2013 Colts Positional Preview: Quarterback

USA TODAY Sports

Stampede Blue’s Josh Wilson takes a look at each position, looking at the talent they have and at how the final roster might play out. Today we look at the quarterbacks.

Andrew Luck. Andrew Luck. Andrew Luck.

Well, that's about it for the preview of the quarterback position. Thanks for reading!

Ok, I kid, I kid - but only because of this minimum word count I need to reach.

Seriously, though, no position on the entire Colts roster is more set than the quarterback position, and no player on the entire Colts roster is better than the starter at the quarterback position, Andrew Luck.

As a rookie in 2012, Luck put together one of the best quarterbacked seasons that I have seen in the NFL in a long time.* He made the pro bowl (albeit as an alternate), led a bad Colts team to 11 wins and a playoff berth, and posted very impressive individual numbers (including rookie passing records) while enduring an insane amount of pressure due to a terrible offensive line.

In 2012, Luck completed 54.1% of his 627 passes for 4,374 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions while averaging 7.0 yards per attempt. He also added 255 yards and 5 scores on the ground rushing. Perhaps the most impressive part of Luck's game last year was in the final minutes, where the rookie quarterback quickly established himself as one of the best (if not the best) in the league. He led 7 game winning drives and 4 fourth quarter comebacks, constantly pulling a win out in the final minutes of a close game.

There's no reason to think that he won't be better in 2013. Equipped with a new but familiar offense, a retooled offensive line, and better receiving threats, Luck could take the league by storm. Perhaps it is unfair to say this about a guy entering his second year, but I fully expect him to emerge as one of the NFL's best signal callers and I expect him to enter into the MVP race in 2013. Yes, I'm serious. This guy is as good of a young quarterback as I have ever seen - in fact, I have never seen a guy have a more impressive rookie season than Luck did. His numbers absolutely will improve in 2013 and his play will too. He will be the unquestioned leader of a team with playoff expectations from fans and Super Bowl expectations from themselves. Some (like me) think they will win the AFC South. All of these expectations revolve around one player, and that one player is Andrew Luck.

If you think this is way too high of expectations for a second year quarterback, you are absolutely right. But if you look at Andrew Luck and take away his experience factor, he has all the makings of a quarterback ready to burst onto the scene even more than he did last year.

Ok, my love fest on Andrew Luck is over. The team has two other quarterbacks on their roster, both of whom are very intriguing options. Despite having two capable backups, there is zero percent of a competition for the number two spot. None. Zilch. Zero.

Matt Hasselbeck has the overwhelming hold on the number two quarterback spot. I mean, when you're paying your backup quarterback close to $4 million a year, he should be! And Hasselbeck will indeed be the number two guy. The Colts signed him this offseason, and though it was surprising, it was still a good move. As I outlined in my free agent profile on Hasselbeck, there is three ways that this move will help the Colts:

  1. It will help Andrew Luck learn the ins and outs of being a successful NFL quarterback and gives him a tremendous mentor everyday in the meeting room - someone who has played well and won at this level. Hasselbeck will be a great influence on Luck and will be a key figure, albeit behind the scenes, to Luck's continued development as a signal caller.
  2. It will help Chandler Harnish, the team's other quarterback. Harnish is also entering his second year, and Hasselbeck will likely be even a bigger help to Harnish than he will be to Luck. If Harnish wants to make it as a quarterback in the NFL, he would be very smart to be paying very close attention to Hasselbeck. The opportunity to learn from a good veteran will be huge and is key to Harnish developing into the quarterback I think he could be.
  3. It will help the team in the awful scenario that Andrew Luck gets injured. The Colts tried to sign Hasselbeck before the 2011 season as an insurance policy in case Peyton Manning missed games, but he choose the Titans instead. The Colts went with Kerry Collins, and that set in motion the terrible season of 2011 that led to Andrew Luck coming to Indianapolis. While things worked out last time, they wouldn't should it happen again. Having Hasselbeck as the backup ensures that, should the worst happen, the Colts' 2013 wouldn't be over. They could still win some games and be competitive.
The only real question when it comes to the roster is whether Harnish will make the final 53-man roster or whether he will be on the practice squad. I think that, barring a ton of injuries in the preseason that require roster spots to be left open, Chandler Harnish will start the season on the 53-man roster. Brad Wells' recent projection of the final rosteragreed. That said, he will be the first to go should a roster spot be needed. I don't expect him to last long on the roster, unless the team really wants to keep him and is afraid other teams will sign him off of their practice squad. While I wouldn't think that would happen, it is certainly a possibility. I think he will make the final roster out of preseason, but that soon after he will be demoted to the practice squad to make room for someone else.

Bottom line is that there isn't a position more set than quarterback. There aren't many starting quarterbacks in the NFL than Andrew Luck. There isn't a better backup quarterback than Matt Hasselbeck in the entire NFL. And not many teams have a third string guy better than Chandler Harnish.

Andrew Luck will determine just how successful the Colts' 2013 season will be. And that should be an incredibly encouraging thing for Colts fans. August can't get here soon enough!


*Now, just to let you know, the area I analyze the most and my "expertise," if you want to call it that, is with quarterbacks. That is largely because of Peyton Manning, and I analyzed and analyzed and analyzed his every game. I became one of the biggest Peyton defenders there was (and I still am one of them) and as a result I have as much knowledge on Peyton's career as anyone. Part of defending Peyton also requires extensive knowledge of other great quarterbacks in NFL history, so when I say that about Luck's season, don't take it lightly.
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