As we talk about all of the time in the offseason, quarterback rankings are very popular. Most of the time, these rankings are simply a subjective list from 1 to 32 on who the best and worst players at the position in the NFL are. USA Today’s “For the Win” came up with a great idea to expand those rankings, however: Steven Ruiz ranked each team from 1-32 in four different categories (receivers, running backs, offensive line, and coaching) and then compiled those rankings together to determine which quarterbacks get the most (and the least) help.
I think it’s a great addition to quarterback rankings to look at which player gets the most help, and while I think a defensive ranking could have been factored in as well, I think this list is a helpful way to look beyond just the quarterback rankings into seeing who gets the most help. There still is subjectivity here as the rankings are projecting the 2016 season, but it’s useful to take a look at nonetheless.
And according to Ruiz, the quarterback who gets the least help in the entire NFL is none other than the Colts’ Andrew Luck. The Colts receivers were ranked 24th, their running backs 26th, their offensive line 28th, and their coaching 26th. The Colts are the only team to score 20 or worse in each of the four categories, and it all adds up to a number 32 overall ranking. Wrote Ruiz:
The Colts finally addressed the offensive line this offseason, but they’re still banking on rookies to protect Luck. The team’s best receiver (T.Y. Hilton) is 5-foot-9 and his main job is to run really fast in a straight line. The best player on the offense in 2015 is a 33-year-old running back. Indianapolis had four years to build around Luck before his cap hit shot up over $20 million, and it has failed miserably.
We’ve all known for years that Luck doesn’t get enough help, and this ranking suggests the same thing. I would argue that the Colts should probably be slightly higher in the receivers, running backs, and offensive line category, but I can understand why they weren't. At receiver, the Colts have T.Y. Hilton, but after him are Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett, and several others - a bunch of players who haven’t exactly proven themselves in a big way in the NFL yet. At running back, the Colts have a 33-year old Frank Gore and then behind him several others competing for spots. At offensive line, the Colts have the left side of the line in place, but like Ruiz notes their starting center is a rookie - plus, their right guard and right tackle spots are still uncertain.
I think it would be fair to suggest that all three of those categories could be ranked higher, but I think the general point remains that none of them are particularly strong in comparison to the rest of the league. Then when it comes to coaching, it looks like the ability to coach up quarterbacks and offenses is what it is referring to (thus the reason Bruce Arians is first and Chip Kelly is sixth, for example), and so I think it's fair to question whether the Colts have the best staff in place to coach up Andrew Luck and their offense. Maybe they do, but at this point it’s very much of an unknown.
I think a ranking like this is helpful because it adds more to the discussion than just how well a quarterback plays. You’ll see Andrew Luck in the top ten of most quarterback rankings, and it’s more impressive if you stop and consider the surrounding cast he has to work with. I don’t think the Colts have the worst roster in the NFL by any means, but if you're going by position to look at which quarterback gets the least help, I don't think it’s any surprise to see that Luck doesn't’ get much help.