Andrew Luck Recap: Divisional Game vs. Patriots

Elsa

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 divisional game vs. the Patriots.

"When you lose in the playoffs, it is very abrupt," Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said following a season-ending 43-22 loss to the New England Patriots in the divisional round of the playoffs. "I'm wondering what to do. I feel like a lost puppy."

"I think everybody probably feels the same way, look forward to a great offseason and hopefully get over that hump."

Luck is the 24-year old franchise quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, an emerging superstar comparing losing in the playoffs to losing a puppy. That's Andrew, for you. He's a guy who'd rather play a board game - Settlers of Catan is his favorite - than go out for a night on the town. He's a guy who'd rather have an old flip phone and have real conversations with people at the Colts complex instead of be constantly texting others. He's a guy who grows a neck beard that becomes a subject of many jokes, even as Luck realized that it probably wasn't the best look. He's a 24-year old who is respectful yet fiery. He keeps a calm about him and never gets flustered, yet also has a deep passion to succeed that seeps out in everything he does.

This isn't the profile of a superstar NFL quarterback. But that's where Andrew Luck is greatest - he's humble and he's a human being. He's just one of the guys. He's a quarterback but in a linebacker's body and with a linebacker's mentality - he often can't wait to get on the field and hit somebody. He leads by example, and despite being only 24-years old commands complete respect and is universally viewed as a leader of the Colts - even amongst the veteran players. I've had people remark to me that they've never seen a guy this young command so much leadership so quickly. That's Andrew.

The players love him - he's just one of the guys. The fans love him - he's a down to earth human being. And not only is he all of the above, he's a pretty dang good quarterback too. He just completed his second season in the NFL, and through 32 games, he has completed 682-of-1,197 passes (57.0%) for 8,196 yards (6.85 yards per attempt), 46 touchdowns, 27 interceptions, and has rushed 125 times for 632 yards (5.1 yards per attempt) and 9 touchdowns. He's also made five tackles, for what it's worth. He has also led 11 game winning drives and 8 fourth quarter comebacks (including playoffs) and 6 of them have come when he was behind by double-digits. He is off to the most prolific start to a career of any passer ever statistically. But that's not what makes him great. There are a lot of things that do: his phenomenal pocket presence and ability to 'climb the pocket,' his mobility, his toughness, his progression, his never give up attitude. But one of the best attributes Luck possesses is his amnesia.

When Luck makes a mistake, he very quickly shakes it off. We've seen it time and time again, most notably just two weeks ago when Luck overcame 3 interceptions and a 28-point deficit to win in the wild card round of the playoffs against the Kansas City Chiefs. Luck makes mistakes, certainly, but he has the ability not to dwell on them and to brush them off better than almost anyone there is.

And that's the point - he will make mistakes, and he will have rough days (he threw 4 interceptions this past week against the Patriots). But what we're seeing is a quarterback who just completed his second season in the league, who cut his interception total in half from his first to second year and only threw 9 in 16 regular season games this year. This isn't the finished product, and we have to take that into consideration. He'll make some mistakes and some bad throws, but the key is that he shakes them off and the very next drive comes out and hasn't lost any confidence. He's constantly motivated to get better, but he'll never beat himself up over failure. Failure is a necessary part of progress. It's a learning experience, and that's what this year's playoff experience will be for Andrew Luck.

The 2013 season didn't end the way the Colts or Andrew Luck wanted it to, but because of Andrew Luck, the future is bright and not every season will end the way this did. Soon, the Colts will reach their goal. Why am I so confident in that? It's because of the man under center, number 12. The one who loves board games, has a flip phone, and just shaved his neck beard.

And I also get the sense that he's sick of feeling like he lost a puppy, and he's going to work to make sure he doesn't feel that way again.

Statistics:

General: 20/41 (48.78%), 331 yards (8.07 yards per attempt), 2 TD, 4 INT, 53.0 passer rating, 25.0 QBR, 3 sacks, 1 rush attempt for 5 yards and 0 touchdowns (5.0 yards per carry)

Number of Drives: 14

Number of Plays: 65

Number of Passing Plays: 45 (69.23% of plays)

Shotgun Snaps (pass plays): 40 (88.89% of pass plays)

Play Action Attempts: 6 (13.33% of pass plays)

Drops: 4 (8.89% 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_2014-01-14_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.

Other Notes:

  • Of Luck's four interceptions on Saturday, three of them came when the Colts were behind by more than one score. In fact, Luck has thrown 8 interceptions in 3 career postseason games. Only 1 of them has come when the Colts are within one score, and that was the first pick this past weekend when the score was tied at 0. I'm not really that upset about Luck's interceptions because one was a drop by fullback Stanley Havili and three came when the Colts were down by more than one score. Of course a young quarterback who has to do it almost all by himself will force some passes when trailing big in the playoffs. That makes perfect sense, and that's what we saw from Andrew Luck on Saturday.
  • Including playoffs, here are the rushing stats for Andrew Luck and running back Trent Richardson on the Colts this year. Wow. It says much more about Richardson than it does Luck, but still - it's interesting and shows that Luck actually does well running in addition to his passing.
    GP Att. Yards TD Avg.
    Luck 18 71 427 4 6.01
    Richardson 16 161 459 3 2.85
  • The Colts opened with Andrew Luck in the pistol formation. I believe that is the first time this year that they've used it, and if they did before, it wasn't often at all. Interesting.
  • Luck's first touchdown pass to LaVon Brazill was perfect. It was a thing of beauty, deep down the right sideline right over the defender and into Brazill's arms for a 38-yard touchdown.
  • I place the blame for three of Luck's four interceptions absolutely on Luck himself, but there are also other factors that contributed to it. On the first one throwing toward LaVon Brazill, Brazill got manhandled at the line of scrimmage and was completely out-physicaled. It was Luck's fault, but Brazill didn't help him out any either. On the last interception, Luck was throwing the back shoulder route to Brazill but he didn't recognize it and it was picked to officially end the game. CBS announcer Dan Dierdorf (best wishes in retirement, Dan. He's a class act) said that he placed the blame on Brazill for it. While I won't go that far, it was another instance of Luck not being helped out by his receiver. And, of course, one of his picks went right through Stanley Havili's hands. That one is absolutely not on Luck.
  • Da'Rick Rogers had a terrible game. Terrible. He didn't catch a single pass despite being targeted four times, and he dropped three passes that he should have caught. He dropped three of four targets. That's really, really bad. Not a good day for Rogers.

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

Mike Wells, ESPN:

"Luck will eventually take the throne from Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, but the time's not now. It will come, you can count on it. Luck's too good and too much of a perfectionist not to let it happen."

Overall Game Grade: C +

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