ENTERING the 2013 season, I was absolutely confident that Andrew Luck would see big improvement from year one to year two.
Now, I'm not so sure that I didn't underestimate just how much he would improve.
There's really not many words that we haven't already exhausted to describe just how good Luck is. In fact, perhaps the most telling thing that I can say of just how good he is following the Colts' 27-6 win over the Cleveland Browns in the third preseason game is this: he made nearly every throw right on target, and yet the fact that he didn't make one of those jaw-dropping "WOW!" moments kind of surprised me.
It may be a bit of a joke or a stretch to say that I have come to expect those type of jaw-dropping plays from Luck, but he makes them so often that there's a lot of truth to that statement as well.
While he didn't make any of those remarkable plays on Saturday night, he did indeed make several great throws that just reminded us how good he has become.
Let's take a look at his performance in the third preseason game, the one where the starters play the longest. Luck and the other starters played in to the third quarter before being removed, and they looked good too.
General: 16/25 (64%), 164 yards (6.6 yards per attempt), 2 TD, 1 INT, 92.8 passer rating, 1 sack, 4 rushes for 20 yards
Number of Drives: 7
Number of Plays: 46
Shotgun Snaps: 22 (47.8%)
Number of Passing Plays: 30 (65.2%)
Play Action Attempts: 5 (16.7% of pass plays)
Pressured: 10 (33.3% of pass plays)
Drops: 2 (6.7% 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. Red headings along upper and lefthand side indicate how the areas of the field are broken down.
Preseason Totals Through Three Games:
* 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 a 3rd down and long with about 6 minutes left to play in the second quarter, the Colts had a nice play design that, while it wasn't anything special by Luck, it was a good design and worked well. T.Y. Hilton was split out far left and Reggie Wayne was in the slot to the right. Dominique Jones was the tight end lined up on the left side of the line. Jones ran a post route and Hilton ran a go route, clearing out the defenders. Reggie ran a crossing route underneath and had a few steps on the defender guarding him. Luck hit him in stride and Reggie got the first down. It was a great job by the other receivers clearing out the defenders so that Reggie Wayne could get open underneath, and Luck hit him for the first down.
- Andrew Luck's interception wasn't really his fault. On 2nd down and 4 from the Cleveland 4 yard line, Luck rolled right but quickly saw a defender coming in fast towards him. Luck stopped rolling right, took a step backwards and threw somewhat sidearmed short right to fullback Stanley Havili, the same guy who caught Luck's first touchdown pass of the game. The pass was a little bit high, but just barely, and it went right through Havili's hands and in to the hands of a defender for the pick near the goal line. Luck put some heat on the ball to get it in to Havili and it went right through his hands. It was the first pick Luck has thrown this preseason, and it was a drop. Not bad (although, granted, he should have had another one last week on the play that was a dropped pick that Reggie Wayne turned in to a touchdown).
- Andrew Luck's running ability was on display in the game as well. He ran the ball 4 times, gaining 20 yards. Each of the runs were on scrambles and were good moves by Luck to go down before taking too much contact and his slides looked much better. They still don't look great, but they looked better than they have in the past. Luck commented on his slides after the game: "I don't know, I haven't figured out how to slide. I'm just going to go down and however way I go down and avoid a hit is the way it'll be." Pre-slide was also an area that drew attention, and Chuck Pagano alluded to it by saying after the game that Luck runs "way too much." In particular, one notable run came on the Colts' first drive of the game, where on 3rd down and 13 Luck tucked and scrambled to the right. He gained only 6 yards, but I couldn't help but wonder whether in a regular season (or especially playoff) game if he would have tried to juke back inside and get the first down. Saturday night, however, he went down on a slide, gaining 6 yards and setting up Adam Vinatieri for an easier field goal of 32 yards.
- Browns linebacker Paul Kruger said after the game of Luck's running ability: "He's a big strong guy and he can run," Kruger said. "He made a lot of good plays with his feet. When he extends plays like that it's tough on a defense to keep coverage."