It was something you never thought would happen at Lucas Oil Stadium, but it was reality today: Andrew Luck and the Colts' starting offense getting booed off the field. Just one year after being one of the top offenses in the league and in a year in which Luck was garnering MVP hype in preseason, the Colts were booed off the field.
Here's the most amazing thing about it: it was deserved. The Colts' offense and their franchise quarterback were struggling, and it's wasn't just a one-game fluke. The issues have been present for most of the season, and they extend to Luck. Maybe the better way to say it is that they start with Luck.
Luck has been bad this year, without a doubt. He has completed just 56.2% of his passes, which would be the worst for a season since his rookie year. He has thrown for 1,398 yards, averaging just 6.7 yards per attempt - which would be the worst for a season in his career. He has thrown 11 touchdowns and 9 picks, on pace to throw the most interceptions in any season since he has entered the NFL. His passer rating of 76.3 is the worst of any season in his NFL career. This isn't supposed to be the case for a guy who broke the franchise record for single-season passing yards last year and led the league in touchdown passes. Yet that's reality right now, as the Colts' franchise player is struggling just as much as the rest of the team. Gone are the days of Luck covering over all of the flaws - now, he's one of them. He's had moments of playing well - such as the fourth quarter of the Titans game and the first quarter of the Patriots game - but he hasn't put it all together. Most of the time, Luck looks rattled. Uncertain. Just flat out off on his throws. And the Colts can't seem to figure it out.
"Obviously it's not where he wants to be," head coach Chuck Pagano said after the game. "It's not where we want him to be. It's not something that we're going to bury our head in the sand and say, ‘Hey everything is okay.' It's just like everything else, we're going to look at that, we're going to look at everything. We all know what he's capable of and the player that he is and all that stuff, but again we're going to go back in there, we're going to look at him. We got to get it fixed. We don't have a choice. We've got another opportunity coming up. We're playing Monday Night Football on the road against a great football team."
Pagano denied that the struggles have anything to do with Luck's injury, saying instead that, "it just comes down to making great decisions. At any position if you try to make plays, press, this, that and the other then sometimes things don't work out the way that you want them to."
Luck agreed, saying that he feels fine but that he's not happy with how he played. "Yeah, I'd say I'm frustrated up here," Luck said. "I think as a unit, we're frustrated and I'm frustrated with myself. Some egregious turnovers, especially the one at the end of the half. It's really bad football. But we're pros. Guys are pros. Guys are pros in that locker room. We'll come to work tomorrow and start working to fix it. I know that'll be the case."
But what's wrong? Nobody seems to be able to figure that one out. Saints pass rusher Cameron Jordan, who sacked Luck a couple of times on Sunday, admitted that, "you could tell he was getting a little frustrated."
What's the solution, though? That's a question that doesn't seem to have an answer right now. Maybe the issue is health. Maybe the issue is pressure. Maybe the issue is coaching. Maybe the issue is simply Luck being awful. Most likely, it's a combination of all of them, but how the Colts go about fixing all of it is a mystery.
One thing is for sure, though: the Colts better figure it out quickly, because they are 3-4 and facing a tough upcoming schedule as well. Maybe they can win the AFC South, but that's not the goal. The goal isn't to win the worst division in football, it's to make a push for a Super Bowl championship. And unless the Colts and Andrew Luck can get the issues figured out, they'll be nowhere close to achieving that goal.