On Wednesday, ESPN put out a ranking of the current NFL MVP frontrunners as voted on by their writers. That obviously isn’t the most reliable data point, but it’s still interesting to pay attention to. The list featured 12 players who got at least one vote, including seven quarterbacks, but Colts quarterback Andrew Luck wasn’t one of them.
I think that’s an error, and it’s because I think Luck absolutely belongs in the conversation for NFL MVP this year. No, I don’t think he’s the frontrunner right now, nor would I vote for him at this point if I had a vote for MVP. I do think he belongs in the conversation, however, but his name really hasn’t been brought up in that context.
Here’s why I think Luck at least belongs in the discussion though: he’s having a very good season with a bad team that is on the verge of a playoff spot. If the Colts win this Sunday against the Texans they will have the inside track to winning the AFC South and making the postseason, and if this Colts team can somehow get to the playoffs I think Luck is a player that has to at least be considered by the voters before they cast their MVP vote.
Luck has completed 258 of 403 passes (64%) for 3,105 yards (7.7 yards per attempt), 23 touchdowns, and eight picks for a passer rating of 98.3, while he’s also rushed for 272 yards and a touchdown in eleven games played. That’s a very productive and good season, and his play was on display on Monday night against the Jets, a game for which he was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week.
But consider also the team he’s been doing it with. Luck has been the most sacked quarterback in the NFL despite missing a game. The Colts’ wideouts have dropped a lot of passes, and while the exact number varies depending on who’s keeping track, it’s a high amount. The Colts’ run game ranks 25th in the league in rushing yards per game and tied for 24th in yards per carry. The Colts’ defense is 25th in the league in points allowed per game and 28th in yards allowed per game, while they’re 30th in defensive DVOA. They’re a team that, for most of the season, has been a bad team and has only recently started to play (a little bit) better. Andrew Luck has led three fourth quarter comebacks this year, and in another game he put the Colts ahead with less than a minute to go only to see the defense blow it. And then, of course, we should also mention that he’s playing for a head coach and a coaching staff that hasn’t always been the best at maximizing their talent or seriously helping the team win.
Against that backdrop, the fact that this Colts team has a legitimate chance to make the playoffs is downright remarkable, and that can be largely attributed to the AFC South. But it can also be attributed, at least in part, to the play of Andrew Luck, which has been a stabilizing force. He’s proven to be the franchise quarterback once again, and he’s been playing at a very high level. If this Colts team can somehow make the playoffs? You’ve got to think he should be in the MVP discussion.
Again, I’m not arguing for Luck as any sort of frontrunner, and you could put others (like Matthew Stafford) ahead of Luck with similar criteria. But in the midst of all the talk about who deserves the MVP, hopefully the voters take a chance to at least consider the guy leading the show in Indianapolis, because if the Colts make the playoffs it will be on the back of Andrew Luck.