Around draft time earlier this year, there was an interesting discussion that took place regarding the Colts and draft needs. I'm oversimplifying it here, but basically a number of national analysts thought that offensive line was the team's biggest need, while Colts fans didn't agree. And while there were reasons for the disagreement, perhaps this one was the biggest of all of them: the Colts have Andrew Luck.
Colts fans saw it first-hand with Peyton Manning, as for a number of his seasons in Indianapolis the team had a sub-par offensive line, yet Manning's quick release made him one of the least sacked quarterbacks in the league and one of the best against pressure. Andrew Luck is taking up right where his predecessor left off, as Luck too is one of the league's best when under pressure.
This is according to Pro Football Focus, who did an extensive study on quarterbacks under pressure. In terms of how often quarterbacks were pressured, Andrew Luck was pressured the tenth-most of any signal caller in 2014, as he faced pressure on 37.1% of his snaps. The top of the list, featuring Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson, is skewed by their playing style and by Wilson's tendency to hold on to the football. So since Luck was pressured quite a bit, it's a good thing that he's also one of the best when under pressure.
PFF found that Luck was the fifth-best when under pressure in 2014, with a grade of 8.9 (0.0 is average). Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Ryan Tannehill, and Tom Brady were the only ones who graded better than Luck in the category. Oh, and just for good measure, Luck was also graded as the eight-best when not under pressure, having a grade of 14.0 (which further raises questions of how he could be just their ninth-best overall QB from 2014, but that's for another time).
But that's not all! PFF also looked at how quarterbacks fare when they are blitzed, as well as how often they are blitzed. They found that Luck was blitzed on 31.1% of his dropbacks, the 16th-highest total in the league and just slightly above average. When it comes to how quarterbacks played when faced with a blitz, however, there was nobody better in the NFL than Andrew Luck in 2014, according to PFF. Luck had a grade of 16.2 when defenses brought extra blitzers, taking the top spot just ahead of Phillip Rivers and Tom Brady.
All of this can be summed up by this: Andrew Luck is one of the league's best quarterbacks when under pressure. That's a good thing, considering that he is under pressure much more often than Colts fans would like. And that's a large part of the reason why the Colts an win with the offensive line that they have now - while you don't want your quarterback taking a lot of hits, the Colts have a player under center who can play as well as anyone in the league when under pressure and when facing the blitz.