This is the second time this season that Marshall Faulk has asked us this question about Andrew Luck and an opposing quarterback, and I must admit this is an easier question when asking about a skill to take from a player like Tom Brady rather than a player like Andy Dalton. Brady is a surefire first ballot Hall of Famer, and this weekend the quarterback matchup highlights the Colts vs. Patriots game, as Andrew Luck and Tom Brady will be taking the field on opposing sides. If we reversed the question and asked what skill from Luck would Brady most want, it'd likely be Luck's mobility and ability to create plays in that way. But what about taking a skill from Brady and giving it to Luck? The biggest thing I would say is Brady's protection of the football.
I hate to even use this one because I've seen way too many narratives this week and every other week about how Andrew Luck is "turnover prone" because he has thrown nine interceptions already this year. But any of you reading this site regularly know what I think about that label, and I think that interception percentage is a much more telling stat because it takes into account the number of throws a quarterback attempts as well. For example, Luck has thrown more passes than anyone in the NFL this year. It makes sense that some of those will be intercepted, especially for a third year quarterback. In his career (since 2012), just 2.3% of Andrew Luck's passes have been intercepted. That ties for the sixth best interception percentage ever, ahead of guys like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Dan Marino, Joe Montana, and others. So let's stop this misinformed notion that Andrew Luck is "turnover prone."
At the same time, however, I acknowledge fully that Tom Brady is better at protecting the football than Andrew Luck. In fact, Brady's career interception percentage of just 2.0% ranks second all-time, and obviously he has a much larger sample size to go off of as well. In the past six seasons Brady has played, he has as many seasons of single-digit interception totals as he does with double-digit pick totals, and the most he has thrown in a single season since before the 2007 season is 13. This year, he is on pace to throw just five picks, as he has thrown three through nine games - and two of those interceptions came in a single game. Since 2012 (the same year Luck entered the league), Brady has an interception percentage of just 1.4%. And that's in roughly the same amount of throws as Luck - since 2012 Luck has thrown 1,590 times and Brady has thrown 1,599 times. Starting from last week, you'd have to go back to 2010 before you counted 36 Tom Brady interceptions, the same number Andrew Luck has so far in his career.
Understand this is not Andrew Luck bashing. Remember, Andrew Luck is not turnover prone. His interception percentage is still very, very good. But it's ok to say Tom Brady is better at something while still saying Luck is good, and Brady is incredible at protecting the football. For as brilliant as Luck has been in his short career and especially this season and with the stats he has put up, imagine him with Brady's protection of the football.
I think Luck will get better as he goes on at protecting the football. Keep in mind that in his first three years as a starter (47 games), Brady threw 38 interceptions on 1,541 attempts - an interception percentage of 2.5%. In his first three years as a starter (41 games and counting), Luck has thrown 36 interceptions on 1,590 attempts - an interception percentage of 2.3%. Similar numbers, but Luck does have the edge. Brady has just kept getting better at this area, however, and we can only hope the same will be true of Andrew Luck. He's already an incredible quarterback and he's already elite. But if you combine the skills he already has with Tom Brady's protection of the football - which is second-best all-time - Luck could be even better (as hard as that is to imagine).
What about you? What skill of Tom Brady's would you most like to give Andrew Luck (and don't you dare say "rings")?