clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Should the Colts stick with Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback over Andrew Luck?


Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

If you've paid attention to some of the talk amongst the media recently, you've probably heard this stat thrown around: Matt Hasselbeck is 4-0 as a starter this year, while Andrew Luck is 2-5.  That has led many to suggest that the Colts are better off starting Hasselbeck even once Luck is healthy.  Yeah, seriously.

Now, with the number of people clamoring for the Colts to stick with Hasselbeck growing louder and reporters asking Chuck Pagano about it at his press conference, it's time to address the question: should the Colts start Matt Hasselbeck or Andrew Luck if both are healthy?

The main only argument that those in favor of the Colts starting Hasselbeck moving forward is that the Colts are undefeated with him under center, adding more fuel to the "QBWinz" fire.  With Hasselbeck under center, the Colts are 4-0, and with Luck under center they're 2-5.  Seems like an easy decision, right?  But is the quarterback the only factor in that equation?  Consider this: in seven games with Andrew Luck, the Colts faced four top seven defenses in terms of total yards (including the top three) and four of the top nine defense in terms of points.  In four games with Hasselbeck under center, the Colts have faced one top-ten defense in terms of yards and no defense ranked higher than 13th in terms of points.  The seven opponents that the Colts faced with Luck are 47-30 on the year (.610), while the four opponents the Colts have faced with Hasselbeck are 21-23 on the year (.477).  So in other words, the opponent faced needs to be factored in to the discussion.

Furthermore, when taking a look at whether the offense really has been better with Hasselbeck than with Luck, it's clear that the offense with Andrew Luck was better than the offense with Matt Hasselbeck (especially when considering the opponents faced).

Colts' Offensive Production
Luck Hasselbeck
22.4 Points 23
362 Total Yards 315.3
256.1 Pass Yards 247.5
105.9 Rush Yards 67.8
5.26 Yards Per Play 4.76
20.7 1st Downs 21
43.0% 3rd Down % 42.9%
2.4 Turnovers 1.3
11.3 Defense Rank (Yards) 12.3
11.9 Defense Rank (Points) 20

Basically, here's the deal: the offense with Andrew Luck has been better than the Matt Hasselbeck offense besides for turnovers.  Granted, that's a big deal, but we've also seen what the offense can do while not turning the football over.  Luck helped lead the Colts to an upset win over the then-undefeated Broncos and their number one ranked defense, and I'd encourage anyone suggesting to stick with Hasselbeck to go back and look at that game and ask this one question: do the Colts win that game without Luck?  The quarterback was hit hard and often, made plays with his legs, and the Colts won by three points.  Sure, it was the best game that Luck played this year, but the Colts won't make a Super Bowl run without Luck under center.  It seems unlikely that they will regardless of the quarterback at this point, but if Luck is playing well they have a chance.

Understand that this isn't taking anything away from Matt Hasselbeck.  He has played well through his four games as a starter and has done everything you could possibly ask for - and more - from a backup filling in.  He has kept the Colts in the playoff race and has kept the team's hopes alive, so this isn't knocking him whatsoever.  Instead, this is acknowledging the fact that Luck is the team's franchise quarterback and Luck is the team's hope at making noise in the playoffs.  The Colts can't just give up on him because a 40-year old quarterback has filled in and is playing well.

Perhaps head coach Chuck Pagano said it best at his press conference today: "Andrew is our starting quarterback and when he is healthy and he is 100 percent healthy and the doctors and our trainers say he is ready to roll then he is going to be under center."  Anyone who thinks it should be otherwise is simply buying into the "QBWinz" narrative.