in the second half. Those two scoring drives were big for us. That is what we needed."

Chuck Pagano:

"Listening to him talk and talking to him, he did get off to a slow start, but he is an even-keeled guy. We go back to the process, 60 minutes, one play at a time, and judge. He is one of those guys who can put things behind him and move on."

Overall Game Grade: B+

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