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For Colts Offensive Line, Protecting Andrew Luck must be Priority

Aug 25, 2012; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins defensive end Stephen Bowen (72) sacks Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) during the first half at FedEX Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
Aug 25, 2012; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins defensive end Stephen Bowen (72) sacks Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) during the first half at FedEX Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE

Well, that certainly was a long game wasn't it?

There is no way around it - the Colts did not look good today. The run defense, the pass defense, the offensive line, the run game... they all looked bad.

The only thing that looked good today was the passing game. More specifically, the quarterbacks. Andrew Luck completed 14 out of 23 passes for 151 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Chandler Harnish handled the number two duties in the absence of Drew Stanton (whose wife went into labor earlier) and completed 13 out of 20 passes for 149 yards, one touchdown and was not picked either.

And much more impressively, they did it while constantly on the run. They both got hit... and hit again.

The first week, against the Rams, we were all just totally in awe of everything Luck did, but more specifically his adjustment to the NFL level. Last week in Pittsburgh, we were impressed with his resilience. This week, it was his pocket presence. He moved around extremely well, and sensed the pressure well. His touchdown throw was beautiful - not just because of the great throw, but because of his great movement in the pocket. He stepped up and bought the time he needed to hit T.Y. Hilton down the left sidelines at the pylon for a score. Perfect.

While it was a positive for Luck, however, it was not as much so for the line. In fact, they were absolutely awful today. Seth Olsen, Winston Justice, and Jeff Linkenbach in particular. Constant pressure on the quarterback. And when that quarterback is all you have, you simply must keep him off the ground. He's a tough guy, but the hits add up.

While on the subject, the offensive line needs to be addressed. The first roster cutdown is due by Monday, and the Colts have the first position on the waiver wire. So basically, if they want someone, they can get him. I expect the Colts to be fairly active. Also, with the mysterious trade that Jim Irsay has stupidly been tweeting about, I am now totally in favor of an offensive lineman. The Colts need to have protecting Andrew Luck be one of (if not the) most important priorities this year.

Luck has impressed everyone this preseason. He is NFL ready, and quite frankly is a spectacular football player already. Sure, he will have his growing pains, but the kid is unquestionably the future. He has showed it every game thus far. Fans are excited. Indy is feeling a lot better about parting ways with Peyton Manning, because now we have a guy that plays just like him - and much younger, too. There is a reason the Colts were on national TV last week - Andrew Luck. There is a reason why I think they may get a game flexed into prime time later this year - Andrew Luck. My, how quickly the transformation has occurred - Luck is now the face of the Colts. And today, that face hit the dirt way too much.

Every quarterback will get hit, but today was outrageous. The Colts offensive line simply must get better. They must. With how bad the defense is, Luck is the only thing keeping the Colts watchable this year.

The line also was awful at run blocking today. The Colts ran the ball 26 times and gained only 51 total yards. They got a score on the ground, but it was a goal line run. They averaged 2 yards per carry today. That cannot happen.

Yes, the future of the National Football League was on display today. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III both will be great players in the league, but in at least my opinion, Luck looked much further along and better overall than RG3. I know I'm biased, but that's they way I saw it.

Yes, Luck was on display today. He was great once again. But the line must get better. There were other concerns today, such as the run and pass defense, but in my opinion the offensive line was the biggest one. Remember another first overall pick, David Carr with Houston? His career could never take off because he was hit so much. Now, I'm not saying the Colts offensive line is going to be even close to that bad, but they have to keep Luck clean so he can continue to learn.

That is the reason I am concerned: because behind that offensive line stands the most important player on our franchise. This should come as nothing unusual for Colts fans, as the same thing could be said when Peyton played. The Colts need to protect Luck. They must.

So while today Andrew Luck was great, the Colts have to keep him off the ground to ensure he continues to be.