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Bill Polian sees similarities between Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck's fourth seasons in NFL

Former Colts general manager Bill Polian spoke with the Indianapolis Star's Zak Keefer about Andrew Luck's struggles, and Polian pointed out the similarities between Luck's fourth year and Peyton Manning's fourth year with the Colts.

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

History often repeats itself, and it has certainly been the case for the Indianapolis Colts recently.

Take, for example, the first overall quarterback who was considered a "once in a generation" prospect being drafted by the Colts, quickly transforming them into a contender and playing well, before a very disappointing fourth season both for the team and individually that led to the head coach getting fired despite recent playoff berths.

Does that sound familiar?  It should - but I'm not talking about the current Andrew Luck Era Colts.  Instead, that's what happened with the Peyton Manning Era Colts during the early part of his tenure, and we see the same thing happening now with Luck.

In 2001, Manning completed 62.7% of his passes for 4,131 yards (7.6 yards per attempt), 26 touchdowns, and 23 interceptions for a passer rating of 84.1 as the Colts managed a dismal 6-10 record one year after Manning led the league in touchdown passes.  In 2015, Luck is on pace to complete 56.2% of his passes for 3,914 yards (6.7 yards per attempt), 31 touchdowns, and 25 interceptions for a passer rating of 76.3 as the Colts currently sit at 3-4 one year after Luck led the league in touchdown passes.  And as head coach Jim Mora was fired following the 2001 season, head coach Chuck Pagano is likely to be fired following the 2015 season.

Former Colts general manager Bill Polian, who built the Manning Era team and is now an analyst for ESPN, notices the same similarities between Manning's fourth year and Luck's fourth year in the league.  Talking with the Indianapolis Star's Zak Keefer about Luck's struggles this year, Polian pointed out the comparison.

"I do see a lot of similarities between Peyton's fourth year and Andrew now," Polian told Keefer.  "Peyton went into every game that year thinking he had to score 27 points for us to have a shot to win.  That led to him forcing the ball a lot.  I see Andrew doing a lot of the same thing."

Furthermore, Polian wondered (just like many others do) whether Luck is still playing injured, which would simply add to the pressure to create poor play.

"I don't know how healthy Andrew is," Polian said.  "It looks as if he's still bothered by the shoulder a little bit.  But everybody has to contribute.  The quarterback has the toughest job, but if he doesn't have help around him, the protection, the receivers getting open, it's a lot of pressure.  You saw that with Peyton that fourth year.  It mounts up over time.  And, if it's exacerbated with injury, that makes everything more difficult."

With Andrew Luck struggling like he is, everybody is trying to find out an answer as to why that is.  Some of the most prevalent theories are in line with what Polian mentioned, regarding a possible injury and the pressure mounting.  Whatever it is, the simple fact is that Luck has not been good this year.  He has been one of the team's biggest problems, and while there are still nine games left on the schedule and while the team is still in first place in the awful AFC South, the Colts won't make much noise this year unless Luck can get it going.

Peyton Manning vs. Andrew Luck: By the Numbers
Record Cmp % Yards YPA TD INT Rate
Peyton Manning's First Three Seasons 26-22 60.40% 12,287 7.3 85 58 85.4
Andrew Luck's First Three Seasons 33-11 58.60% 12,957 7.2 86 43 86.6
Peyton Manning's Fourth Season 6-10 62.70% 4,131 7.6 26 23 84.1
Andrew Luck's Fourth Season (projected) 7-9 56.20% 3,914 6.7 31 25 76.3