For much of the past month, the Indianapolis Colts - currently first place in the AFC South by two games - have looked like the worst team in football. At least, that's how they've played. In the first halves of the last four games, they have been outscored 93-9.
It's easy to find blame wherever you look: the defense, the offensive line, the wide receivers, the coaches - pretty much any area you look at could be blamed at least in part for the recent struggles, and that includes the quarterback.
Andrew Luck hasn't been at his best in recent weeks, although if you ranked the people most at fault for the failures in the past month, Luck's name would be at or near the bottom. And on Sunday against the Cardinals, we saw perhaps the clearest example yet how Luck hasn't been great but how it most definitely isn't him and that it is impressive what he is doing despite no help.
On Sunday Luck was pressured constantly and forced to roll out numerous times, including times where he had no choice but to throw the ball away. I counted four passes that I thought should have been caught but that weren't, and the Colts couldn't run the football to take the load off of Luck either. He got absolutely no help whatsoever, and to add to that his defense allowed a bunch of points.
At the same time, Luck made a terrible throw and decision that resulted in a pick-six for the Cardinals, showing that he still isn't completely free of blame. But it is totally unfair to blame him for the Colts struggles, and Sunday we saw why - his team hasn't helped him out at all.
In fact, the only reason the Colts are 2-2 in the last four games is because of Andrew Luck. While on Sunday he couldn't lead the Colts back from a huge deficit, he has other times. He is the only reason this team is even still winning games.
On Sunday, though, they lost, and it showed perhaps better than any other game this year just how much Andrew Luck has to carry this team and just how hard that is.
General: 20/39 (51.28%), 163 yards (4.2 yards per attempt), 1 TD, 1 INT, 60.1 passer rating, 21.9 QBR, 1 sack, 2 rush attempts for 31 yards and 0 touchdowns (15.5 yards per carry)
Number of Drives: 11
Number of Plays: 55
Number of Passing Plays: 42 (76.36%)
Shotgun Snaps (pass plays): 34 (80.95% of pass plays)
Play Action Attempts: 1 (2.38% of pass plays)
Drops: 4 (9.52% 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
* 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.
- On six of the Colts eleven drives they ran only three plays or less - they had five three and outs and then Andrew Luck threw a pick-six on the second play of another drive. That means that 54.5% of the Colts drives for the game didn't make it past three plays.
- Luck's 163 passing yards was the second lowest total of his career, behind only the win over the 49ers earlier in the year when he threw for 159 yards.
- In the first eight games of the season, Andrew Luck turned the ball over only four times. In the past three games, he has turned the ball over five times, including one on Sunday (an interception).
- Luck's 28 yard rush early in the 4th quarter was a career long for him.
- Luck's touchdown pass to Coby Fleener was perfect. Right over the arms of the Cardinals defender and into Fleener's hands.
- Center Samson Satele actually caught a pass! Luck's pass was batted up in the air by a defensive lineman, which made it legal for one of the Colts offensive linemen to touch it. It was tipped up in the air again and Satele this time saw it and grabbed it, then took off running. He actually got past one guy then tried to stiff arm another but was brought down for a gain of... zero. But hey, it's not every day that a lineman catches a pass!
- Per Cecil Lammey citing ESPN stats, the Cardinals pressured Andrew Luck 15 times with only 4 or fewer defenders, the most Luck has ever been pressured in a game with 4 or fewer defenders.
- Luck's interception was just a terrible decision. He was pressured by a Cardinals defender and he tried to get away, but he couldn't and another defender came from behind. As Luck saw that he wasn't going to escape and that he was going down, he decided to throw the football. As he was going down, he threw the ball about ten yards downfield towards Coby Fleener, who had run a stick route and turned around and stopped for a second. A Cardinals defender was standing nearby, and when Luck threw the football the defender (Karlos Dansby) simply made a jump on the ball and caught it in stride, taking it back the other way. Luck was on the ground with the two defenders and nobody caught Dansby as he ran into the end zone. It was a bad throw by Luck but that was because of the terrible decision. The positive is that later in the game a similar play occurred and Luck was about to throw as he was going down, but then pulled the ball back and tucked it, taking the hit. He's a very quick learner, and it showed. Below is a bit of a visual of the interception play:
What an absolutely terrible decision by Andrew Luck. It ain’t all Pep Hamilton, kids.— Michael Schottey (@Schottey) November 24, 2013
Terrible decision by Andrew Luck under pressure. He's trying to do way too much by himself.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) November 24, 2013
(note: the above two tweets are in reference to the interception Luck threw)
I'm no stats wonk, but when Larry Fitzgerald (39.6) has a higher passer rating than Andrew Luck (20.1), that's not good right?— Conrad Brunner (@1070Bruno) November 24, 2013
(note: it didn't end up that way, but at halftime it was true. 39.6 is the passer rating for going 0 for 1, which Fitzgerald did.)
The lack of playmakers for Andrew Luck is becoming more apparent each passing week.— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) November 24, 2013