Andrew Luck Recap: Game Nine vs. Rams

Andy Lyons

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 ninth game against the St. Louis Rams.

For almost all of his time in Indianapolis, Andrew Luck has been so incredible I don't even know what to say. He has made all of the throws and created plays out of nothing with his running ability. He been an incredible leader of this team and has led them to numerous game-winnning drives and fourth quarter comebacks. He has been one of the most incredible and amazing players to watch in the NFL the past year and a half, and I have had nothing but good things to say about him.

Not so today. I'm not going to sugarcoat his performance against the Rams: he stunk.

People who want to defend Andrew Luck will point to the fact that the offensive line was atrocious, and they'd be right. People who want to defend Andrew Luck will point to the fact that the receivers he's playing with aren't exactly that great, and they'd be right. People who want to defend Andrew Luck will point to the fact that the Colts flat out stunk running the ball on Sunday, and they'd be right. But we've seen Andrew Luck overcome all of those before. The only thing Andrew Luck can't overcome is himself. And on Sunday, Luck was his own worst enemy.

The offensive line allowed a ton of pressure, the receivers dropped passes, and the Colts all but gave up on the run - yet Andrew Luck was errant as well. I counted six passes that were clearly high or overthrown that were incomplete (so not including the ones that were high and caught). I counted four others that were just plain bad passes that were off target that fell incomplete. And those were just the obvious incompletions.

Operating out of an offense that is as close to ideal that the Colts are going to get this year, using quite a bit of no huddle and throwing it a lot, Andrew Luck didn't step up to the challenge. The Colts turned the ball over five times on Sunday, and four of them were by Andrew Luck. He matched his season total through the first eight games combined with three picks on Sunday.

And here's the thing that really stood out about Andrew Luck: he looked rattled. He didn't look comfortable. Chalk that up to the offensive line or the loss of Reggie or whatever, but it was something we saw for really the first time last week against the Texans and then more so on Sunday.

We knew the loss of Reggie Wayne was going to be difficult because we were wondering who Andrew Luck was going to throw to, but so far he has been inconsistent on even getting the ball to them in the first place. Last week an incredible comeback masked the poor play, but this week there is no such comeback. Andrew Luck was bad on Sunday and it was quite stunning how many plays he left on the field.

His team didn't help him out at all. But Andrew Luck didn't help himself out either. You can make excuses all you want, but that won't negate Luck's bad performance.

As FOX Sports' Chris Myers said while calling the game on Sunday: "even Superman has days where he's just kind of like Clark Kent."

Statistics:

General: 29/47 (61.7%), 353 yards (7.5 yards per attempt), 1 TD, 3 INT, 65.3 passer rating, 13.6 QBR, 3 sacks, 4 rush attempts for 17 yards and no touchdowns (4.3 yards per carry)

Number of Drives: 12 (not including the drives (1) Matt Hasselbeck led)

Number of Plays: 62 (not including the snaps Matt Hasselbeck took)

Number of Passing Plays: 54 (87.1%)

Shotgun Snaps (pass plays): 41 (75.9% of pass plays)

Play Action Attempts: 9 (16.7% of pass plays)

Drops: 2 (3.7% 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_2013-11-12_at_11

* 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.

Other Notes:

  • Luck's quarterback rating of 65.7 was his lowest rated game of the season and the fifth lowest of his career. His QBR of 13.6 was the lowest of the season and the lowest of his career.
  • One thing Andrew Luck did do well on Sunday was avoid sacks. On both of his throwaways he avoided sacks and for the most part he did his best to avoid the sacks, with the three that he took being nearly impossible to avoid because of the line failures.
  • Andrew Luck completed at least one pass to eight different players.
  • Going back to last season, in Luck's last 11 regular season games he threw 3 interceptions combined (373 pass attempts). He threw 3 on Sunday alone (47 pass attempts). Luck's first pick snapped a streak of 105 consecutive pass attempts without a pick as well.
  • One of the more concerning parts of Andrew Luck's game was not only misfiring on passes but making bad decisions. More specifically, trying to do too much or force the ball downfield when he shouldn't or doesn't need to. He made numerous bad decisions that involved him trying to throw the ball downfield when the defense was giving him something underneath. He needed to just take time and take what the defense was giving him, which is something he did not do. There are times for shots downfield but there is a difference between that and being careless with the football, and often times on Sunday Luck was the latter of those two options. The following play is perhaps the best example of this of any on Sunday and perhaps the worst decision Andrew Luck made on Sunday. On this play, the Colts are in the red zone (where they turned it over three times overall as a team) and Darrius Heyward-Bey is covered. Donald Brown, meanwhile, is wide open in the flat (see picture below). Luck tries to force the pass to DHB, who by the time the ball gets there has two defenders right around him and one of them picks it off easily. It was a terrible decision by Luck to throw that pass and made worse by the fact that Brown was wide open in the flat and might have scored, or at very least gotten some good yards while throwing to DHB ended in a drive-killing interception. It wasn't the only example of this on Sunday by any means but it was the most prominent and noticeable one. Screen_shot_2013-11-12_at_12
  • But hey, if you're looking for a positive from Andrew Luck's game, he accounted for 94.4% of the team's rushing yardage. The problem is, he rushed for only 17 yards, meaning the team as a whole outside of him rushed for a combined one yard. One.
  • Andrew Luck had a few drives where he was brilliant, which made his day even more frustrating. On some drives he was terrible and on some he was great. For example, on two straight drives he threw two terrible picks, and then the next drive he came right out and led the team downfield and was 8 of 8 passing for 90 yards and a touchdown, plus a two point conversion pass completed. That was the story of the day from Andrew Luck - some good but very inconsistent and unfortunately more consistently bad than good.
  • Perhaps - perhaps - Pep Hamilton is figuring it out a bit. I know, I know, he was terrible on Sunday as well, but the Colts went with more no huddle and more shotgun, and before you just chalk that up to the big deficit consider that they were doing it near the beginning of the game too. The Colts also got Trent Richardson and Donald Brown involved in the passing game, which is something they absolutely have to do more. They need to get LaVon Brazill more opportunities, as Andrew Luck only targeted him once (Matt Hasselbeck targeted him four times, completing one). And T.Y. Hilton absolutely needs a bigger role too. He had another great game on Sunday but it seemed like for quite a while (the latter part of the first quarter and most of the second, at least) Pep Hamilton and Andrew Luck forgot that Hilton was still in the offense. That's a mistake they absolutely cannot make. I honestly don't think anyone in the league can cover Hilton, as he is too fast and too good, so teams will need to get creative to stop him which should free it up for other guys.

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

Peter King in his Monday Morning Quarterback, under the section of what he didn't like this week:

"Andrew Luck, who threw a bad end-zone interception to Trumaine Johnson and, in general, had one of the roughest starts of his young career."

Overall Game Grade: D

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